Friday, February 5, 2010

35 Years In The Making, A Goose Hunt Pt. 2

After a short hunt on Thursday afternoon we had a wonderful dinner and got ready for an early start on Friday. The alarm sounded at 5:oo a.m. and we hit the floor and got the coffee started, followed by a fire in the wood cook stove. Grabbed a quick breakfast for the field and left the cabin at 6:15. We had the decoys all set out by shooting time at 7:o2 and now it was up to the geese to do their part.

We spent many hours tucked away in our ground blinds as the snow, sleet and rain squalls passed over us without any real discomfort. We had light to moderate S.S.W. winds which gave the Spec Full Body decoys, excellent eye catching movement. The weather was just fine and we were both being patient waiting for the geese to start flying. We heard several talking amongst themselves not to far away, at least as distance goes when your waiting it out. After several hours we decided to take a break and head to the cabin for lunch then come back out for the afternoon hunt. It was good to get out of our cocoons and stretch the legs a bit. We didn't stay to long in the cabin and resumed our posts by early afternoon and Jet joined us. I re arranged the decoys a bit just because that is the typical thing a hunter does if there haven't been any geese coming by. We waited and waited and waited some more. I took Jet back to the truck with an hour left of legal hunting light. She was out of patience and not enjoying being still. Then I resumed my position. It was quitting time on Friday evening and even though we never fired a shot we did see some geese flying and moving, just not in our direction. As I have observed for many, many years I knew that the geese had their own flight plans filed and were sticking to them. Trying to call them in was going to be a challenge.

Again we broke down our decoys and stashed everything against the dike. Making sure to cover the decoy heads so they didn't get rained on and frozen. That doesn't help the realism factor in the early morning hours. Rambled back to the cabin and had a wonderful dinner and got ready for our last morning hunt of the year. We decided to not leave the cabin quite as early cause the geese didn't fly til well after shooting light.

After a good nights sleep we got up and got back out there to our ground blinds and were set up before 7:30 A.M. We heard the geese chatting it up from the usual direction and we remained optimistic. I have had geese come in to my decoys in stealth mode, totally silent til all I heard was the beating of their wings as they made their final approach. That's pretty much one of those adrenaline infusions that warms you instantly from head to toe as your eyes become saucers and your heart pounds like a bass drum in your ears. drowning out every other sound. I kept telling Jackie it can happen at any moment, just be ready. Or if one decides to answer the call of mother nature, or stretch their legs, or fiddle with the decoys, these are the times that quite often the geese will point themselves in your direction.

It wasn't much later that we saw and heard a couple geese heading our way. I told Jackie to stay down and don't move. Whatever you do just don't move! There were 3 Canada Geese flying directly at our location and they weren't to terribly high either, though they were still out of range. They were vocalizing and as they came over us I gave them a short acknowledgement call and that was all. Sometimes less is more and this was certainly one of those times. They swung over us twice eyeballing every detail on the ground, making sure the decoys were legitimate and that no predators were lurking around the dike. I gave them another short call and they seemed confident in their assessment. On their third pass after they swung over the dike they began dropping in elevation and began to stretch out their landing gears while spotting their landing amongst the decoy. I could hardly believe my eyes when they began to come in for a landing. I was adrenalined up full throttle and kept telling Jackie "don't move, don't move," and as they began to back peddle with their wings and were a foot or two above the decoys I yelled, NOW! We both sprang up and let both barrels go. We had two geese on the ground cripples with broken wings. We reloaded to try and get the third, yet he had gained to much distance and managed to scathe away. I was running to catch my goose and I told Jackie to shoot again, and she made a good shot on her goose. I was able to catch up with mine and dispatch him without having to shoot again.

We were thrilled and it was only 9:00 in the morning. Unbelievable I told Jackie, that is the hardest thing to do decoying late season Canada's. She was speechless with excitement and could hardly stand it. I was amazed at how well she held tight and didn't move a muscle. Hell, it's hard for a seasoned veteran to not twitch when you've got those big geese circling your decoys. They look closer than they are because of their size and you have to wait and let them get to within real shooting range. Jackie couldn't believe how fast she was able to sit up in the ground blind and shoot and didn't even remember how she did it. That's good, nothing like be present and fully in the moment. We celebrated and I congratulated Jackie on her first goose ever and what a goose it was! A well educated late season Canada Goose. They don't come much smarter than that. We did a good job to conceal ourselves and not wiggle. Also setting up the decoys far enough away from the dike to give the real birds the illusion of safety, yet being just within range.

We got settled back in and waited for another hour or so then we headed to the cabin for lunch and to process our birds. After shooting the geese Jackie was having a challenging time of sitting still. A bad case of ants in the pants one might say. We had a fun time going back over the scenario and did so for the rest of the trip. We finished the day at 5:09 P.M. and broke our set after nothing else flying the entire afternoon. Bagged everything up and readied our gear for home. Jet was happy to see us and we had some great food all the while replaying our few moments of excitement over and over and over. I'll tell you, nothing like being with an old friend whose never shot a goose or even waterfowl hunted til 2 days before then shoots her first Honker! That's a moment I'll never forget. Congratulations Jackie, you hunted hard, were patient, a great student and shot like a seasoned veteran! Looking forward to our next hunt and thanks for the great memories.

Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt


Jennifer Montero said...

Amazing! I had an adrenaline rush just reading the account! Well done on calling your late season honkers. How many of your hunting years' experience made that possible. Glad you caught up with an old friend too.

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

I understand about keeping the dog still. Nice story and perfect ending!

Terry Scoville said...

Jennifer, it took just about all my years afield to have this late season success. I have certainly moved to soon and blown it, not letting the geese get close enough. Thanks for your comments and I will have a goose recipe for you soon.

Karen, yea dogs can be a challenge when statue performance is needed. Those brown eyes and black head following the birds in flight doesn't help in bringing them to the decoys. I have some making up to do with Jet.

The Downeast Duck Hunter said...

Good deal Terry, always a good way to wind the season down...

I watched January slip by as my boat found itself under warranty work partially due to fuel separation. Got to love ethanol "enrichment"...

Talk to you soon!!!

suzee said...

Terry... so glad your season ended on such a high note... and to be able to share it with a friend doubles the pleasure! I've watched videos of goose hunters in those ground blinds and don't think I'd have the discipline or the fortude... and I'm totally amazed that you can spring up from a prone position and hit your target!

gary said...

Sue told me last night that I better check your blog out as you finished your hunt, and what a finish it was. I could just imagine Jackies adrenaline laced chatter as it hasn't been that long ago since I sat back and enjoyed Sue's on both the moose and deer. Great fun to be with someone on their 'first'. Glad for your success!!

Terry Scoville said...

Suzee & Gary,
Well it still amazes me too. It's one of those experiences that your body knows what to do and is more a matter of keeping ones gray matter at bay so as to not over analyze the process. Jackie certainly was a bit more challenged in patience after getting her first goose. I understand that completely. It was such a wonderful hunt and an absolute treat to be a part of it!

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