Having spent the better part of opening week sick, I eventually regained my strength and returned for the final week of the season. Although I had not forgotten the skybusters ruining opening weekend. All I was able to do is hope they had been visited by a state game officer, informing them about shooting hours and maybe even gave them a warning or more. As of this writing I have not heard the outcome of my reporting them.
Anyhow, Dan and I agreed to meet up on Thursday and see if our luck was any better than the first week. I hunted Thursday evening and had little success while mostly trying to pattern the geese for the following days. Dan arrived late Thursday evening after a long days work and was more than ready to decompress and get some field time in. He hadn't hunted at all during the regular season and we were both excited to hunt together.
The next morning we hunkered in a small ditch next to an over grazed pasture, which was adjacent to the Klamath River where the Specs had been spending the night. We had nothing more for cover than camo netting as we waited for the geese to arrive. We spent a few hours listening to them vocalizing amongst themselves before they finally made their move. They are smart birds and have keen sight so we had to take advantage of even the slightest shot opportunities they provided. The shots were long and in the end of our first morning we each had 1 Spec to our credit. Dan was able to retrieve his from the field while mine had made it to the river and died there. It was to far out for me in my chest highs, so I drove up to the cabin and got Jet to help me. I marked the bird for her and she made a wonderful retrieve swimming out some 30 yards or so. Considering her age and fast decline in physical abilities this season, I was very proud of her effort.
After retrieving our birds, we headed for the cabin and a late brunch followed by much conversation about how and where to make our next hunt. There were about 300 to 500 Specs in the immediate area feeding in the fields for a few hours in the mornings, then returning to the river for the duration of the day. Not until after evening shooting hours did a portion of them return to the fields for a quick evening snack. So our best opportunity was the morning hunt and it took a lot of years of experience to decide just where to set up.
We opted for the number 1 field next to the river. Using the dig out excavated from my previous hunt with Jackie, we again took our positions. We had set out 6 full bodied GHG Spec decoys and with the light breeze they were moving well. As the sun began to rise the continual chatter from the Specs in the river behind us was making our hearts beat faster with each crescendo. Anticipating their taking to flight is an exercise in controlling of ones adrenaline, patience and learning the subtle nuances of their vocalizations. Ultimately being rewarded for such diligence in ways that are both unexpected and unpredictable. Once they finally decided to feed they came off the water in succession, not all at once, but in small bunches. With the sun in our eyes on the horizon we had a small flock land in our decoys. Whatever Dan and I were talking about ended abruptly and our attention was now squarely focused in front of us at 40 yards. We eased our camo netting up over the bill of our hunting caps with one hand to help shield our eyes from the blinding sun, while our other was firmly a hold of our shotgun. We are now frozen in whatever position we uttered our last words. With our hearts pounding the small flocks continued to circle our spread and eventually land. Our small set of decoys worked their magic and we were now looking at (and being looked back at) approximately 200 or more live Specs in our decoys at some 40 to 60 yards away. I was almost speechless and I whispered to Dan, what do you want to do? As we were both waiting for the other to make the first move, after a bit of quiet whispering we agreed on taking the next group that offered us a shot as they circled overhead. It wasn't long before we broke the silence and took aim skyward. The Specs in our decoys took off with great surprise and more noise than one can imagine. We had our days limit and were amazed at what we had just witnessed. Neither Dan or I had ever had that many live geese in our decoys before. It was an experience that neither of us will soon forget, if ever. Especially the handful of sentry's that kept a sharp eye on us, knowing something wasn't quite right yet not being able to clearly bust us.
We had succeeded at fooling some of waterfowls wisest birds. No doubt had we stayed silent they would have continued to land in front of us. Although we were becoming quite stiff, and even a bit cramped in the cool morning air lying on the frozen dirt face of the dike. We were all grins as we both got to standing and working the kinks out of our frozen poses. The down side were there to be one, is that we had also just educated all those geese to the subtleties of hunters.
None the less Dan and I had several great days of hunting Specs and portability was a key ingredient to our success. Just as the geese learned where not to go, we learned to better guess where they were going to go. It was about being in the right place to intercept their movements while coming off the river en route to feed. Soon Dan was on his way back home while Jet and I stayed to finish the last 3 days of the season. More of those stories to come down the road. Oh, and the skybusters were no where to be found, or heard!
Women's Hunting Journal Integrity For The Hunt