Season brings out honesty, geese

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By Shelton Young

An unexpected development in this holiday season is the honesty it’s brought out in the big oil companies.
Unlike in the past when gas prices were tied to natural disasters, which always happened over a holiday season, this year, no excuses were made that I’ve heard about.
Gas prices were jacked up because: it’s a big travel season; and the oil companies can do it and theres nothing we can do to stop it!
So, happy holidays!
The recent cold front moved a bunch of birds out our way. One day there was almost nothing, then, we had birds.
A couple of long-time waterfowlers, Ryan Mattingly and Terry Davis, invited me to a morning hunt. Terry is actually responsible for leading me astray into the world of waterfowling.
Anyway, at the wife’s insistence, I met Terry and Ryan on a cold, crisp morning with just light for us to see our breath.
A drive back to the frozen pond, deployment of a few dozen decoys and we were ready.
But, right between the gettin’ ready and bein’ ready, we were buzzed by ducks coming in. They circled, in a range and the call to “take ‘em” was given.
Eight shots were fired, they had three shot autos and I had an over/under. Eight shots and nothing fell. However, I’m pretty sure we scared one of them pretty bad.
Back to setting decoys and then, Terry and Ryan froze. My back was to the pond, so I had no idea what they’d seen, but I froze anyway. No sense messing up whatever they had.
“Take ‘em” was called and they both fired. There I was, no gun, no idea what they’d shot at. I heard a thump as I turned around and saw Ryan’s duck hit the pond’s frozen surface. Terry hollered, “Mine fell in the weeds.”
“This is going to be a good day” was our common thought. But there was a problem, actually a couple of problems. All we had with us were goose loads. Didn’t expect ducks and everybody forgot to bring duck or goose calls.
Talk about highly organized!
After lying on frozen ground for a while and losing all sensation in my hands, I was sort of relieved when the discussion to call it a day started.
“It’s 10:15 and no birds, time to go,” works for me.
We took up all the decoys and were standing around waiting for Ryan to get back with the truck, when I saw a “smudge” on the horizon. “Aw, Terry... aren’t those geese”?
Closer and closer they came as Terry dove for his shotgun. Mine was already in its case and, besides, I no longer dive!
Terry got off one shot but nothing stopped flying. Then, several hundred yards away, we saw another flight of geese, and another, and another!
No decoys, no goose calls, all we could do was watch as they flew past.
It was a good hunt.
I heard a story from the dark side of waterfowling! Seems, if the rumor is true, that some shooters (won’t call them hunters) were busted a week or so back while shooting over “one of the best duck ponds in the state.”
Of course, most anybody can have a pond of such exceptional quality in drawing ducks.
Here’s how it’s done:
1). Dig a pond/lake.
2). After it fills, build a nice comfortable blind.
3). Dump several truckloads of corn in the pond.
4). Wait for ducks.
The only problem with this formula is that #3 is very illegal. Even has a name... baiting. So illegal, in fact, that it isn’t just a state law, it’s a federal offense.
So, if you don’t have the ability to scout, set decoys, call or shoot, and have the connections/money to try and buy your way out of trouble, by all means bait your pond.
Just remember: don’t brag about how many ducks you shoot; be careful when you buy your corn; and above all, watch out for video cameras!
As a disclaimer: a rumor is a rumor until proven otherwise. I do not support baiting or any other illegal activity and violators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Coming up is possibly the most dangerous weekend of the year.
At Christmas, most people think of the birth of Christ, goodwill, gifts and quality of family time.
Then comes New Year’s and one thought... party! Unfortunately the party usually involves alcohol, often in large quantities, which can make you stupid!
If you’re 21 or older, it’s your choice whether you’ll drink or not and I support your right to make that decision. What I ask is that you not drive if you’ve been drinking. A night of fun with friends can lead to a mark against you that can impact the rest of your life.
So, go out, have fun. Be smart, safe and look forward to a great new year!
Guess that’s if for now. Get out and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. Stay safe and I’ll see ya next week... in 2011!