***This is a guest post from Hubby.
Goose hunting is 95% waiting and 5% action. You sit for hours in the blind chitchatting followed by a few seconds of shooting. But in those few seconds, it was pure excitement. Adrenaline pump in fast, muscles tighten, and your mental acuity shoots up. Everything rises to that singular objective – bring those birds down. I didn’t hesitate. There were no moral debates. This wasn’t Bambi stopping for a sip in the stream. These were moving birds flying 30-50mph – tough shots by any standards.
Perry and I in the blinds. That thing on my head is a hatcam.
This was my first hunting trip – a post-wedding Bachelor’s party with my three groomsmen in 2010 up in the Finger Lakes. It was late season, cold as heck, and we didn’t know what to expect. All we could do was over prepare in research and equipment. Yes, we faced the possibility of not hitting anything.
It was quite an interesting learning experience. We drove out to a corn field 6am in the morning and all squeezed into a “blind,” which is just a row of corn stalks propped up to hide us from the flying birds. The geese were on their annual winter migration down from Canada to Southern US. They slept at a nearby lake at night and flew out in the morning to feed. Our “hunt” was hiding in the blind, calling, and waiting for them to come in close enough for a shot.
Corn stalk blinds at daybreak. All birds on the ground are decoys.
Does this remind you of Nintendo’s Duck Hunt?
Even though tons of geese flew by, it was not easy getting them to fly in close enough. You have to tempt them with decoys on the ground and mimic their sounds with Goose Calls. This is what you pay the guides for. They provide the private hunting ground, set up the blinds and decoys, called to the goose, and told you when to pop out for a shot. They also had a trained dog to bring back downed birds.
Our guides set up the decoys on the ground. They are a mixture of wooden cutouts and plastic hulls.
Stella the dog bringing back a downed bird.
Entire flocks bypassed us all the time. Sometimes, a few birds broke away from the flock to investigate after hearing our calls. We had to make those instances count. Each of us had 3 rounds each in our shotguns (2 + 1 in chamber as required by law). Half the time, once you miss on the first shot, the birds are already out of range and you are just wasting ammo. What I remember most was that I wish I had a bigger gun with bigger shells. Even the heaviest loads (3” high velocity shells) don’t seem to reach out far enough.
These snow geese flew too high up for us to call and shoot. Large flocks of 60-100 went by.
We were good shots and hit birds left and right. Birds landing, birds turning away, crossing laterally, crossing overhead – there was nothing we couldn’t do. As long as the birds came in, we always managed to take at least one (within range anyway).
First couple of hits.
It’s hard to describe the feeling. No matter how many birds fly in at once, you zero-in on one and make it yours. When you’re focused and dialed in, the shotgun becomes an extension of your arm. You point into the air and say, “that one.”
The obligatory hunting picture. Stella the dog grabbed most of these birds for us after we took them down.
Mike posing with his bird.
Hunting was the easy part. Prepping the food was long and tedious. I’ll follow up with that in part II.