Flagging geese is a little known and rarely utilized tactic that can help draw in birds from long distances to your decoy spread. Goose flagging systems help add motion to your spread that mimic live geese which adds realism in order to fool wary birds.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the flagging techniques that work for geese and how you should deploy them in order to be successful. These are the top 5 tips for using goose flagging systems that have proven to work when nothing else will.
What is a Goose Flagging System?
A goose flagging system is a way to attract geese using multiple flags all at the same time with aid of motion stands that elevates flags up and down once activated (usually by a pull-string).
Goose flagging systems allow you to combine multiple flags that can be placed in different areas of the spread that can be activated all at once or individually. This helps add more movement and creates the illusion of feeding geese.
Types of Flags and Flagging Systems Used for Goose Hunting
Avery Power Flag
Rig’em Right Goose Flag
Avery Goose Super Flag
Tips for Flagging Geese
Use these tips to increase your harvest total next season on geese in the field or over water.
1) Coordinate Flagging with Calling
Flags help geese find the decoys from ranges that exceed effective calling strategies. Flagging can also help birds see your spread if you’re hunting in high vegetation like corn or rice. While flagging can help draw them to you, combining these systems with good calling can make for an awesome combo.
Geese use their vision over all other senses, so flagging is the first thing they will notice. Flagging offers a 360 degree view where calling is often only heard from short distances and downwind. Subtle calling is best used with flagging techniques since geese will likely be pretty close when you put up the flag. A few barks to help finish them is all you need.
Decoying geese can be extremely difficult on no wind or calm days and flags help add motion to the decoys when calling alone just won’t cut it. Combining flagging systems with calling is the best strategy for getting geese to decoy when nothing else will work.
2) Don’t Overdo It
One of the worst things to do when flagging geese is to whip the flag around in exaggerated patterns, circles, and figure 8’s. Even from far off this doesn’t look natural and geese will notice it right away. As with 3-inch vs 3.5-inch shotgun shells, bigger isn’t always better, so don’t overdo it.
The best technique for flagging geese is to use a subtle motion and jiggling motion to mimic real wingbeats. Fiberglass poles are great for getting some height above the decoys and can give the appearance of geese swaying and cupped up as they are coming into the decoys.
You can then switch to a lander flag as the geese get closer to help finish them into the spread. Lander flags can be used more rapidly to give the impression of geese just landing in the spread. Handing out flags to other hunters in the spread can add a ton of motion on calm days and complete the illusion even more.
Goose flags come in a wide range of designs and colors so it’s important to pick the best one for your situation. The Avery Goose Super Flag is the largest Canada goose flag and can be seen from the furthest away, while the Molt Gear Magic Mike Goose Flag is a black and white flag and an eye catcher due to the high color contrast. Additionally, flags come in white for snow geese and camo versions so that you can hide behind them as geese approach.
3) Mimic Live Geese and the Way They Act
Geese are constantly looking for natural wing motion that indicates feeding activity. When geese get into a hot field, there is constant hopping around to stay out ahead of the mass. Mimicking this movement of geese constantly hopping around is the key to being successful with flagging systems.
Geese also flap their wings in less stressful situations just stretching and moving their wings from time to time. Watching live geese on the ground is important to develop a system that works and looks natural to the geese in the area.
Wing motion of geese on the ground is natural and something geese will look for before they land. The best technique to get the attention of geese from afar is to mount your flag on a 6-foot fiberglass pole. Extending it up to height and flapping three or four times slowly while bringing it down works the best.
If geese are skirting off, raising your flag halfway off the ground and giving it a few flaps is all you need to get their attention back. There are some subtleties that can only be learned from experience in the field, but once you learn them this technique will bring in more birds rather than just watching them fly away.
4) Flagging Systems Work Best
Whether you use a homemade goose flag or a store bought setup, incorporating a flagging system into your decoy spread will add more movement than using a standard flagger decoy.
I like to use a three flag system consisting of the Hardcore X Flagger stands positioned in different areas of the spread. Each flag can be activated by pulling on a cord and I can mix up the movement based on how the birds are reacting.
The Avery Power Flag is my go to for up close flagging to give the impression that birds have just landed and are settling in. Working the flagging system and the landing flag together is a combination that works really well for late season birds that have seen it all.
Hard Core X-Flagger System
5) Limit Flagging if Birds are Locked Up or Close
Flagging works best when it’s used to grab the attention of birds far away that may not see your spread. Flagging too much or at the wrong times can lead to birds flaring off or ignoring you all together.
Keep flagging to a minimum if birds are locked up or heading your way. A few reassurance waves are all you need at this point. Anything more than subtle movements can give geese something to key in on that looks unnatural. Anytime geese are coming to you, it’s almost always best not to call or flag.
If they make a move to skirt off or lose interest, then you can start flagging and calling to get them back. Otherwise, let the decoys do their job.
Flagging systems are an inexpensive way to add motion to your spread instead of relying on your decoys and calling alone. Flags are simple to use and they last forever. There are no motors or gears that will wear down, break, or need to be replaced.
The Avery Power Flag is a field tested and proven landing flag that every goose hunter should have in their arsenal. Flagging systems like the Hardcore X Flagger allow you to mount flags on motion activated stands that can be positioned in different areas of your decoy spread to give the impression of a feeding flock.
The best tactic for flagging geese is to use the flag to get their attention from far off and then subtle calling to coax them all the way in. You shouldn’t overdo it though, and waving around the flag in unnatural motions will blow your cover quickly.
Mimicking live geese and the way they act is always the best approach when flagging. Using fiberglass poles to get the flags higher to simulate landing geese is a visual that can be seen from the furthest away. Landing flags like the Avery Power Flag can give the impression of birds just landing and is best used up close.
Flagging is a great way to add an element to your spread that few hunters take advantage of. For those calm days when the decoys aren’t moving, a good goose flag might just save the hunt.
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