Field hunting for geese in southeastern Wisconsin

It’s not often that lottery tickets fall out of the sky, but based on the smile on Niko Markos' face when he discovered he’d killed a banded Canada goose, you’d think he’d found that the winning ticket fell right into his lap.

“I don’t think you know how rare a band is around here,” he said.  “We just don’t get them out here.”

Markos, 25, of North Lake, is part of  goose hunting group that calls about 100 fields in southeastern Wisconsin their home.  Like waterfowling gypsies, they migrate from field to field looking for the hottest action, which on that day, was in Washington County.  Joining in the hunt were goose hunting fanatics Jordan Johnson and Justin Hennlich, both roommates of Markos.  They were also nice enough to let my dad, Phil, share the fence row with us.

“We don’t  lease these fields,” said Johnson, 25.”We just knock on a lot of doors and offer to help with chores that need done on the farms.  Some goose jerky or sausage for the landowner always is good, too.”

While getting a goose spot isn’t nearly as hard as getting permission for deer hunting, it still can be a challenge.

“It used to be a lot easier to get on a field,” Johnson said. ”The sport is getting more popular and there’s less land to do it on.  The show Duck Dynasty seemed to get people interested.”

The fields around southeastern Wisconsin are good for goose hunting because they are situated nicely in between lakes and the cornfields that border them. 

“Here comes a flock,” Johnson said. “It’s too far. We could probably reach out and shoot a couple, but you don’t want to spook an entire flock unless you know you can connect on several birds.”

Niko Markos with a banded Canada goose.It proved to be a great decision.  Minutes later a couple of birds locked in and one of them never flew again.

Around 8 a.m. flocks started pouring in from the surrounding lakes as the bird stopped by but each gave the decoy spread a look, would start to commit, and then bail. The guys rearranged the decoy spread, hoping that they could figure out what the birds were looking for, and we resumed business.

“You just have to keep experimenting,” Markos said.  “Some days they want one type of spread and the next day they won’t touch it.  The geese and ducks around here get a lot of pressure so you have to be creative.”

Whatever they did worked.  Sure, not every goose came in on a string, but several did.  One flock was so dialed in that we shot five birds from it.

“Now that is how it’s supposed to work,” Markos said.  “Nice shooting boys.”

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Waterfowl, WisBlogs, Wisconsin – Dan Durbin

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