Chokes play a huge part in any waterfowler setup. They allow us to control the pellet pattern according to our hunting style.
Typically for goose hunting, a full choke is one of the better options, but there are a few other choices.
Goose hunting Chokes Pass Shooting
Your choke choices are going to vary greatly depending on your style of shooting. Pass shooting is generally going to put you at a much further range than decoying.
The geese are also going to be moving faster, and there will be slim chances of an opened wing shot.
Full chokes will produce an extremely tight pattern, especially with steel or tungsten loads.
However, as I mentioned, pass-shooting geese usually mean distant targets. These targets are also hard to take down but big-bodied.
Generally, you are aiming for 60% of the pellets to hit the target. A choke that is too open will not make 60% to the target.
Granted, you will need better aim with a full choke, but as I just mentioned, the target is large enough.
A full choke will land 70% of its pellets in a 30-inch circle at 40 yards. This may be a little different for steel shot, but check with your choke manufacturer to be sure.
Improved Modified Choke
If you are shooting steel or tungsten loads, and most likely you are, you may find the pattern of a full choke too tight.
This also depends on your area of pass shooting. If you are in a nice treeline and find the geese are passing close enough, then you may opt for an improved modified choke.
The improved modified choke is about .005 percent less constrictive than a full choke.
This will give you a little more spread on your pattern, which is great if the geese are passing a little closer.
However, if they are that little further out, I would recommend sticking with a full choke.
Where the full choke lands 70% at 40 yards, an improved modified choke lands 65% in 30 inches at 40 yards.
This is certainly more than enough to bring down a goose, but you are going to lose a little of that range.
However, as you are most likely shooting steel or tungsten, you may find that pattern a little tighter.
Another option is to choose slightly bigger pellets; this will also increase the range a little and still have enough power behind it for geese.
Goose Hunting Chokes Decoying
Decoying geese allows you to open up the spread a little bit. The birds are often coming in much closer to you and can be taken with a full-frontal shot.
The modified choke is the choke of choice for many waterfowlers for geese.
I find the modified choke to be very forgiving when decoying geese. It has a tight enough pattern for birds that don’t fully commit or to take a second or third shot.
It also has a wide enough spread for when the geese peel off. If you are out in a layout blind, the geese will often peel before you get a shot off; it’s not like ducks where you can draw them right in and stall them.
The modified choke has a .020 constriction and a 60% pattern in 30 inches at 40 yards.
Most decoyed geese are going to be taken is going to be less than or at least 40 yards for the first shot.
This is why the modified is such a great choke because it lets you get off a second and third shot should you wish.
The modified choke is also a great option for putting a duck or two in the bag on a goose hunt.
Skeet 2 (Light Mod)
The last choke I would recommend for goose hunting is the skeet 2 or light mod choke.
It’s the next choke down from the modified, but still with enough range for geese.
However, I usually only use this one on overcast days when geese are flying low and readily coming into the decoy spread.
It’s not a huge difference from the modified, but it’s enough of a difference to refrain from taking long shots.
However, similar to the other chokes, by using steel and larger pellets, you can tighten the spread a little and make a little more distance.
The skeet 2 choke has a .015 constriction and puts 55% in 30 inches at 40 yards.
You can see here that where the modified will happily work out to 40 yards, the skeet 2 is just shy of it; this is why I only recommend it for close-in decoying.
I suppose the perfect setup would be a double-barrel with a skeet 2 in the first barrel and a modified in the second.
However, for most, myself included, I will stick to a semi-auto and a modified choke.
Waterfowling wouldn’t exist without chokes, or at least it will be extremely difficult.
Goose hunting is similar to duck hunting but also different enough that it warrants different chokes.
If you are pass-shooting geese, I would recommend a full choke, and if you are decoying, you can’t go wrong with a modified choke.