By Bret “T-Bone” Amundson
It could have been the comment my sister made on Facebook about this picture:
Or maybe the way General Cory Loeffler from DRC Calls would tell us to “man our battle stations” every time a “squadron” of Canada geese would appear on the horizon, but it felt a little bit like we were at war with these big, migratory birds during the last few days.
Just to clarify, there is no way that I would actually ever equate goose hunting to war, obviously, and if Canada actually invaded, we’d be more likely to work out our differences with a serious game of pond hockey, if we didn’t stop to ice fish at intermission anyway.
Conditions were a bit harsh over the last two days of goose hunting near Fergus Falls, Minnesota. As I left the Fargo Moorhead area at 6:30 yesterday, I watched the truck thermometer descend like the ball on New Years Eve. A crisp 16 degrees greeted us as we trekked across the cornfield in search of our home for the next few hours: a well hidden, out of the wind goose pit dug into the ground.
Mika didn’t like the idea very much. She likes to have her eyes on the skies at all times, but the rest of us didn’t complain about the shelter one bit. Unfortunately, the geese didn’t find it as inviting,as they passed us over for greener pastures.
We did manage to fool a few, and Mika shot out of that bunker before any feathers hit the ground. This summer we’ll be doing some steady work. I haven’t made that a priority yet, as I don’t want to diminish her desire, but keeping a dog from the retrieve until it’s safe to go is a good way to keep your dog alive. An anxious moment followed as she returned, goose in mouth with blood splattered across her side in a small bb-like pattern. To be blunt, it looked like she’d been shot. Knowing her pain tolerance and exuberance for birds, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had been shot and just didn’t know it yet. If there had been some good looking male dogs around, she might have milked it a bit.
One quick scan by our field doctor revealed no gsw’s and we broke for lunch. The next stop would be the nearby shallow river. It wasn’t just wind we needed to deal with, now ice and water were a part of the equation. I strapped on Mika’s flak jacket neoprene vest, and we waded across the river. A few more geese would splash, but overall the day was a bit slower than hoped.
Day Two greeted me with a welcome surprise, as temps were about 10 degrees warmer than the day before. That was until I stepped outside and was greeted with a 7-degree wind-chill.
The plan was to river hunt again, only this time with a warmer layer or two. Geese weren’t quite moving yet and the ones that were didn’t feel like decoying. Jerks.
We had a good spread, a North American Goose Calling Champion and the esteemed 2012 calling champ from Goose Fest, reassuring these birds with “come hither” honks.
It’s nice to just get the shotgun out and crank off a couple of shots to keep from rusting up, which is why I took three shots at a cupped single who committed just in front of me. I felt better, however, as it took at least 3 shots from the rest of the crew to bring the goose down. I’m blaming Canada. After, I dropped and did 20 pushups.
As always, it’s fun to get out, even if we had more windburn than anything.