Are you at risk every time you walk into the woods hunting ducks, geese, doves, turkeys, and pretty much anything with a gun? Are you suffering irreparable damage to your hearing on every hunt? The sad answer is yes, but there is a way to stay safe and protect both your hearing and your future. We are going to dive into that and more on this episode!

Duck hunters know there are risks with firearms, deep water, and the elements but there are other dangers they face every time they walk into the woods. It is not just a danger of something that could happen, this is happening on every hunt to every hunter unless they do something to protect themselves. And that is hearing loss caused by firearms use.

To help me talk about the problem and the solution I have Bill Dickenson with me today, Dr. of Audiology, Lifelong hunter, fellow believer and founder of Tetra Hearing, a company that may be doing more than any other to change the lives of hunters young and old.

Hearing loss from hunting is kind of like radiation exposure, sometimes the ill effects are immediate but more often they are cumulative over time, slowly creeping up until you realize you have big health issues. And the issues go far beyond just not being able to hear as well, that is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Every duck hunter needs a choke tube, and it is only a matter of time before you become obsessed with finding the best one. But it doesn’t need to be that complicated or intense. On this episode I talk about the basics of finding the right choke tube and I share some high-level research-based insights.

Almost all shotguns have changeable choke tubes these days. What not many people are willing to admit is that most of them will do the job just fine for hunting ducks at regular distances of 30 yards. But there are some gains to be made with finding higher quality chokes and matching them to the distance you take shots at.

Some chokes are made for certain types of shells, and some are made for specific shells themselves. My research hasn’t proven either way if they really can engineer chokes better for a specific shell, but you can count on choke manufactures having tested those shells heavily so the risk of the choke not performing with them is minimal.

Do aftermarket choke tubes improve performance? According to my firsthand field testing, they absolutely do, with some guns and some stock chokes. Stock recessed or flush chokes can often be replaced with extended aftermarket chokes for improved performance. But many of the high-end shotguns come with stock chokes just as good as aftermarket ones. 

People are obsessed with tighter and tighter patterns these days, and that sounds good, and it’s easy to get caught up in the hype. But we want to eat our ducks, and blasting them to shreds is not better. Ultimately you want a pattern that helps you consistently and reliably get clean kills so the birds do not suffer and are not lost, but not so tight that it destroys all edible portions of the bird. 

Listen to the podcast episode for all the details!

Duck hunting is a gear intensive sport and getting that gear to the field is a hurdle that every hunter needs to navigate. On this episode I talk about 5 different levels of gear and the main options for getting your equipment into the field for each. I also highlight different ways of hunting and moving gear which should help inform new and experienced hunters alike. 

  1. Extra Heavy Gear Hunting – Gear at this level either needs left in the field or brought in by vehicle, it is beyond what the hunters can bring into the woods under their own power. When you see hundreds of duck decoys, or large goose spreads, this is the only option.
  2. Heavy Gear Hunting – This is the upper range of what individuals can somehow lug to their hunting spot. Often they are using multiple jet sleds, farm carts, or boats to get it in.
  3. Medium Gear Hunting – What the average hunter is able to bring into the wood solo, or what a group can bring in without great effort. The is what most hunters are doing. This often involves what can practically be taken in on a single sled or cart. 
  4. Light Gear Hunting – What the average hunter can carry on their back without any mechanical aid. This usually consists 6-12 decoys and only the bare essentials. You would most often hunt this way if you have to cover a lot of ground, 
  5. Little to No Gear Hunting – This is for hunting on foot, moving throughout the day, usually with 0-2 decoys. This will enable you to go deep into the woods and access locations you could not get to laden down with gear. 

Most Common Tools Used

  • Jet Sled – These are heavy duty, super durable sleds designed for farm work and other rigorous activities. They can be used to drag or float hundreds of pounds of gear across just about anything at any time of year. 
  • Farm Cart – These wide wheelbase carts can make it possible to transport excessive weight with ease, as long as it is across relatively even surfaces. 
  • Open Top Kayak – Almost nothing is going to be easier than paddling into a location and floating your heavy gear in, provided of course you have the water, locations, vehicles, and equipment needed to make this option work. 

Listen to the episode to hear the options for bringing the gear for each level into the woods.

Can you still be successful hunting geese in the late season? Not only can you do it, some people have the most success in the middle of winter! On this episode I share strategies and tips for late season goose hunting.

Take Aways

  • Not all geese leave during the winter, and new birds can still migrate into many areas even through the end of the winter.
  • To hunt in the late season, you need to focus on what geese are looking for in YOUR area.
  • Winter can be beneficial because birds become more focused on the few waterways that have not frozen over.
  • Decoys help with goose hunting but you do not always need to buy them, you can build and improvise goose decoys for very cheap.
  • Geese are easily drawn to decoys that are nothing more than a flag, plastic bags, or black cardboard in a field.
  • Staying warm and dry in the late season is paramount for your enjoyment and safety.
  • Having good shotgun shells helps in the late season because birds have their thickest feathers.
  • Listen to the episode to hear the three strategies for winter goose hunting.

Show Notes:

You need gear to hunt geese, fortunately a lot of that gear can double for duck hunting. On this episode I talk about the gear you need, should have, and should consider to go goose hunting and how it stacks up with duck hunting gear. I also talk about the single most important thing when it comes to getting you waterfowl hunting gear together and no it is not a type of gear or a brand, it matters much more than that. 

Items Somewhat Unique For Goose Hunting

  • Shotgun – Whatever you already have or can borrow is the best place to start! Hunt, learn, and then decide what would be best for you to buy.
  • Choke – People often go with a little tighter choke than what they use for duck hunting.
  • Shells – Consider going with larger shot than you use for duck hunting, higher velocities, or something denser than steel, like bismuth. 
  • A Goose Call – You do not need anything super fancy, but I waded through cheap calls until I found something that worked work well like the Field Proven Raptor Goose Call.
  • Decoys + Decoy rigs/anchors + Decoy Bag – You can start with as few as 6-12 decoys. You want something cheap, small, and durable.
  • A Good Hide – Many hunters, including experts build their own blind on location with whatever they can find that day. This should cost you $0 to get started.
  • Decoy/Gear Transportation – A Jed Sled is ideal once you have more gear than you can carry on your back, but a cart or kayak are good options too, if you have them.  

Items That Overlap Alot Of Duck Hunting

  • All the required hunting licenses – This will include some mix of general state hunting license, state waterfowl hunting license, and federal license depending on where you live.
  • Ear Protection – Never get into a goose blind without ear protection. Start with the cheapest foam ear plugs money can buy then work your way up to better electronic options, I think Tetra Hearing makes the best ear protection in the industry but they are most likely a second or third season purchase for most new waterfowl hunters. Keep in mind a good earplug strategy can make the difference between foam ear plugs being a usable tool and something that ruins your hunt.
  • Waders – You need to have a way to get into water to retrieve decoys and geese.
  • Waste Up Camo – You should be hidden well for goose hunting, but little below your shoulders should ever be visible.
  • Call Lanyard – Keeps you calls handy so you can grab them with minimal movement, and keeps them from getting lost in the mud.
  • Jerk Rig – Something to create motion on water when the wind isn’t blowing.
  • Cold Weather Gear – As the season progresses you will need items that are wind and waterproof. Warm gear will help extend your season.
  • A Hand Warming Plan – Some people like warm gloves, a callers glove, a warmer muff or just pockets with handwarmers. Get some experience and see what you prefer.
  • Headlamp – Expensive options get you very little more function than cheap ones. Waterproofing is about the only feature worth paying more for.
  • Decoy Gloves – Something waterproof is a must have for cold days with cold water.
  • Seat – You need something that will keep you dry, comfort is a plus. Consider a short folding stool, a turkey chair, a piece of an exercise mat, or just a bucket with a lid.

Listen to the episode for all the details!

Show Notes:

Goose hunting is a fun and exciting pursuit in its own right. Yet many of the strategies and tactics are similar to duck hunting. On this episode I focus on what is unique about hunting geese, and how you can find and apply general duck hunting methodologies as well.

Take Aways

  • When I talk about goose hunting, I am talking in the most general sense but still focusing on Canada geese since they seem to be the most prevalent for the largest number of new hunters.
  • The same four core duck hunting strategies apply to goose hunting but there are differences, some work better than others for geese and some are more expensive than others!
  • Goose hunting often occurs at somewhat further range than duck hunting, there are practical and technical reasons for this, though I would not go into it thinking this is supposed to be long range hunting by any means.
  • Geese are bigger than ducks, much bigger. Do not try to catch a falling goose out of the air. It is a very dangerous proposition!
  • For beginners tips on how to hunt waterfowl in general, listen to the last 15 or so episodes I have done on duck hunting.
  • For how strategies and tips specific to goose hunting, listen to this episode!