What’s good for the goose hunter

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By Shelton Young

First, I need to tell you all about the Delta Waterfowl Banquet coming up at 5 p.m. Saturday. in Floral Hall at the Marion County Fairgrounds. The meal will be at 6:30 p.m., which will give you plenty of time to play the games, buy some raffle tickets and bid on some items.
You’ll also meet some outstanding guys and maybe hear some interesting stories, some of which might be true. Ya don’t think the only tall tales are told by anglers do ya?
The cost is $20 for a single meal and $35 for a couple, for 12 and under it’s $15. You can add a one year Delta Waterfowl membership, which includes the magazine, for another $30. The magazine subscription alone is worth the $30!
Do yourself and Delta Waterfowl a favor and plan to attend this event!
What do ya do when most all the hunting seasons have ended and it’s still too cold to fish because the water is still frozen?
The only answer, ROAD TRIP! That’s exactly what Terry Davis, Ryan Mattingly, Billy Thompson and I did Feb. 9-12 when we headed to Jonesboro, Ark., to hunt snow geese during their spring conservation season.
Upon arrival our guide wasn’t there. After an hour or so we finally got him to answer a text. He’d moved his operation “about 30 minutes south” and forgot to call and tell us!
We loaded back up and headed south. The “30 minutes” turned out to be more than an hour and I started getting that bad feeling!
After we’d gotten our rooms in Brinkley, Ark., our guide called and said he’d have a guide come by later. And oh, the rates were now $185 per day, up from the $150 per day he’d quoted over the phone! The “bad” feeling shifted to a “mad” feeling!
The other guide never came by, but we did get a call at 11:30 p.m. telling us to meet outside the hotel at 5 a.m. We grumbled, but agreed to the hunt. Ya don’t just drive 450 miles, turn around and come back!
At 5 a.m. a smiling young man met us, introduced himself as Pete Brockman, our guide, representing Skies Outfitter Service. He was to take our $195 each then we could go hunting. Whoa! What happened to the owner, Rob, and how come the cost had gone up again? Pete was confused, but professional, as he explained that Rob was hired by Northern Skies, but Matt Schauer owned the outfit. Rob was just another guide.
Poor guy was caught in the middle of a bad situation. He called Matt and it was decided he’d take $185 for the day, but maybe we could work something out. Matt came by that evening and we got to see how a real professional owner/guide works. He honored the $150 per day agreement, even though he didn’t make it, and apologized for all the confusion.
Here was a guy, who owed us nothing, normally getting $195 per day per hunter, honoring an agreement he hadn’t made!
It’s no wonder he has such an outstanding operation and reputation. So, if you’re considering a snow goose hunting trip I highly recommend Northern Skies Outfitter Service. You can visit them online at northernskiesoutfitters.com.
As for our hunt, Pete took us to a field he’d scouted and we settled in amongst thousands of wind-sock decoys, several “squawk boxes” and some cyclone rotary decoy machines. About as quick as we got settled, in came the geese. We dropped some and repeated this off and on all day.
When the smoke cleared we had 43 snow geese for the day.
Pete did a great job and made adjustments to our setup all day. This kept the geese coming in on a regular basis. Pete had a great personality, knew his craft and talked goose hunting with us all day. He also gave me a four-wheeler ride to and from the blind. Just hope we get to hunt with him again next year.
The second day Will (didn’t get a last name) took us about 25 miles south. When we got in the blinds we were treated to a sight. In a field about a half-mile away was a mob of snows about 60,000 birds strong. It looked as if they covered six or seven acres of wheat stubble. Never have I seen that many of anything in one place.
Needless to say, several thousand decoys didn’t have the drawing appeal of the real birds. Will tried every trick he knew to bring the birds to us and we managed 10 or so. Again, I got a ride to and from the blind!
Since we can request guides for next year we decided Will and Pete would be our top choices.
So how was the weather? Bitter cold and high winds were pushing the chill factor to around zero. We lost all feeling in our feet and hands due to the cold. At one point, when birds were coming in, my hands were so cold I couldn’t operate the safety on my shotgun. Fingers simply would not work!
If we were so cold and miserable, why would we even bother going?
Well, that’s simple. We got to shoot geese!
Guess that’s about it for now. Get out, enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, stay safe and I’ll see ya next week!