How to score on a Conservation Order goose hunt

Geese are wary by this point in the hunting season, so here are some tips to continue enjoying great shooting.

Late-season goose hunting is tough, even with the benefit of expert calling and prime locations. New birds are a long-forgotten luxury, and existing flocks have been educated by three months worth of advanced hunting-pressure classes.

Hunters can tip the odds of getting one last waterfowl shooting fix in their favor with a large decoy and rag spread, said Goose Guide Inc.’s Clint Matthew. The Kaplan native has been guiding hunters to robust bags of specklebellies and, to a lesser degree snow geese and lesser Canadas, for more than 20 years.

“We had a good year overall,” said Matthew as he wrapped up the second-to-last morning of scheduled hunts in the 2012-13 season. “The rain in January made things hard, just like it did for everyone else, but it ended up nice.”

Positively spring-like weather greeted Josh O’Dwyer and four Baton Rouge-area companions at Gulfway Sporting Goods in Kaplan, and after greetings and logistics were satisfied, it was off to the field several miles west. White Nomex suits and T-shirts for head gear were passed out along with a quick safety and efficacy briefing.

“You can look up at the birds, but quit talking when we start calling,” Matthew said. “Shoot for the head. Keep your gun by your side til I say shoot.

“And unless the bird drops out of the sky, keep shooting it. These things have built up armor all year.”

With everyone comfortably set up for shooting, situated in seats in the midst of a labyrinth of shells, rags and full body

decoys, anticipation built as unseen flocks cackled overhead. Birds weren’t long in working the spread as the hunters and

Matthew’s team of guides sang the sweet speckled melody to a mix of flocks and smaller groups of geese.

When the smoke cleared, 13 birds sagged heavily in the strap, the fruits of expert calling, deft shooting and willing feathered participants.

Of course, 4,000 decoys didn’t hurt, either.

“A lot of people look at me funny when I say how many specks we kill over rag spreads,” Matthew said. “But it’s an awesome way to draw birds.”

The special Conservation Order that allows hunting for light geese, which includes snows, blues and Ross’, continues through March 9.