Yesterday marked the final day of the central zone “waterfowl” season. While the duck portion closed in November, you could still hunt Canada geese through yesterday. We couldn’t just let it come and go without trying to trick a few of those big, black-footed birds into range.
The fact that we were successful isn’t the story. It’s how we did it that matters.
Friday morning began with plans to trek out onto Lac qui Parle and set up camp for walleye, crappie and big bluegills. Rods were prepped, bait was bought and shelters were readied. Around 2pm the remaining geese on the refuge took flight for the afternoon feed. There weren’t many geese left, but the few that were flew right over the Watson Hunting Camp, our base of operations.
There’s one pit along the driveway at the WHC and it’s location has always kept it from getting used. The uncertainty of what field the geese would choose, combined with the wariness of them wanting to land near a well-worn path,(like a driveway), always had us going elsewhere. It was really more of an afterthought even if we felt that a late season opportunity with a lot of snow on the ground might do the trick.
It did. But the location was only part of the story.
Friday afternoon saw us scramble through the yard with a dozen decoys under the outgoing flocks. 3 guys, one call and one brightly colored snowmobile jacket. We set up a little late as most of the geese made it out to feed before we were ready. Early in the year, geese will usually feed twice per day-once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. During the colder months, that might drop to once per day, usually in the afternoon when it warms up. After they’re good and full of small grains, like corn, they get up and fly back to the water to drink and rest. We were hoping for a quick feed, and then to convince them that they were still hungry enough to stop for a snack on the way back to the water.
We did. That’s like talking someone into a stop at Subway on the way home from Manny’s Steakhouse.
That planted the seed for Saturday. While fishing and pheasant hunting were on the mind, we decided that we’d set up our big spread and see how the last day would go. We also decided to let all the dogs come with, so we sat 4 across in the pit with 4 squirming labs in between.
Finally around 2pm the geese got hungry and left the cozy confines of the freezing water. (Now I know why people use goose down in jackets.) A couple of geese were fooled as they headed out, but once again we had more success with geese that were headed back to the water.
One gun that made it’s way into the firing line, was a 100-year-old Winchester Model 12 owned by my grandpa. It’s always cool to see the old classics back in action. It had been passed down to my brother (and not me!) and he brought it along on the goose hunt. Our grandpa was an avid waterfowler, but he never shot a goose. They weren’t prevalent enough in his day, but he always talked about wanting to shoot one. While he didn’t get the chance, his ol’ Model 12 did a fine job on an incoming Canada at about 5 yards, tumbling that goose backwards and leaving no doubt that grandpa was taking out some pent-up goose-hunting energy.
A great way to end the goose season-or is it? Of course the southern zone is still open for another week (12/28) and that’s only about 15 minutes away for us…maybe we can find another classic scattergun and driveway to convince some more geese to fatten up before winter.