Build Your Goose Vocabulary

“You build your goose vocabulary one piece at a time,” said John Vaca, award-winning goose caller and events and pro staff director with Bushnell.

Vaca suggests starting your calling vocabulary by learning to honk, which is an effective attention-getter. In addition, all novice callers should get a good pre-recorded cassette tape or CD to help them learn the basic honk; starting low and finishing with that break of a high note.

“The honk provides the foundation for your calling, but it’s not the only call you need to learn,” Vaca said. “Once you can blow a good honk, the cluck will come easy because it’s really just a shortened honk.”

Instead of dragging out the low tone of the honk, puff quickly through it to create the cluck. Clucking is highly effective at pulling geese in.

“The cluck can really excite geese,” Vaca said. “When you can learn to string together a series of clucks you can turn geese that would otherwise not give you a second look. Clucking shows emotion. If you start sounding especially excited as the flock is coming, you can tell when those geese are about to commit to landing in your decoys.”

The final basic call every goose hunter should learn is the moan or growl. This low, almost guttural sound shows that geese are content, usually feeding and certainly comfortable with their surroundings.

“Ganders moan, and that can be a killer confidence call,” Vaca said.

The two keys to learning to be an effective goose caller are patience and practice. Vaca suggests practicing one call at a time and working to master it before moving on. Once you have the basic sounds, you can then work on changing the inflection and cadence; moving another step toward mastering the bird’s entire “language.” But without actually listening to live geese sounds, there’s no way to mimic them.

“In addition to a good instructional recording, I also tell people to get out in the field as often as they can and listen to geese,” Vaca said. “Canada geese are so common you should have no trouble finding them at a local city park or golf course. Go there, sit down and listen. Take your call and try out some of the sounds you’ll be trying in the blind come fall. It’s a great way to practice.”