“Goose Hunting on a Budget” – Real Redneck Don Millard

Posted on: March 24, 2016, by :

Goose Hunting on a Budget



When I was 15 and for a lot of years thereafter I would try to ambush geese as they flew low over cover to enter a field, jump them on ponds or wait in some cover in the direction that I figured they would leave the field and hope they were low enough to shoot. Obviously this did not yield many geese and if I was to take one or two I got really excited.

Years later after Todd (my son) was old enough to hunt and I managed to afford about two dozen full bodied shell decoys and a couple layout blinds that were actually oversized goose decoys that came down over your head and upper body as you lay partially propped up on a hammock affair. You would look out through slots in the back of the goose body blind and raise it when ready to shoot with the help of a spring that kept the goose body upright. With so few goose decoys we opted for a family setup. This set up still works very well today for anyone that is just starting out or does not have the means to buy dozens of decoys.

We would position our blinds with the wind directly at our back. The geese would approach to land directly into the wind and in to our faces. Coupled with our goose blinds also being oversize decoys, we would place a few shells around us. Then we would step off 40 to 45 yards directly with the wind across from us and place 5 or 6 shells there. Now we moved to the centre between the two sets and paced out 20 to 23 yards directly to the left and right of center and place two more 5 or 6 shell groups making family groups at these points. We now had four family groups of decoys placed at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock with us laying at 6 ‘clock with our backs to the wind. The geese when coming to the field would decoy to the families after seeing no other geese in the field and would invariably land somewhere in that circle without ever getting too good a look at us or the decoys. They were always in range and I do not recall if ever any geese landing outside that circle. Some however did not seem to be committed to landing but were well low enough to take as they flew over us into the wind. A family set up is still one that works today even with greater numbers of decoys and brushed in layout blinds. There are many ways to set up your decoys, but this is just one way that we discovered worked for us early in our goose hunting experiences.

Today we still hunt with those shells but have added dozens of Big Foot, Avian X and other makes of full bodied decoys. Our favorite setup today is a “J” pattern.

We load the bottom of the pocket with decoys that are very realistic and then fan out other decoys in an arc both to the left and right of the main bunch of decoys keeping with the direction of the wind. This creates a shorter line of decoys fanning out from the main bunch down to half the shells. The left leg or arc is twice as long and also thins down to the other half of the shells. We place our brushed in layout blinds about 15 yards down the left arc looking directly across to the other leg of decoys. We are now facing across the wind which is blowing from our right to our left. The idea is to attract the geese to our decoys as they come down into the wind and get them to follow the long leg of decoys encouraging them to aim for the pocket as their landing point. The reason for our most lifelike decoys being in the main group at the base of the pocket is that this is where their main focus will be. Hopefully they will not detect even the slightest inkling that we are hidden in the left leg and will be ready to shoot at them crossing left to right as they make their approach. We have actually flipped open our blinds and sat up and shot before they even seem to realize that they are in danger. Remember the wind dictates the way the geese come in. They always land into the wind. Shooting in a safe direction dictates which leg of the “J” is longer. One hunt in the early goose season of 2011 we had no choice but to use a “J” pattern. The wind was blowing from East to West. If we set up in the pocket of a normal “C” pattern or the pocket of a “J” pattern we would have been shooting toward the land owner’s house. If we set up on the south leg of a “J” we would be shooting at the road. We made the north leg longer and set up among the decoys in that leg. The geese performed flawlessly and we shot an early season limit of 20 geese as they made their final approach.

**See Diagrams Below**

I would like to reiterate that we still have enjoyed great success with the family setup and have used it on the bank of ponds without floaters in the water. I would like to mention that ducks have also decoyed to both of these set ups without a duck decoy even being present. Give the family set up a try. I think you might be amazed. Good hunting and remember being a Real Redneck means looking out for others and that creates a Redneck Country. #BUILDCOMMUNITY

Don Millard

Real Redneck

Redneck Country


Family Setup

J Pattern Setup

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