John's Journal...

Waterfowl Guide Mike Miller Explains How to Take Late Season Honkers and Quacks

Day 5: Guide Mike Miller - Waterfowl Don’t Carry Pocket Watches So Be Patient

Editor’s Note: Mike Miller of Colorado is consumed with waterfowl hunting. He hunts and guides for both ducks and geese in eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. This week Miller will give Night Hawk’s readers the five secrets for taking late-season ducks and geese.

Click for Larger ViewIf you have done an effective job of scouting for a couple of days, you may assume you know exactly what time to expect the ducks or geese to be at your blind. But remember, waterfowl don’t carry pocket watches. They don’t know what time of day it is, where they are supposed to be, or what time they should be there. Often in the late season, when waterfowl don’t show up where and when they are supposed to be, don’t give up. Wait an extra hour or two longer than you had planned to hunt. Often the birds will come in, even though they are late. Although you have been hunting all year long and have the geese patterned, conditions still can change overnight. The supply of food where you are hunting may have run out, or another group of hunters may have spooked the birds you want to take. Don’t forget that these waterfowl have been beat-up all during the season not only by hunters but also by predators. So, the smallest thing that looks like danger may cause the birds to sit tight, move or come in late.

Too, you are probably not the only one hunting that flock of birds. One of the biggest mistakes that late-season hunters make is not changing-up the places they hunt, their decoy spreads or the ways they call. If you have had your decoys sitting in about the same place, you have called about the same way, and you have hunted the birds in almost the same area throughout the season, then at the end of the season, more than likely, you need to change a lot of things. When that first flight of late-season ducks or geese comes in and don’t like what they see, they’ll flare and turn away from your decoys. Go ahead, and move your decoys around before the next flight comes in, or create a new blind in a different spot. I also believe that waterfowl often think, “If we go to eat where we normally go to eat at first light, we probably will be dodging steel shot like we have every morning when we have gone to eat in the same place. But if we wait until later in the morning, we have every reason to believe that the steel shot may not be in the air at that time.”

Click for Larger ViewI understand that I haven’t been able to climb into to the minds of those ducks and geese yet. I am not really sure what they are thinking. However, like every other wild creature, once they understand where there is danger, and when they know the sounds and the sights that have proven to be dangerous situations in the past, they will change their flight patterns. If the ducks and geese in the area you are hunting have been pressured all during the season at first light, then later in the morning or even in the middle of the day may be when the majority of the birds decide to move. I think waterfowl may have been conditioned to know that most hunters are out of the fields or their blinds by 10:00 or 11:00 in the morning. Then they may fly later to be safer.

Click for Larger ViewThis pattern seems to hold true with the exception of snow geese. Snow geese are an entirely different story. Snow geese will leave their roost and fly into a field at first light. They will try and eat everything in sight, before they leave the field. But you can pattern snow geese and dark geese. During the end of January, we expect to see the snow geese in our region just at daylight or a little bit before. But the dark geese don’t usually show-up until about 8:30 am. Once again, when you are scouting, learn which geese fly when. Although I scout primarily for Canada geese, many times the snow geese and the Canada geese will be feeding in the same fields. When we find a place like that, we take the snow geese first. Then, about an hour later, we have the opportunity to take the Canada geese.

Click for Larger ViewWhen you talk about late-season geese, our area also has a conservation season on snow geese - usually 2 weeks after the closing of duck and goose season, which normally happens in March. During that season, we take the plugs out of our guns, we set-out humongous spreads of white geese decoys, and we use all types of motion decoys in the spread. We plug in the speakers from our houses into our MP3 players, and we really take time to make sure we are well hidden from the snow geese. I have seen some hunters lay out in their decoys in white clothing. And yes, they do take some geese. During the conservation season on snow geese, we have about 10 hunters in our area who all work together. We will all scout for about a 100-mile radius in different directions in eastern Colorado until we find the snow geese. Once we learn where those big flocks of snow geese want to land and feed, we will call each other and decide where we need to set-up to be able to take those white birds. We never have had a problem obtaining permission to hunt snow geese in the conservation season. Most of the farmers in eastern Colorado hate the snow geese, because these geese eat up their crops. I never have run into a situation where a farmer has said. “No, you can’t hunt here. I like to see the geese eat up my crops.”

We had 10 guys at one time who took over 120 snow geese - the best shoot our group ever has had. After the shoot, the work started. We had to get the geese cut up, breasted out, ground up and made into sausage. I’ve found that making sausage out of the snow geese is one of the best ways to eat them. You also can use the sausage for burritos.

To get in touch with Miller, you can email him at or contact him on Facebook. Watch Miller’s YouTube videos: How to Use a Duck Call and
How to Tune a Duck Call.

To learn more about hunting and cooking all species, go to John’s Author Page for a list of his print books still available and his Kindle books.

Share this page with a friend!

About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Check back each day this week for more about Waterfowl Guide Mike Miller Explains How to Take Late Season Honkers and Quacks"

Day 1: Guide Mike Miller Tells What You Need to Know Before You Go for Late Season Waterfowl
Day 2: Guide Mike Miller – Fewer Decoys for Ducks and More Decoys for Geese
Day 3: Mike Miller Explains When to and When Not to Call Late Season Ducks and Geese
Day 4: Watch the Weather When Hunting Late Season Waterfowl with Guide Mike Miller
Day 5: Guide Mike Miller - Waterfowl Don’t Carry Pocket Watches So Be Patient

ALL CONTENT PROTECTED UNDER THE DIGITAL MILLENIUM COPYRIGHT ACT. Content theft, either printed or electronic is a federal offense.


Entry 754, Day 5