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Flagging Geese Really Works
by Gary Howey

The flock of geese was only a small speck on the horizon. I turned and told Jim what I saw. "Let's flag'em", Jim said, pulling out the huge black flags he had bragged about so often.

Gary Howey with geeseJim and Bert worked the flags overhead as I watched the flock in the distance. Even as I watched, the specks on the horizon made a turn and began heading our way. They continued towards us, getting closer all the time. As they approached, Jim put the big flags away and began using smaller landing flags. As the geese continued their approach, we dropped the hatches and hid inside the blind.

My hunting partner Tom Tideman and I looked at each other in amazement. Flagging was working just like Jim had said it would.

We were hunting near Pierre, SD in early December with Jim Thompson and Bert Balk of Sioux Falls, SD. To say that I was hunting with someone who could really make goose talk is an understatement. Jim was three time South Dakota State goose calling champion.

I had met Jim at the Soo Sport Outdoor Show several years agowhere he was giving waterfowl calling seminars. Jim was also demonstrating a flagging technique he regularly used to attract geese into calling distance.

Like most hunters, I'm from the old school. You know, the camouflage has to be just right, the blind has to blend with the terrain, and decoys have to be perfect. My logic says that waving huge flags had to scare the daylights out of any goose that might see them.

Not according to Jim because these flags were used to attract geese when they were just specks on the horizon. When the geese got nearer, he'd use smaller black "landing flags." The landing flags resemble geese making a landing.

After talking with Jim and looking at a video he had made, it was hard to argue with his success. I made plans to hunt with Jim the next season.

My hunting partner, Tom Tideman from Hartington, NE., and I met Jim and Bert for the hunt, and the next morning found us in a blind in the middle of a wheat field. Jim and Bert spread the decoys, approximately 10 dozen Outlaw silhouettes. These decoys look exceptionally real, since they are actual photos of Canada geese in various positions.

But, back to the flagging ...

The geese Jim had flagged were still heading towards our pit blind. As they moved closer, Jim said "lets jam."

Bert and Jim produced calls and begin calling at a feverish pitch. Each sounding different, but creating goose talk that had the geese looking us over.

The geese swung closer and closer loosing altitude. I thought to myself, is this exciting or what? The look Tom gave me said the same thing. It was great!

The next thing I heard was "Take em!" and as the blind lid shot upward, I shouldered my gun and aimed at a flaring Canada. Four guns roared in succession and two geese tumbled earthward.

"Unbelievable!", I shouted as I raced to headed to pick up the geese, "Lets do it again."

And we did ... over and over again until we had our eight bird limit. The combination of flagging, calling, and the life-like Outlaw decoys really worked.

However, the real proof was to come later since this had been a mid-week hunt with little competition from other hunters. One thing you learn when you hunt waterfowl is that the weekdays are usually better hunting, since there are fewer hunters around.

As the sun rose Saturday a.m., we were not alone in our corn field. Off to our left were three hunters, to our right, two more and across the road another three. They were all several hundred yards away, but if he geese swung wide, they might take a pop at them, or perhaps lure them into their spreads. We had to outdo these other hunters.

As luck would have it, the birds were a bit more skittish today too, normal since it seemed that every roadside ditch and field was filled with hunters.

Then, on the horizon, a huge flock of geese got up. One group of geese seemed to be meandering generally in our direction. Out came the flags, Bert on one and Tom on the other. The geese moved closer and closer. Time to button down the hatch as we were now able to see them well with the naked eye.

Out came the landing flags, and just like clock work the geese zeroed in on our spread. The next thing I heard was let's "jam 'em" as a quartet of goose callers hit the calls. It sounded like a gaggle of geese.

It didn't take long for this to have the incoming geese, eyes fixed on the decoys and wings set, dropping into our decoys. Guns blazed as we rose from the blind. Three geese dropped, and our day was off to a great start.

It's trips like this that make memories. The camaraderie, and the combination of lifelike decoys, enthusiastic calling, and flagging that got the geese headed our way and landing in our spread, had given us a great goose hunt.



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