Late, Great Honker Hunting

Late, Great Honker Hunting
As always, your Yamaha ATV or SxS will help you transport gear and your hunt buddies the distance.

Some of us have been hunting Canada geese since September and are done now. For others, there’s still plenty of honker hunting left.

Here’s where and how to do it.

Honker Hotspots

Check your waterfowl regulations for extended opportunities.

Maryland has late goose seasons—for Atlantic population and resident birds—well into the New Year (March 10, 2015 for the latter geese; Feb. 4 for the former).


New York State offers Feb. 28-Mar. 10, 2015 “South Goose Hunting Area” honker hunting; extended opportunities exist on Long Island as well.


Indiana, not a typical state in waterfowling conversations, provides a late Canada goose hunt from Feb. 1-15, 2015 in 30 counties.

Other states, too? You bet—but too many to list here.

Food Sources Rule

Before you set your winter honker decoy spread, you have to find out where geese are feeding or where they might want to do it. Assuming you’re armed with a reliable shotgun, loads, and proven calls, here are some other basics.

Winter has just arrived after a fairly mild 2014-2015 waterfowl season. Food had been widely available—now snow covers some of it. Due to availability (or lack of), resident geese are much more likely to munch green grass and/or agricultural leavings to the south. Up north, you may have to fool them simply by the genius of your spread of decoys and the hyper-realism of it.


If flocks are spread out, food sources might be limited and they’re looking for it. Cold weather patterns, the kind found in late season, can contribute to this. Sometimes these spots are on or near moving water.

When a flock is packed in tightly, the food source might be abundant in that location. Birds are more sociable and maybe more susceptible to calling and decoying. It could also signal a coming weather change and shift from mild to frigid weather.Adjust accordingly.

Roosting and Feeding

As a result, you’re often better off finding their roost (where geese loaf at night, often on water), and where they like to hang out by day, which could be near the same winter spot (check with the landowner first, if it’s a private holding), or any other available huntable public location.This includes where you might call them out of the sky on their way from point A (the roost; often water) and point B (where they feed and/or linger during the daytime—also sometimes water).


If you’re like me you favor natural vegetation near food sources for late-season blinds if possible. Look for other food sources, especially if the farmer has only cut back part the field late last year. Land forms like drainage ditches near watery feeding areas with brushy cover provide an option too.

Many veteran waterfowlers also use shadows and sunlight for concealment—or at least try to pay attention to these natural factors. Blinds, layouts or otherwise, need to blend in with the natural landscape. It goes without saying that once set up, you hide inside that “invisible” structure until honkers wing into range. Or not.

Ask any hardcore late-season goose hunter when they scout and they’ll likely say: “I never stop.” Find the birds now. Watch them. When do they leave an area? Where do they go? Soon enough, where you live and hunt, you can get on these late honkers with your decoy spreads.

Super Goose Spreads

Your spread (the arrangement of your goose dekes) should reflect the situation you’re hunting. Full-bodies. Shell decoys. Silhouettes. Motion stakes for realism. Mix and match, or stick with one style.

As fakes go, you should use the best you can afford. Add new options to the old reliable mix (often on sale now). If you hunt hard as many of us do, take care of your gear to and from your hunting spots. Decoy bags are a must. Some guys even put fakes in individual bags. Clean decoys with a bristle brush and water. No shortcuts. Do what it takes. It’ll put more geese in range.

Late-season geese have been subjected to serious hunter pressure. Sometimes smaller sets work fine, sure, situation depending. Bring out the 100+ deke spreads now with confidence though, as pressured honkers grow tougher well into winter. Be realistic as possible.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New from Old Town: Sportsman Autopilot 136 and Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

New from Old Town: Sportsman Autopilot 136 and Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

Brand ambassador Ryan Lilly highlights the features of the Old Town AutoPilot 136 motorized kayak and the Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman canoe.

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

RIO Slickcast Fly Lines

Chris Walker, with RIO Products, talks with Editor/Publisher Ross Purnell of Fly Fisherman magazine about the new SlickCast lineup of fly lines for 2020.

Bubba Blade: Multi-Flex Interchangeable Blade Set

Bubba Blade: Multi-Flex Interchangeable Blade Set

Four blades in versatile knife system to fit your needs; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Lew

Lew's KVD Rods

As the king of bass fishing says, this new lineup of rods from Lew's—which features the distinctive KVD color scheme—is the most comprehensive lineup of rods ever produced by a single company.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

A quick look at offerings from SPRO for 2020-21. Baits & Lures

New from ICAST: Rattle Little John; Essential Series

Game & Fish Staff - July 13, 2020

A quick look at offerings from SPRO for 2020-21.

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix them. Fishing How-To

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix...

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing. Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing. Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

The best jig fisherman are those that are always aware of what their jig is doing.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

Behind the Badge is a regular series of perspective stories by Oklahoma game warden Carlos Gomez. In this article, Gomez recounts his experiences from his first nighttime poaching bust. Stories

Behind the Badge: A Warden's First Night-Poaching Bust

Game & Fish Online Staff - July 30, 2018

Behind the Badge is a regular series of perspective stories by Oklahoma game warden Carlos...

It was a difficult question for a young hunter to ask, and the answer didn't come any easier. Stories

Deer Camp Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Jeff Johnston - February 04, 2020

It was a difficult question for a young hunter to ask, and the answer didn't come any easier.

Calling all coyotes:'These predators are efficient, so finding and calling them to the gun can Stories

Predator Hunting: 3 Ways to Find Elusive Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - June 26, 2018

Calling all coyotes:'These predators are efficient, so finding and calling them to the gun can

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now