The action can be incredible, and the geese themselves in fantastic shape. You might see pristine plumage and full, rounded bodies (months of eating cereal grains and peas serve them well!). While you’ll likely battle weather and their wariness, hunting late-season Canada geese in Alberta is well worth the extra challenge. Plan for a few of these tactics before you head out!
Things change as we get deep into the season. When there’s snow on the ground, Canada geese get pressed for food…and that’s what you need to capitalize on. Scout your field in the days prior and watch their behaviours closely. You might find the birds stacked close together and lying flat on the ground, spending time lounging and feeding. The birds often huddle or sleep in groups, with their heads tucked under their wing. You’ll notice they tend to not leave the field midday, and feed morning and evening. They’ll take off for their night roost right around sunset.
The birds will come in much later than compared to earlier in the season. You might find the geese flying out between 10:00 am and noon, then spending the rest of their days in the field. Enjoy sleeping in and take notes for when it’s time to get out there and set up your spread.
Set your decoys in the same manner you see the geese spreading in the field the days leading up to your hunt. They will like a depression, which gives them some shelter. Score if you find yourself in a field full of large round bales—you can set up tight to the bales to break the wind and your outline. Set up your decoys quickly, stuff your blinds with straw and tuck them in at the base of a large bale if you can.
Think about setting decoys in feeding group and sleeper patterns—again, common late in the year. The colder it gets, the tighter your decoy spread should be. Birds squeeze closer together when temperatures drop.
Knock it down When we hunt in larger groups, it can be difficult to tell who is shooting what—or even get a shot at all with some fast trigger fingers in the group! If you can take it down to two or three people, it’s much easier to hide. You’ll up your chance of success since you should be able pick and choose your shots carefully.
Late birds are fully feathered and hard to penetrate. They might look like huge targets, but geese are extremely challenging when they use the wind and try to escape with unpredictable breaking angles. Use larger shot sizes, like BB or BBB, and focus only on the goose’s head and lead your gun from there. Don’t let the big bodies and wings distract you—getting out far enough in front of these big birds means leading from the end of their beaks. Do that, and you just might have a few coming home with you!