Little did I know who was coming my way via Facebook last summer. None other than a friend I had lost touch with during my teen years. It was wonderful to reconnect with Jackie after a lifetime of years and miles. We conversed and emailed often, eventually coming to find out she has property near my home. Although she resides and works in N.Cal. she makes frequent trips to my neck of the woods. Among our early conversations we found a common interest in firearms. She has been shooting on a skeet league for a few years now and was totally up for a hunt.
Ah, the stage was being set and I offered her an invite to go waterfowl hunting with me this year. She was excited at the idea and had all kinds of questions regarding gear, shells, etc. etc. I told her to make sure she had good rain gear and enough layers underneath for seriously cold temps and I'd take care of everything else. Not a problem she said and even though her clothing was not camo I told her not to worry, as she'd be in my Final Approach ground blind covered from head to toe and brushed in. She didn't fully understand the language I was speaking, yet she was game for learning.
So it was that we set some dates to hunt for late season geese in S.W. Oregon in the Klamath Basin specifically. The date she headed N. was also during one of the biggest storms of the year and it took her 12 hours including having to chain up to get to my home. Usually it's a 7 hour drive comfortably. It was clear to me that Jackie was still just as gritty and adventurous now, as in our youth. That's not to say that we still don't push the envelope a tad just for sake of doing so. It does keep life exciting that way. After a quick hello and relaxing for a bit we made plans for our morning departure and I gave her a brief overview of what I expected to find where we'll be hunting . It all sounded great to her even though the waterfowl numbers have been low this season. Jackie has spent a good deal of her life in the outdoors and is quite knowledgeable , so I knew a little rain or snow wasn't going to be a problem. The outdoors is where we both are most at ease and I was really looking forward to sharing my love of waterfowling with her.
We left early the next morning, excited and caffeine'd up. Once we got our gear stowed in the cabin we headed out for an afternoon hunt and some recon. The Klamath River was wide open with zero shelf ice and unfortunately no ducks in sight either. We did see some Canada geese on the upper Klamath Lake some 25 miles N.N.E. on our way to Lowlands. I kept the boat hooked up to my truck and backed it into the boat launch area and parked. We were going to hunt the field side of the river dike. This way if we did get a cripple that landed in the river we were ready to retrieve it aided by my boat and a 15 H.P. Mercury outboard. Geese are very fast paddlers and I have lost more than one by not getting to it before it reached a cut bank and hid. We began to shoulder decoy bags, shovels, ground blind and the usual gear. We walked about a 1/4 mile in stubble that was well worn from winter's wrath. As the temperatures warmed so did the ground and the clay in the soil began sticking to our boots. Just like it did when I was a kid hunting the pear orchards for Pheasants in the Rogue Valley. It made for awkward footing and an ongoing task of slinging it off whenever it got to heavy. None the less we made it to where we were going to hunt the next several days and began to dig in- Yes, really physically dig in our ground blinds with a shovel into the face of the dike. Then brush over ourselves so as to be flush with the face of the dike and disappear from the sharp & experienced eyes of late season honkers.
Jackie was fully engaged and having a ball. I wish I had given her the shovel sooner as she is a digger extraordinaire! As we began setting out the decoys Jackie was just beside herself with the landscape and hearing geese off in the distance. She watched as I began attaching heads to bodies (G & H 747) of the field shells and jumped right in. Then we set up the GHG full bodied Spec decoys too. In all we had a couple dozen deeks and with the light S.W. wind we had the Spec decoys had excellent movement. I helped her get situated in the Final Approach Eliminator ground blind then brushed her in. She was happy and ready for whatever and whoever to come flying into range. Not long after I got settled in she was asking "how do you shoot from here"? I said "you throw the top back and sit up and let them have it, just as quick as you can". I told her not to worry that it's much easier when it happens for real then trying to think out all the steps individually. Your reactions will take care of themselves, it's instinctual to a large degree.
Mmm she replied, O.K. and so we waited and talked about all sorts of things. Mostly hunting related and every now and then we'd hear a goose off in the distance, but nothing close. Although when you're with someone who has never hunted geese every goose they hear is exciting and it rubs off on you too. Made me remember back to my early years. A new hunter's enthusiasm is contagious and I was having a blast. The first afternoon came to an end all to quickly and as we broke our set and stashed the decoys, Jackie was giving me the run down of our evening dinner menu. Let's just say she cooked up some wonderful meals including homemade French Bread with fresh Rosemary and Cracked Pepper. It was well worth the wait.
With two more full days left of hunting our enthusiasm was still running high. These were the last days of the 2009/10 waterfowl season and patience was a pre requisite for late season goose hunting. Good things come to those who wait, or at least that's what my mom used to tell me.
I'll let you know how it all turned out and if Jackie got her first goose or not.
Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt