Electronic Goose Calls
These cassette and CD players make a "come-on-down" call an irresistible proposition.
By Gibbs Milliken
In the lightening dawn skies of winter, long skeins of "barking" geese may be heard for great distances as they fly toward daily feeding areas. Calling constantly when on the move, these birds are attracted to convincing call imitations from hunters concealed in or near ground decoys. Next to a correctly set spread, nothing seems better to wild geese than the "come-on-down" calls of the real thing. Portable electronic systems do a much better job of sounding like a large gathering of birds than a few isolated squawks from hunters with traditional hand-held calls.
Until recently, use of recorded goose calls was outlawed as a method of luring migratory birds to hunters. However, with the overpopulation of snow geese and the resulting impact on the arctic tundra, managers have had to resort to more aggressive measures to increase the harvest of light geese. Under the Light Goose Conservation Order, hunters can now use electronic calls to lure these big migratory birds into gun range in East Texas from January 21-March 31 and in West Texas from February 11-March 31, 2002. (Remember: No dark geese can be taken during this period.) Hunters are still required to have a Texas hunting license as well as the state and federal waterfowl stamps. There is no daily or season limit on light geese during this special season.
Designed for calling all kinds of wildlife, battery-powered electronic calls are now available from several manufacturers. Although they are more expensive than hand calls, these models can be used year-round with different recordings to attract all kinds of wildlife. One good quality system currently in production is the Lohman CD Electronic Caller, Model 2555 ($249.99, Outdoor World, (800) 227-7776) with player, rechargeable battery, AC/DC chargers, two 15-watt loudspeakers, remote control and field bag. The advantage of the CD over the conventional cassette tape is that you can pause and start again without distracting tape hiss, chirps or other noises. The fidelity of the amplified calls is much better when using a good digital CD recording. This system, with two speakers on 30-foot wires, allows wider coverage of an area. According to professional guides, the disk player produces louder volume with better range than comparable cassette models. The matching recording Lohman DS-7 CD, Snow Geese Flying and Feeding ($19.99, Outdoor World) provides excellent voice variety. Included with the kit is a wireless remote control for quick and easy volume or track selection up to 30 feet from the player unit.
A second design is the Lohman Wildlife Calling System/Cassette 2000 ($169.99, Outdoor World) featuring a high-volume amplifier and one long-range weather-resistant speaker with 30 feet of wire. Also included are a 12-volt battery, wall charger with LED indicator light, auto lighter charger, and camo carry bag. The Lohman suggested cassette for this system is Snow Geese, CT-14 ($9.99, Outland Sports, (800) 922-9034).
The Johnny Stewart Deluxe Professional Series Game Caller, Model 612-LR ($169.99, Hunters Specialties, (800) 537-0652) is a traditional cassette player with a long-range weatherproof 15-watt speaker on a 30-foot cord, charger and battery. The unit has an auxiliary on/off jack that accepts the Johnny Stewart RC-2 Remote Control ($149.99, Hunter's Specialties), allowing gradual volume output and mute functions with a range of 100 yards. Also from Johnny Stewart is the Power Pro Convert-A-Caller, Model PPC-1 ($129.99, Hunter's Specialties), which consists of an amplifier, weatherproof speaker, battery and audio patch cord in a camo carry bag. It is designed to allow any portable CD or MP-3 player to be converted into a game caller. This company also produces a full line of excellent-quality cassette recordings of wildlife-attracting sounds.
Keep in mind that none of these kits is completely waterproof. The speakers are labeled "water-resistant," but you'll need to protect them from the elements for them to work reliably. It is a good idea to use a waterproof blind-bag or other covering in bad weather.
If you miss the idea of good, old-fashioned hand calls, don't worry. According to waterfowl guide Steve Hendricks of Katy, it is best to add variety to the recordings by using standard mouth or hand calls as well. "This practice is especially effective when the birds are very shy in the late season. That's when they need to be convinced that the repetitious sounds they are hearing are not too mechanical."