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No ducks, no geese in our field

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By Shelton Young

 

 

The opening of our waterfowl season called for a change of plans this year. The field was so wet that taking the ATVs back to the Quack Shack would’ve cut it to pieces. Nothing gets you on the bad side of a landowner like cutting ruts in his fields.
Well, leaving his gates open does it too!
Anyway, the option was to carry everything to the shack, through knee-deep mud! This had little appeal because we hadn’t seen ducks and it seemed like a lot of work.
With the Quack Shack out of contention, Mark Whitehouse suggested a field hunt for geese. This sounded fine but what about breakfast? Considering everything, we reached a compromise. First, we’d meet at Mark’s for breakfast to keep the tradition alive, then we’d set up for geese.
Mark, Jason, John O and I set a nice decoy spread, hunkered in our layout blinds and experienced nothing!
No geese, no ducks, nothing! Well, there were several hundred doves, but we were not shooting doves. Why not? For starters, we only had Black Cloud steel with us, so shooting shells at over a $1 a pop wasn’t practical. Besides, have you ever seen what 1.5-ounce steel BB shots do to a dove? Let’s just say you don’t have to clean them!
As we took the spread down, we planned Friday’s hunt. We’d meet up and put the sneak on a pond some Canadas had been using.
Early on Friday, we headed to the pond. We arrived, studied the wind and planned our assault. Two to the dam, one down a fencerow and one down a ditch.
Everything went as planned. In stealth mode, we approached our objective. No alarm honks, no wing beats, we were doing good. Over the dam popped Mark and Jason, John stepped out of the brushy fencerow and I came  up out of the ditch. We were alert, we were ready and we found... nothing!
We found goose feathers, goose prints in the mud and goose droppings. As our luck often goes, we were where they HAD been and not where they were.
To add to our misery, at the Dickens Christmas event, a guy asked me “ya seen all them geese at...?” Sorry, I forgot where he said he’d seen them.
Then on Saturday, while I was out of town, Mark called me. “Guess what’s in our corn field?” From his tone, I didn’t really have to guess, “geese.” ... six or seven dozen.
It’s really pretty simple. Geese will routinely fly 50 or more miles, one way to feed. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of fields for them to feed in. So, the odds of finding the “right” field and getting permission to hunt it are kind of slim.
My excuse was so logical, I almost believed it myself.
But, we have 60+ days to hunt waterfowl and we’ll eventually be set up where they want to be.

--Once Thanksgiving passed, I got my Christmas on! Dickens downtown, Christmas CDs and purchasing gifts.
So far, there’s a new “duck blind,” camo parka, flocked decoy heads and a couple of bags to store/carry goose decoys in on order.
That’s for me! Now, I’ve got to figure out something for the family and friends.
Socks and sock liners are always good. And, as any veteran will tell you, changing socks often helps keep feet healthy. So, you never have too many pairs.
Other “every day” stuff you never have enough of are flashlights and batteries. They’re never where you left them the last time.
Also, knives are a good choice, the ones that fold and sheaf styles. Get ones with good steel, Gerber and Buck brands come to mind. Diamond and stones for sharpening the blades are a must. Folding saws have many uses and a hard-to-beat item is the multi-tool. I’m thinking Leatherman and Gerber styles.
Something to keep your feet warmer has been discussed. So, how about your hands? Well, gloves of course! What does your guy/gal do?
It might seem odd, but get them two pair-one pair of heavy gloves and one thin. It may seem strange but I use both at the same time. The thick one will be on my left hand to hold the forestock of my shotgun and the thin on my right to feel/operate the trigger.
To help gloves keep hands warm, consider handwarmers. You’ve seen the orange, disposable, chemical handwarmers. But, to be honest, I personally don’t think they’re that warm and they don’t last very long.
Instead, get your outdoorsman/woman one, or two of the metal handwarmers that use lighter fluid as fuel. They really do put out the heat. The new ones are slim and lightweight, plus reusable.
At less than $20 each, they’re worth hundreds in a duck blind, working outside and fishing.
I hope to have some ideas as we get nearer to Christmas.
That’s it for now. Get out and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. Stay safe and I’ll see ya next week.