There are obvious pros and cons for hunting both land and water, but as a guide I prefer chasing specks over water. First and foremost, where we hunt in West Texas the hides generally prove to be far better as there is a lot of winter wheat and many peanut fields that the birds generally feed in. If you can’t hide well when it comes to chasing these wary birds, your hunt was over before it even started and you’re sure to hear the loud buzzing of wings as approaching birds spot you and your crew. Secondly, when hunting water we only put out about 20 dozen decoys. This is MUCH less of a hassle than the 60-100 dozen we end up putting out to hunt fields, and when it comes to clients fumbling around in the dark, every decoy we can leave in the trailer is appreciated. Working specks over water is one of the most magical things that a hunter can experience. With the flock sizes generally being smaller than the early morning rush to the fields, it’s very easy for even the inexperienced hunter to single out a bird to talk to and work it all the way into the spread. This is generally when you’ll find some of the more mature tar bellies become more susceptible to calls and decoys as well. On a personal note, I love hunting water for all of these reasons, but my favorite reason is because it provides for amazing photography opportunities. Generally the specks don’t start returning to water until around 8:30 which allows the sun to come up and give you not only great light on the birds, but also a gorgeous reflection, and often ducks to keep you busy until the geese get thirsty.
When hunting water, be careful of a few key things though. Calling too loudly, especially on a light wind day, is a very common mistake. These geese aren’t ready to go tugging feathers and chasing each other around as in the fields, they’re napping, sipping on water, and perhaps wishing they had a good book to read. Keep this in mind and perhaps reach for the quiet call on your lanyard or blow your call into the boot bag of your blind. Anything to soften the sharp noises of most speck calls will increase your odds. Also, beware of the sun! Sun and wind give us shadows and movement to conceal our stealth imperfections, but this doesn’t mean you can be staring at the birds with faces to the sky! Pretend your face is fluorescent orange and hide it as such. Peek under the corner of your cap or glance occasionally to see the birds. The nice thing about specks is that they’re always talking to you to let you know exactly where they are. If you have a hunter in your group who insists on staring at the geese stick him in a ground blind that has a lid over the hunter’s head such as an Avery Power Hunter or consider ghillie blankets that can cover the entire hunter but can still be seen through.
When done right, chasing specks over water can prove to be extremely effective and can make memories that will last a lifetime.