A crucial element for Minnesota's early Canada goose hunt: the decoys

Ron HustvedtMy concentration during a particularly enrapturing meeting was interrupted by my phone buzzing in my pocket signaling a text message.

I broke my attention from the exciting topic du jour to take a quick peak and found that it was a former student with a request.

"Hey H, can my buddy and I borrow some of your goose decoys again?" the message read.

"But of course. Stop by school Friday morning." I texted back.

"Thx H!" came a quick reply.

A quick exchange that I'm hoping will pay great dividends down the road. These two young hunters have the drive, time, and the eagerness to head into the outdoors to hunt but they lack the supplies.

Decoys are not cheap, as most waterfowlers are aware. These hunks of plastic cost a pretty penny for spending the majority of the year taking up valuable space in various storage rooms, garages, and sheds.

Because of their expense, a lot of waterfowlers are hesitant to let others use them. Flocked heads coming back damaged are very aggravating when you do it yourself, much less somebody to whom you lent them.

I'm not advocating the lending of your best decoys, but most duck and goose hunters have a collection in the back of the pile that only gets used when creating the largest of spreads.

I texted a few more messages with that student making sure that my goose shells and field stakes were all he needed. I spent quite a bit a few years ago on a healthy supply of full bodies that I try to baby so they last.

My shells usually sit in the truck during a hunt so what do I need them for?

Setting a few young hunters up with two or three dozen of my shells provides them a crucial ingredient for a successful goose hunt. They proved their merits after using them last year so I trust them to do the same this year.

It's a minimal investment on my behalf but for their hunting abilities it's going to really be beneficial. Not only are they getting a better hunting experience, they are able to experiment with different layouts and have more of what it takes to put together the best set-up.

Look through your decoy collection and figure out what you might be able to live without for a weekend or two. Then seek out a waterfowler, young or old, who might just need a few more supplies to have a great hunt and make the offer.

You'll be glad you did. Trust me on that one.

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