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How to take advantage of fog when goose shooting

Tom Sykes uses the elements to his advantage when shooting geese in the fog and covers some tips on how to stay safe

The weather often determines wildfowling success — and there is something magical about foggy conditions

Wildfowling success is often determined by the weather Mother Nature throws our way. Some harsh conditions such as high winds and driving rain are often associated with being the optimal conditions to get birds in the bag, and it is true that the weather can force birds to fly at lower altitude and thus increase the chance of a shot. But there is another weather type that I love, and that is when the fog rolls in. Fog is often not predicted by the meteorologists, which can make it difficult to plan for these flights; however, I do my utmost to exploit these events when I have the opportunity. 



It was on such an occasion when the fog seemed to roll in mid-afternoon that I scrambled to gather my gear and make a quick plan to head to the marsh. Often the best plan is the simplest when it comes to fog and there is very little gear required. With the guns and ammunition sorted, I grabbed my survival pack out of my decoy bag, including the most important thing of all that every wildfowler should carry: a compass. Hugo and I arrived at the scene and were greeted by dense fog, ideal conditions for an evening flight. 

I took a bearing at the car to confirm my knowledge of the area was correct before striking out to the gutter of choice, which slowly emerged into view after a brisk walk and a few reassuring checks of the compass. I sat Hugo up and continued the remainder of the journey in the hope to catch out an unsuspecting duck or two on the water. I breached over the top of the gutter and a small party of teal erupted too far to my right and soon vanished into the fog. 

A quick call to Hugo had him back by my side as we continued to follow the gutter, looking for the ideal spot to set the ambush for the main event – the geese returning to roost. Once found, we laid in wait in a blanket of moisture. The marsh is an eerie place to be in these conditions, your senses are heightened and everything feels enclosed. Think Magwitch and Great Expectations.



As the sun set, I eagerly waited for the first birds to stir. The objective was to intercept pink-footed geese flighting back from feeding in the fields. I hoped that they would use the main gutter as a navigation route and the fog would force them low. The first skein could be heard on its return to the mud. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end as the calling increased. I waited for the fog to reveal the geese; a faint outline and then more. They were too high and off to one side and evaporated into the evening sky like ghosts. 

I sat tight as the fog grew thicker. The second wave of geese could now be heard making their approach. I started to call to help guide them in and readied myself for action. I scanned the skies and the first bird came into view, followed by others.

It’s best to stick to areas you know well when in fog

They were barrelling down the gutter no more than 15ft up and heading right for me. I jumped up to expose my position and so as to flare the geese. They tried to scatter, allowing me to pick a single goose at the edge of the pack furthest away from my position; it folded and almost disappeared out of sight with a satisfying thud. Hugo was poised for action and soon returned with the bird as another squadron of geese could be heard on the move. 

A little more calling and the geese materialised out of the fog. These were a little further away and more suitable for me to take aim. The first shot missed but two further ones rang out resulting in another couple in the bag. The action was now intense as more geese followed the same line, all while Hugo was in mid retrieve. I let them pass undeterred, sure in the knowledge that more would follow. 

Hugo watches over proceedings

With Hugo back safely, I selected a single pink out of a small bunch. I decided that the last bird more than fulfilled the action and hunkered down to watch the rest of the flight develop. Skein after skein flew over my position, some merely feet above me. It was a magical experience and a once in a lifetime flight. 

I was all but ready to head for home when I heard the distinctive call of greylags. I don’t often shoot many greys but with Christmas around the corner, I couldn’t resist bagging one while I had the opportunity. They appeared out of the fog and my bead lined up with a big old goose, which would be more than enough to feed everyone over Christmas. Bang!