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What Is a Goose Decoy?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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A goose decoy is used to lure geese into a hunter's shooting range and can be of many different styles and designs. The first type of goose decoy was typically a carved wooden replica of a goose that could be coupled with other decoys in different poses to entice a flock of geese to land in a given area. The modern goose decoy is often manufactured with a plastic or composite frame covered with lightweight nylon, occasionally including movable components to simulate flapping wings. Some goose decoys are actually very large and allow the hunter to lie concealed inside of the body section of the decoy only to rise up out of the decoy to fire at passing birds.

Geese are very social birds that feed and travel with many other birds whenever possible. Hunters, realizing this, use a goose decoy to simulate other birds feeding in an open field and urge other birds to also feed in the field. By placing many decoys out over a wide area, passing geese see the area as fine to feed in and attempt to join what they perceive as other birds having a rest and a meal. Wise hunters will use many differently-styled goose decoy bodies to make the ground appear to be covered with birds in many states of motion.

The earliest goose decoy designs were very accurately depicted by artists and carvers and were very closely modeled after a real bird. Some of the best decoy carvers would include features such as sinus ducts and eye lids in an attempt to trick the real birds into believing that the decoys were actually real birds. Eventually, hunters began using decoys that merely resembled a basic goose shape and color. Some types of modern goose decoy are nothing more than a triangular piece of black-and-white nylon that is allowed to blow in the wind simulating a moving goose.

The new goose decoy is easy to carry into the field in numbers and is also very effective in calling birds to the ground through the use of revolving pin-wheel type wings and pivots, which allow the decoy to turn around in the wind. Other styles of decoy include plastic goose-shaped shells, which can be easily stacked when transporting them to the field. While the basic goose decoy remains very closely styled regardless of species being hunted, hunters often customize their decoys by painting them to match their quarry.

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