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John's Journal... Entry 79, Day 1

Using Mounted Decoys for Goose Hunting

click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Mitch Sanchotena of Middleton, Idaho, a longtime goose hunter and a pro staffer for Knight and Hale Game Calls, enjoys hunting geese in the Snake River valley in southern Idaho.

Question: How long have you been hunting geese?
Answer: Probably 35 years.

Question: Where do you hunt primarily?
Answer: Mostly in the Snake River valley in southern Idaho.

click to enlargeQuestion: What is the goose population like there?
Answer: Our local goose population is about 5,500 birds. We get a small migration, and we'll peak somewhere around 12,000 to 14,000.

Question: Are the birds mostly greater Canada geese?
Answer: All of the birds in this area are greater Canada, the Columbia Basin variety and will weigh about 9 to 10 pounds each.

Question: How did you come up with the idea of using mounted geese as decoys?
Answer: We have a 103-day goose season in Idaho, and after about 80 days, there aren't too many decoys the local population of geese hasn't seen. As the popularity of goose hunting has increased, so have the numbers of decoys hunters put out in their spreads. After awhile the plastic decoys no longer fool the geese.

click to enlargeSince I had a small taxidermy business, in the off-season I mounted 18 geese in various lifelike poses. After reading articles, I knew I wasn't the first to try smaller spreads. But I was experimenting, and that's what I came up with that worked best for me.

Question: Did you know of anyone else who was using mounted decoys?
Answer: No, nobody in this area that I'm aware of was or is using mounted decoys.

Question: What did you find out about mounted decoys? Why did you go to the smaller spreads and start using mounted decoys?
Answer: Other hunters have gone to smaller spreads and have found them effective in the later part of the season. But if you put a mounted decoy out there alongside even the best production decoy, there's just no comparison. Man will never be able to completely duplicate the authenticity of a real bird.

click to enlargeQuestion: I noticed your decoys are mounted on wooden planks. You hide the planks, don't you?
Answer: Right. In our area, frost is a big problem. If we were hunting somewhere else where we didn't have frost, we could do without the stakes coming off the bottom of the feet and just stick them into the ground. Here, our frost level now is probably 12 to 18 inches in the ground. So, you need something that's fairly substantial to keep the goose decoy standing in the wind and freezing weather. We're using a 14-by-14-inch, 5/8-inch-thick piece of plywood. Today, we're hunting in a cornfield. So, we'll put the cornstalks over the edges of the boards to break up the pattern.

Question: Do you think the geese can see the boards if you don't do that?
Answer: I don't think so.

Tomorrow: Calling Geese




Check back each day this week for more about Goose Hunting In Idaho ...

Day 1 -Using Mounted Decoys for Goose Hunting
Day 2 -Calling Geese
Day 3 -The Secret to Calling Late-Season Geese
Day 4 -Using Scarecrows to Scare Up Geese
Day 5 -How to Shoot Geese

John's Journal