Mastering basic goose calling techniques starts with learning their honk. Next comes learning double cluck, moan, whine and feeding calls.
All these sounds combine to produce the sound of a feeding flock of geese, while also serving to enable us to read them – their intensity being dependent upon whether or not a goose is threatened, mating, or landing.
Calling geese from either flight or ground means learning the cluck, an intense vocalization that starts low and gets louder as they communicate back and forth to one another. Also known as pleading call, geese perform this call when landing or moving around decoy spreads; other birds hear this sound to stay away.
Clucking patterns designed to attract approaching geese will not only get their attention, but will also reassure them they are safe from attack. Geese are among the smartest waterfowl, using their great memories to recall places and people they have encountered over time. A realistic hunting situation will more likely convince geese they are not at risk through using realistic calls with realistic clucking sounds that mimic reality.
Honking should become an integral part of your clucking routine if geese are not responding to clucking. A honk is a long vocalization that starts low but grows louder over time; it is an ideal way to grab their attention when they don’t respond immediately to clucking.
By and large, if a goose doesn’t respond to your clucking or honks, they likely aren’t interested in an encounter. At this stage it’s wise to increase volume with loud power clucks and hail calls – this should usually get their attention and set the stage for a successful hunt.
Professional goose hunters typically rely on resonant-cavity calls due to their dead-on pitch and ease of use, though other forms such as flute and short-reed styles also exist on the market. All three forms offer advantages and disadvantages; however, new callers typically find that flute style calls give them enough range to easily fool battle-tested geese without exerting too much effort.
The Double Cluck
As geese approach your spread, it is essential that a faster cluck be used as an approach call – similar to honk but shorter and staccato – as an indicator to any approaching geese that they should move quickly away. When combined with double cluck threat call this fast cluck will make clear to approaching geese that they have entered an occupied feeding area and must move on immediately.
As you transition into feeding gabble mode, your calling speed should decrease while maintaining its cadence. Geese are known for making deep guttural herr-onk-herr-onk sounds as they land to alert other geese to where they are. As they land they often backpedal on landing to slow their descent before rapidly clucking three or four times in rapid succession – often time followed by backpedalling to slow further descent before swiftly clucking three times quickly in rapid succession cluck, cluck cluck, cluck.
Along with these traditional calls, you will also hear moans, whines and comeback calls that serve specific functions and should be integrated into your call selection strategy.
Many goose hunters tend to focus solely on honking and forget other sounds needed for success. At the end of the day, however, what truly sets off their birds for shooting aren’t so much the caller as what they hear and when.
No matter the type of call in your arsenal, it is crucial that you experiment with different pitch sounds. Sound travels further than most people realize and a longer note may prove more successful in reaching distant geese. Furthermore, having multiple call designs that vary in pitch may prove helpful when dealing with higher or lower pitched sounds that seem to resonate better with birds – most successful geese callers carry various designs just in case their primary goose call doesn’t do the trick on certain days. This is why many successful callers carry around multiple call designs when calling geese on these days when birds seem particularly responsive – most successful geese callers carry several designs in addition to their primary goose call on these days when birds seem particularly responsive; most successful geese callers carry several slightly different call designs in their vest as this allows them to use whatever sounds are effective against distant geese when calling distant geese more effectively on certain days when birds seem responding better to higher or lower pitched sounds than expected! For this reason many successful goose callers carry multiple call designs in their vest for easy switching when birds respond better or when react better on certain days than expected when different designs might work better! For this reason many successful geese callers carry various call designs with them for use when birds seem responding better or responding better against higher or lower pitched sounds which might require the caller be carrying variations of different pitches on particular days that appear. For this reason most successful geese callers carry some variation.
Geese have an intricate system of vocal communication. To successfully call them, expert callers utilize an array of sounds – long range hail calls, double-clucks, moans and whines, feeding calls mixed in with greeting clucks and honks — in order to convey different messages to passing waterfowl. Reading flocks correctly is key in order to achieve calling success.
Mastering goose calls means mastering their long, low honk; this sound corresponds to when geese are coming in to land or taking off, so getting it just right will ensure they sound realistic and capture passerby birds’ attention.
As geese approach your spread, switch to a higher-pitched honk to indicate when they are landing or taking off – this “herr onk onk” or cluck-uck cluck-uck signal can also help flying geese become acquainted with this noise as they approach from distance. These two calls together are the signature sound of landing flocks as they approach feeding groups from faraway.
Geese are well known to engage in family disputes while on the ground, leading them to use louder calls that differ significantly from when flying overhead. Threat calls, contact calls and deep, slow feeding gabble are just a few types of calls used when feeding on land.
An experienced short-reed caller uses the back of their tongue, not its tip, to regulate airflow into their call and create deeper vocalizations. Novice callers often think more air means better results; but that isn’t necessarily true: geese sound differently depending on how the call is held and air pressure adjusted accordingly.
By employing various sounds and shifting the pitch of goose vocalizations, it can also help you achieve more realistic vocalizations of geese. Many callers find that goose calls sound better on certain days when softened or high-pitched calls are used; changing to wooden calls tends to produce lower pitched tones while plastic ones produce higher ones.
The Fast Cluck
Geese may use aerial contact calls to locate members of their flock. A fast guttural herr-onk-onk or cluck-uck-cluck, often followed by low, slow moaning or whine, is used by geese as they navigate their flightpath to locate members of their flock quickly and securely land at your decoy spread or landing area. Such sounds provide both security and confidence to incoming birds.
As a goose caller, it is imperative that you know when and how to utilize these calls. Geese have various tones and frequencies they use depending on their mood, actions, and conditions – this information is essential in knowing when it is best used as a call.
As an example, geese on the ground may use a slow cluck to maintain communication among family members while feeding. When dominant male or female geese are mating aggressively or landing or taking off aggressively, their cluck becomes faster and louder – an indicator of aggression on either their part or an attack by one or both parties involved.
Beginners often pump large volumes of air into short-reed calls in hopes that increasing volume will make them sound like geese, when in fact it is tongue placement not volume that makes goose calls work effectively. Goose calls sound most convincing when made using pressure from pressing against the back arch of tongue on mouthpiece with pressure; beginners typically use an unconvincing rhythm and pitch that doesn’t replicate real goose sounds properly whereas for optimal results learn to cluck on an appropriate scale which depends on mood or actions of goose.
As you practice, observe and listen to the geese in your area and on the feed field you scouted. Listen carefully as they call out, imitating it in order to attract them towards your spread. Master basic clucks, double clucks, honks and comeback calls so your goose sounds can come together into an impressive repertoire allowing for unforgettable hunts! Until next time… cluck on and don’t stop!