The first Specklebelly that I shot was at my Aunt’s farm in Saskatchewan. I shot at what I thought was a small Canada and what I picked up was an immature Greater White-Fronted Goose (Speck). Matt P. shot his first Speck outside of Hanna Alberta last fall. I just love hunting these beautiful Tundra birds. Not only are they a bird that make excellent ‘table fare’ but each adult Speck has unique markings on their chests. In Canada where we hunt there is a limit of 5 of these birds a day. They are a challenge for sure but when you start to learn how they think, it is very possible to limit out on them consistently.
The Specklebelly is a very vocal bird, they Yodel and yammer up a storm when they are flying in groups. Single and lonely birds call out loudly, these are the birds that you hear long before you can pick them out of the sky. Learning to call these birds is a worthwhile task, if you are wanting to purchase a Speck call please read the review I made last week Product Review – Duck Commander Pro Series Speck Call .
If I were to describe what Speck hunting is like, it’s really a Tale of Two Seasons. The early fall season sees Specks coming down from their tundra nesting grounds around opening day in Alberta/Saskatchewan. Where we hunt it is common to see some Specks in the area. They are usually in family groups or small groups of 6-15. I find hunting these birds incredibly frustrating. I am usually targeting Canadas and ducks early September and will throw some Speck decoys into the spread to try and lure a wary Speck in. I can count on one hand how many that we have shot during the first 2-3 weeks of September. Most groups will stay outside of the 75 yard range and just annoy you. I have debated whether wrapping my lips around my shotgun is a better use of my time than targeting specks early season. During the 3-4th week of September something wonderful happens, the Snow Geese arrive and the Specks transform overnight.
The Specks nest farther south in the tundra than their Snow Goose buddies who nest waaaaaaaay up north. When they are re-united with their white comrades they transform into a bird that will decoy and loose a good portion of their wariness. At this point we usually abandon most of our Canada decoys and haul out our snow goose gear. We find that when the Snow Geese arrive the large Canadas vacate the area. We do not get a lot of lesser Canadas or Cacklers but the few that we see are mixed in with the Snows and Specks.
Speck Decoys will give you a great advantage, Specks really do decoy well to their own species. If you learn where to place a good amount of Speck decoys in your spread you can really slam them. How many Speck decoys should you get? I think the amount depends on how many Snow decoys you are running. We are running 1000 Snow decoys and 120 Speck decoys. The decoys are a mix of shell, headless windsocks and headed windsocks. We have some Speck full bodies as well but I think they take up too much room in the trailer and get the crap kicked out of them. The more Speck decoys that we have had in the field, the better our success at the end of the hunt.
I will show you a crudely drawn map of the basics of most of our Snow/Speck Spreads. We will change the shape/length/rotary machine locations depending on wind conditions or field/crop layout. The green blob is where we put our Snow Goose decoys and the yellow blobs are where the Specks decoys go.
We will run 4-6 layout blinds usually and we will pack Snow decoys around us. We will usually make one or two legs of decoys that can stretch out as far as 350 yards away from our blind giving the illusion of size. We keep our rotary machines 25 yards in front of us along with the e-caller. Since we started doing this we have found that the birds decoyed better but also we found that most of our dead birds were within 10 yards of the e-caller and rotary machines. But what about the Specks? We will make two arms off the side of our decoys. The important thing is we make the arms 25 yards away the blinds. We divide our decoys into clumps of 7-9 and make them look family groups. We stick to 25 yards because we find the decoying Specks will want to land either on the Speck decoys or between the Speck decoys and the main body of Snow Goose decoys. This makes for a very easy shot. If the Specks land on the very outside of the Speck decoys they are 40 yards away and are still shootable.
Last season we had Geese diving into those Speck decoys. We even found live Specks walking around un-shot in the decoys. Guess we fooled em. Many mornings we were limiting out on Specks in an hour and the rest of the morning was spent shooting ducks, snows, cranes, lesser Canadas, and watching Specks drop into our decoys. This has worked well for us so I wanted to share it with you. Perhaps you may get better success or if you are hunting with me, you will know how we set our gear up and impress us all!
If you have any tricks of the trade please feel free to drop me a line or make a comment. I am always wanting to get better and just love talking about Specks. To send us off, I thought i would include some of the pics of some nice birds taken Fall 2015. Good hunting!