Saturday, January 24, 2009

The (Coldest) Hunt of Lifetime!

At $350 per dozen, full-bodied goose decoys with flocked heads are the industry standard for dry forage areas with moderate hunting pressure. "Convicing" spreads range from 3 dozen to 10 dozen.
.
With waterfowl season winding down and hunting opportunities trickling down into the single digits, it's definitely time to get serious. Tug, I, and our buddy Rich cancelled a duck hunt due to weather (5 degree air, 30+ mph winds), and planned for another hunt just 24 hours later. With polar high pressure setting in, dawn air temperatures were between -5 and 0 degrees farenheit, we were not getting a lot of help from the weather, but the wind had laid down to around 5-10mph as some sort of consolation prize. Cloud cover had increased, which would help our cause, but we were concerned that the combination of dangerously low temperatures and highly-educated geese might make for an uncomfortable and unproductive hunt.


Rich returns to the decoy spread with a goose that had been shot but "sailed" for a hundred yards until falling dead in the far corner of the field
.
We arrived just before dawn, knowing that the geese would probably not fly until late in the morning. The three of us worked deliberately (but kept it slow enough to prevent sweating) to get everything set up so we could hunker down in our layout blinds and try to remain semi-warm. We joked about hoping to limit out in a single flock, and generally kept very still....thermometer still reading 1 degree below zero.
.
Geese did not begin flying until around 11:45am and boy, were they wary. Many were clearly stressed and tired, and some were missing feathers from being shot at previously. Around 1:30pm, we killed our first goose. Our work and our luck was slow but steady after that, and by 4:00pm, we had scratched out 5 geese, 1 short of our total limit (I only shot one on this hunt).

Calling at groups of geese in the air behind our setup

Thoroughly wind-burnt and frozen, we hastily picked up our decoys and blinds and headed home to meet my wife, the indomitable Sadie Priss, a few more friends, and some nice hot Andy Nelson's Alabama Style Barbeque. Tug headed home the next day, and I still wished that we could have hunted for some ducks, and had my friends Robert & Alex up for that adventure, but given the frozen marshes and extreme conditions, we had as positive an outcome as we could have possibly expected. A few days of down time and two tough, but good, goose hunts ....hey, I'll take it. Only one more hunt remains before the end of the season....the birds are only getting smarter, and the weather's not getting any warmer. This could be interesting!

My single goose for the day


Tug's bag limit for the day

7 comments:

tugboatdude said...

That one with the broken wing was a pleasure to clean.It was so full of shot I thought it had some sickness going on.Damn good times,I had a blast and can't wait until next year.

Swamp Thing said...

I think our experiment proved that our money and time are better spent building friendships in the offseason, than paying some guide the week before a hunt.

The season was not at all what I thought it'd be, but it was memorable and pretty positive. Can't complain!

J. said...

AWESOME BLOG!!! I am glad to have found another local outdoors blog. There are several Maryland and Mid Atlantic arts & crafts and food blogs but yours is the first I have seen that is related to outdoor sports. I was starting to feel outnumbered. We gotta stick together and watch each other's backs. (LOL) Thanks for the follow. I look forward to doing the same and reading more.

oldfatslow said...

Congratulations on the
geese.

I'm not sure I'd want
to hunt when it's quite
that cold, but hunt after
hunt this year in central
Florida was blue bird days
in the 70s.

ofs

Live to Hunt.... said...

Now that is some serious cold! I don't know how you guys can lay still in those blinds for hours with the temp so low. Good on ya!

Swamp Thing said...

Well, you gotta take what's given to ya. We are duck hunters by passion....but when God give you lemons, go goose hunting.

CountryDreaming said...

Congratulations on a good hunt on such a brisk day. While I love live Canada Geese and photos of them (including yours, which are commendable for their dimensionality), I'm also in favor of thinning out groups of overpopulated birds, especially when they can be used for food or feathers. Must be the tiny bit of Native American blood in me.