Hunting: Thick fog is no match for persistence, preparation and skill.
WATERFOWLING is a passion we've indulged for well over a half-century and still haven't had our fill of. Much of this is because it seems almost every hunt has different situations and conditions that make it notable and sometimes quite memorable.
One of these was the first time my longtime hunting buddy Brad Conner from Portsmouth and I were trying out a new technique to us. We were going to set a goose decoy rig in a cut cornfield adjacent to the shoreline of Great Bay, using no floater-style decoys but rather silhouette decoys that had worked for us on prior dry-land hunts.
We had scouted this cornfield a few days before and the telltale goose droppings and some goose feathers provided some evidence that birds had used this field previously.
There was no real cover to hide in and we didn't have any portable blinds at that time so we figured that a farm tractor left on the edge of the field would provide good cover for us if we stood still when the geese decided to drop into the party table we'd set.
And then out of nowhere the thickest fog imaginable moved in on us, cutting our visibility to about 50 yards on the ground and less than that looking up. We considered just picking up our dekes and calling it a morning when we heard the distant calling of a flock of geese.
"Hey, what the heck! Get out our goose calls and let's just call like crazy. We've got nothing to lose," I whispered in my best coarse voice.
The Dickster and Brad blow different types of goose calls. My favorite is a Shawn Man Eastern Shoreman flute-style call that is a prize possession, given to me for a favor we'd done for Tink, Chip and Skip at Tink's Trading Post in Rochester. Signed by all of them and Shawn, it has always been my go-to call.
Brad likes to call with a wooden honker/style call and between them we can just about mimic any call a real goose can make.
So we felt we had only one chance at those geese with no visibility so we just blew our lungs out and darned if they didn't turn our way, their calls becoming louder and louder.
"OK, let's back off a bit and start to call more realistically," I growled to Brad. By now we could hear the swish, swish, swish of their wing beats and the adrenaline rush was causing me to kind of lose my breath.
Then, out of nowhere with feet down and wings set, those geese dropped right into our meager decoy set and still while on the wing (no kidding!) we both dropped a big honker, which at this time in our goose hunting careers, was almost like hitting the jackpot!
There was a lot of back-slapping and celebrating going on in that muddy and slippery corn field as we collected our trophy birds.
Now fast forward about 40 years. My friend Joe Kenneck and I were hunting geese in a cut grain field where I had hunted many times before and had some luck almost every time. We had scouted this field the day before and found a flock of Canadas were feeding there on the spilt grain. It looked like a winner.
We set a nice bunch of full body Canada goose decoys, which we had put together over a period of years. Hiding behind a homemade stake-blind that was just a few grade-stakes surrounded by some tan colored burlap, we waited patiently for the sun to come up and the geese to fly.
But instead we were soon surrounded by a very thick blanket of fog.
"Should we quit and try to move or just give it up and go for breakfast?" Joe whispered.
"No way Joe! If we can hear some geese flying around and get on our horns quickly, there's a good chance that we can pull a few in and that would surely make our day,"I said.
Knowing that geese had definitely been using this field gave both of us some support in staying the course. And not long after our conversation, we were rewarded with the sounds of goose music in the air. It seemed like a huge flock!
Both of us blowing hard on our calls, and seemingly having the flock make a circle or two around us, two geese just dropped out of the fog and almost touched the ground when we both picked out the bird on our sides and both of them hit the deck after a one-shot volley from both of us.
There was quite a bit of back-slapping and congratulations when we heard other geese on the wing, but blow as we might on our calls we couldn't convince them to drop in for our party. But that was OK! We'd met adversity and came out ahead. And the mystical experience of having those two geese just drop in on us out of that fog bank has been permanently branded into our memory banks.
"We came, we saw, we kicked their butts Goosebusters kind of feeling!"And Joe and the Dickster had a couple of memorable feeds of goose breasts wrapped with bacon done on the grill medium rare for two nights in a row! It don't get no better than that!
Most waterfowlers know how important Ducks Unlimited has been to the support of our continent's waterfowl populations. It's time to give them some support and it's fun to do it. Check out the Rockingham County Annual DU Banquet this coming Saturday at Sawyer's Banquet Facility, 180 Plaistow Road (Route 125) in Plaistow. Call Rich Magie at 714-5053 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets or information.
Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.