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Cornfield of DREAMS

Take advantage of existing cover by hunting standing corn in silage fields for early goose season success

September 24, 2010
By Matt Heinrichs - Outdoors Columnist

The world of hunting seems to change year to year.

Tactics and equipment change as a result of trying to stay one step ahead of the quarry of choice as they continue to adapt to whatever we toss at them.

Eventually gimmicks are sorted through and tossed to the curb and what works remains - until it is replaced by the next "latest and greatest".

Article Photos

Silage fields create a unique opportunity for early season goose hunters that can produce great results.
EDN photo by Matt Heinrichs

Two things that will never diminish in importance, however, are your ability to be at the right place at the right time and to remain undetected.

With Iowa's early Canada goose season opening this Saturday, I think it's time we revisit an old tried and true beak busting tactic: hunting standing corn in silage fields.

This is without question my preferred method for taking early season honkers because the odds are stacked so greatly in the hunter's favor.

First of all, to put it bluntly, early season geese are stupid.

The majority of geese in the area are local and young.

They haven't been shot at from Canada to Mexico for the past three years. They don't know dates, times or refuge boundaries. They are unsuspecting and if you play your cards right, you can hunt the same field day after day throughout the early season with great success.

Secondly, in the early season there is a limited amount of food sources available. We all know the fondness that Canada geese have for pecking in our abundant Iowa corn fields for waste grain.

A cut silage field in the early fall provides geese their first access to these grains and it doesn't take long for the word to get around.

This concentrates large numbers of geese in usually small areas, a deadly combination for hunters.

Thirdly, and most importantly, silage fields are usually cut into strips, leaving standing corn on at least two sides which gives the hunter the ultimate ability to blend in and stay undetected.

Sure you could pull out your fancy layout blinds and try your best to blend them in to the bare corn stubble but why not take advantage of the existing cover?

The trick to hunting standing corn is getting geese in close.

When I?say early geese are stupid, I mean stupid - but still geese. It's tough getting geese to finish close to standing cover like corn, trees or even high grass regardless of the time of year.

As in most other situations, wind direction is the key factor. However, I've come to find that the conventional method of placing the wind at your back is actually a hinderance in this scenario. More often than not, you will have your geese stop short of your decoys to avoid getting too close to the cover.

I prefer to have the wind in my face.

This tactic gives the hunter the best opportunity for close in shots either as the geese swing into the decoys or as they pass over head.

Decoy placement is usually not a big factor. I typically try to keep my spreads on the small side - somewhere between one and two dozen is plenty - and I try to make them as realistic and relaxed as possible.

You want your spread to mimic how the geese have been arranging themselves in the field previously by breaking up the decoys into small family groups.

The idea is to leave multiple pockets for the approaching geese to land.

Calling is almost a non-factor.

The geese have been there before, they want to be there again. It's not like you are trying to pull migrators from a mile up. You don't need to do any convincing. As my grandpa always says, use the KISS method. Keep it simple stupid.

Aggressive calling simply isn't needed and in fact you could do more harm than good. Use simple clucks and moans to pull those unsuspecting early season geese in to meet their demise.

Silage fields are without a doubt deadly when it comes to hunting early season honkers.

Give it a shot this weekend and you'll soon be a believer too.

Until next time, good luck and good hunting.



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