Keep Your Calling Simple This Month

Many years ago an old-time goose hunter told me that it takes nothing to call in them pea-brain geese. Of course, this particular oldtimer didn’t own a single piece of camo. It was just over 30 years ago that I first set up over a goose decoy in a cut corn field, in central New York.

While my first official goose hunting trip was a great adventure and one that we had planned for months, it truly was an eye opener. Looking back on the trip, it was the first of many that I would make over the years. We all remember our first road hunting trip, because there is something magical about it all.

With the early goose season under way in our part the country, many goose hunters took part in their first goose hunt yesterday. From what we experienced the birds were pretty shy.

While decoys are an important part of goose hunting, we will get more into decoying at a later date. A good caller will finish the birds off at any fancy decoy spread.

The basic goose calls are fairly simple to learn. Once you are able to learn how to use the cluck, the murmur and the hail the rest are just variations of the basics.

The cluck is the foundation of all sounds that geese make. All geese sounds are, in one form or another, based on the cluck, so it’s important that we all master the cluck. By lengthening, shortening or using the different notes, you can make every note in a goose’s vocabulary.

A cluck can be broken down into two parts or notes, consisting of a low first note — “grrrr” and a higher-pitched second note “ittt.” By lengthening or shortening either of the two parts you’ll produce different clucking sounds or honks.

The murmur is just one portion of the cluck and will, if reproduced properly, produce a feeding murmur. The first part of the cluck, used in succession, will produce the murmur, or the feeding call. Try using words like “grrr, grrr, grrr” in succession and you’ll begin to produce a murmur, or feed call.

Slightly changing the second portion of the cluck will reproduce the moan call a goose makes. In a moan, you need to drop the first portion of the cluck and highlight the second note so the sound doesn’t break over, but drags out the call. Instead of saying it on the second portion of the cluck say “ihhhhh,” “awwww” or my favorite, “whooo.”

From what I see/hear, the hail call is the most overused goose call I hear hunters make every season. The hail is used to get the attention of the geese when they are off in a distance. The hail call is a cluck that has a short front end and drawn out second note with the emphasis on making the call snap or break over.

The first call any serious goose hunter must use, and one to be mastered, is the greeting call. The greeting call is to be used once you get the attention of the geese and they start heading in your direction. Once the birds get closer, call faster and more excitedly the closer they get. With the greeting call, you can mix in a few clucks, double and some longer greeting-style clucks.

The lay down call is used to close the deal and create confidence and make the geese feel like your decoy spread is a safe place to be. This call is used to get the birds the last few yards. This is where the short/soft clucks, moan and murmurs are important. Mixing these three calls up in soft and short calls will finish up the most suspicious of geese.

Learning how to call geese and when to use these calls will make your time in the field and on the water more enjoyable. Keeping your calling to the basics will not only help you impress your hunting buddies but the geese as well.

Remember, in New York, all you need to waterfowl hunt is a current small-game license, a Federal Waterfowl Stamp, which has been raised this season, and knowledge of the different species of waterfowl you choose to chase. It always helps to have an experienced waterfowler with you.