As a hunter living in the Canada goose rich Midwest, I know the frustration of watching specks fail to fully commit and finish all too well. The game we play “up here” in corn country is very different than our lucky brothers to the south and west. We rarely get the luxury of hunting sheet water, and the only rice we see is when our women folk drag us out to one of those fancy sushi joints from time to time.
Like most folks in my home region, I tried everything when the specks first started showing up here a decade ago. I learned to run a speck call. I bought some speck decoys. I even killed a few birds here and there, but specks were still more of a bonus that an expected result.
As time has went on I finally started putting things together. It wasn’t the little things that I had been missing, but rather an understanding of the big picture from a bar-bellies point of view. What was I doing differently than my speck smashing friends that live in places like Mississippi, Arkansas, or California? I’ll give you a hint, it involved shooting very large birds with black feet…
If you live and hunt in the Midwest, honkers are generally the main focus. We tend to curse specks when we can’t kill them. We believe that they are ultra spooky, or buy into the myth that specks have super-goose vision that allows them to pick us out more so than our normal quarry. Well folks, I’m here to tell you that it just ain’t true.
So what’s the secret to killing specks “up here” then? Well, maybe it’s just realizing that the bird itself is different than a Canada goose.
If you’ve ever been to the city park and watched honkers feed and loaf in the off season, you’ve surely noticed the amount of chasing, hissing, biting, flogging, and honking that goes on. Don’t get me wrong, I love honkers, but they sure can be big old bullies. An adult Canada goose won’t even tolerate other birds of it’s own species to enter the space of it’s mate or brood, it always ends with a fight.
Now, I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve been socked by a fella or two in my day. I’m also a career military man, so I have a bit of a different outlook on things versus those who ignore violence. What’s this got to do with hunting specks you ask? Everything!
Men and geese both fight over resources, and we’ll always remember the times when we took a whipping. If you live in the Midwest, the bully in the field is without a doubt the resident Canada goose. He’s 10-14 pounds on average, which is a couple weight classes above Mr.Tarbelly. He’s cranky, he chases his own kind off, and he’s just not a nice guy…errr, I mean bird.
Keep this in mind when placing decoys. Specks don’t want trouble, they just want to get away from the bully with the black feet. They can’t compete for the resource toe to toe with a big old local gander, so don’t try to make them! The best tip I can give is to run your speck decoys totally separate of your honkers. Personally, I like running them in two big pods, one 50 yards downwind of the blinds, and one on the upwind corner so they have a visual cue as they follow the calling towards the blinds.
You might even be shocked at how honkers will respond to this as they work over the speck decoys. To them, it’s a pretty easy fight to pick over food!
Good luck out there fellas, and remember to keep the fight fair!
Stumblin’ Drake Productions
Guide at Porters Hunting Club