For years I’ve tried to hunt specs (white-front geese) over decoys – often having little or no success. However I’ve done better the last couple years. Probably that has something to do with the fact that there are plenty of specs in the Delta where we hunt. However it also has to do with some of the tactics I’ve been using, so I’ll share them.
Unlike snows, which can be decoyed in by large numbers of white decoys, my past experiences have demonstrated that specs are very difficult to decoy with large spreads. However, I’ve learned that a small decoy spread of realistic decoys works.
Five decoys, whether on dry ground or on water, is about right. On water I use a jerk string on one of the decoys. I call sparingly, and have my best success by calling back to single birds in the air that are already calling.
Spec hunting is best on days when there are few hunters out and the birds become relaxed. I do not believe that having other hunters shooting is beneficial or that getting the birds moving is helpful. It is best to be patient and wait for the birds to decide to go looking for food or whatever else motivates them.
A good hide is a must. Laying out on the ground when hunting over decoys does not work well. Specs are too good at avoiding anything that looks like a hunter. A good blind submerged or buried and hidden by cover is best. In natural ponds, hide well back in tules or cattail. An appropriately colored guillie suit and face mask is beneficial.
My advise is to avoid shooting at passing birds and wait for those that are close. Use a dog if possible as specs are good escape artists and you will inevitably have to go a long ways after one during a successful hunt.
Even when specs are slowing down over decoys, they require a good lead and sometimes they will come in close at high speed. If that’s the case you’ll need to get the barrel ahead of them even though they are close.
Decoys work well in calm clear weather so you don’t need to wait for wind and rain. Just go.
Most of my best hunts have taken place during the afternoon hours, but occasionally morning is productive and you may have one come in at any time. With large numbers of geese in the Pacific flyway, it’s worthwhile devoting some time to goose hunting.
When hunting over water, it is quite possible to come home with a mixed bag of ducks and geese, but leave your spinner decoys in the truck as you won’t kill many white-fronts over a spinning decoy.