Goose Gear Prep                                            

                                                                                                                                                          - By Matt Ferland

I can't  believe early Goose season is only a little over a month away. It's time to start getting our gear ready! I am very fortunate because one of my hunting partners is my beautiful wife, Christine. This means a great deal to me and as many of you know, a significant part of why we hunt comes down to who we hunt with and the memories we create together. Hunting as a couple does present a few challenges and one of the most significant is we literally have 2 of everything and that's a lot of gear to keep track of. It is a worthwhile issue but here is how we deal with it. Between archery, muzzle loading, rifle and waterfowl hunting we could open another Kittery Trading Post. It admittedly is harder for me then Christine to keep track of everything. She is the queen of organization. I, on the other hand, live by a simple code. If I leave a goose call in a certain spot and it is not touched, it will likely be where I left it. That said, the way my mind works, I am going to remember where I left it. I'm sure a lot of men use this same code and I am also sure it doesn't work very well for any of us. So Christine and I have put together a system and I must admit it makes things go much smoother getting ready for our hunting seasons. Our system utilizes categories. Really it's a pretty simply system but somewhat detailed because as I stated above we use a lot of stuff.

Below are the categories and a breakdown of the different components we use to compile our gear for waterfowling:

Outside gear - this is stuff you never bring in the house and use as a team.

Trailer- check tires, brakes, bearings, registration, lights, lift jack, spare tire, and frame.

Decoys- clean off with hose and let dry. Check flocking to see if any touch ups are needed.

Ground stakes- Make sure you have the equal amount for Decoys and brighten up the paint on tops so you can find them in the fields. We use a lot of silhouette decoys and a power washer works great for cleaning those. Check floating decoys for holes and cracks. A little silicon and black marker can give you another seasons use with an old friend. If you hunt with other people and you want to make it easier to figure out what goes where during clean up try putting your initials on the bottom of decoys and # bag it goes in. Finally go over all your Texas rigs checking snaps, cables, strings, and weights. Make sure to remove all plants from lines we don't want to spread any invasive species to different watersheds.
 
Decoy bags- wash out bags and check for rips, tears, broken straps. Refresh your # system for decoys.

 



 Layout Blinds- spray out with hose and  use a mixture of 1part bleach to 10 parts water solution on the inside to clean and make them smell fresh again. While they are wet I will mud the outside again even though we will grass or stubble them in during the hunt. The mud helps eliminate any fabric shine that will make birds flare off. We each setup a couple blinds with green grass cover aka killer weed or similar products and one in a corn color. Then we are set for any fields we hunt in our area. Your area may differ in patterns. Check blind straps, frames, pins, snaps, floors for rips, doors, and seats. There is nothing worse than opening morning and your blind is not working properly.
 
Blinds- if you have any type of permanent blinds take an early trip and check on them. Make sure no critters have moved in. Water is draining out. Camo is good and everything is in working order.

Game cart- tires, pins and bungee cords. These carts are great for carrying gear into a field if you can't drive out to the X spot.

Inside gear - These are items that you bring in and out daily.

Guns- clean them up and lubricate them. The better you treat them the better they'll run. Check slings, sights, plugs( according to laws where you hunt) I highly recommend getting some range time prior to the season also. We setup our layout blinds and release helium balloons with a string down range about 15 yards to simulate birds trying to raise up out of the kill hole. Then we call the shot and hopefully bust them all.

Boots and Waders- check for leaks and soles are not loose. Christine had a pair of She Safari boots last year and the steel foot shank was sticking right through the bottom of the boot. If we didn't look them over it could have stuck her in the foot or at a minimum a wet foot.

Ammo- pattern your guns and see what works the best.  Chokes and shell brand combination all work differently.  Our crew gets together and all buy a different type of shell.  Then we all run a couple though our guns shooting a 30 inch circle at 25 yards. Count the pellets in the circle to determine best pattern. During early goose season, I recommend 3 inch shell # 2s or #3 shot. Sometimes I mix pellet size shell. An example of why I would do this is  your first two shots are closer and you get better pattern density with #3 pellet size and your 3rd shot as the birds fly away might be BB sized shot which is more effective.

Gun case- soft cases or hard cases clean, dry and check zippers and claspes.

Calls- clean your calls with lukewarm water. Even though they look pretty easy to adjust if you don't have experience tuning them don't take them apart. Quality call company's Like Goey Hunting Calls will tune them back up for you. But if you just flush them with water and dry you can avoid sending them out and waiting to get them back. Plus, you avoid  shipping charges and all the lost practice time.

Lanyards- check all droppers and knots are good. Calls are too expensive to lose because you neglected your lanyard.

Clothing- just make sure they are not too tattered and you have what you need. Hat, gloves, pants, shirts, sox, hoodies.

Blind bag gear - All your personal stuff and necessities.

Everyone's bags are filled with different items. This is what we put in ours. You'll adjust yours according to your needs.

Ear plugs- many people don't use them while hunting but with today's ported chokes and being right next to someone firing you can damage your hearing pretty quickly. It literally takes a couple seconds to put them in while the birds are approaching.

Multi tool- they have saved more than one hunt

Water bottle

New power bar. Yes I have ate last years; not so good!

1 package of hand Warmers

Bandana

Toilette paper( no laughing matter - I  can't tell you how many socks I've lost over the years)

Knife

Spare Bolt handle - had one fall out once and I could not cycle my gun. Multi tool to the rescue

Shells

Spare call -  I have forgot my lanyard before.

Game lanyard- make sure name and address tag is on it.

Range finder- I want to know exactly how far from a building to ensure we are legal and safe. Check batteries are fresh and  lenses are clean. They also help setting up a spread to know how far out decoys are and the kill hole range. We set max 30 yards out for looker decoys. Set width according to how many blinds and 15 yards for the kill hole. Then you know anything in the spread is a good distance for a clean harvest.

Sun glasses- you can get a headache pretty quickly if you have to watch directly into the sun. Just take them off when birds approach.

Face paint- brand or style is personal preference. You would be shocked how a shinny faces stick out when birds are looking over a spread. No pie facing ever.

Wind check powder

GPS- it puts you on the x in the dark instead of guessing. You can waste a lot of time looking for a blind in the marsh instead of walking right to it. We use the DeLorme inReach.

Watch  (you need to know legal shooting time)

Head lamp (charged up or new batteries)

Fleece skull cap ( yes I have had snow storms and 20 degree days in September season.)

Duck stamp and Hunting license

Land owner permission slips for the new season

I hope this system helps you prepare for the upcoming season and allows you to enjoy the process of getting ready. Both Christine and I feel blessed to be a hunting couple. If you have never taken your significant other hunting do yourself a favor and introduce them to the sport. I promise, you will get more out of the experience than you ever would have imagined.


Matt Ferland
Big Woods Bucks Director of Business Development