Sunday, November 22, 2009

Maryland Goose Opener 2009

View from the pit - geese eat fresh greens when it's warm outside
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Opening day was not as big of a bust as predicted, but it was a challenging day to hunt. I hunted geese in a field of green barley at the duck club I joined near "Goose Ground Zero", just northwest of Chestertown, Maryland. The club members had a big feast the night before, which I missed, and I arrived at the farm around 12:45am. Now, the farm has three residences: The Big House (off limits to club members), the Tenant House (club members by invitation), and The Lodge (an old beach house with power, heat, but no running water). After last week's hybrid hurricane / nor'easter, the fields, forests, and marshes were all sopping wet. The sandy spit access to The Lodge was probably underwater totally - access only by boat. I parked up at the barns....nobody around..... and walked over to the Tenant House.....saw the sign for "bunk assignments," and there was my name, and "Lodge." I couldn't get a cell signal, and I knew better than to try to drive my new truck on an underwater sandbar, so I spent the night in my new truck for the first time! It was a little chilly (39F / 4C) to sleep in the bed, so I kicked it in the Crew Cab. Let me just say that sleeping in the 2010 Tacoma far surpasses sleeping in the 1996 Tacoma!!! I felt totally fine, except for my left foot, which I guess I had crammed underneath the brake pedal for about 2 hours of sleep time. Ow.
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I set my alarm for 4:45am (shooting light was roughly 6:30am), and I knew that my comrades would have to show up at the barns to pick up decoys for the morning hunt. Right on cue, ATV's started arriving up from the Lodge around 5:10am, and the Tenant House emptied out.
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Due to the warm weather (predicted weather was clear, windless, and 55F), everyone wanted to hunt out on the water, since the geese would be unlikely to be aggressively feeding in the fields. I didn't really want to deal with all that drama, so myself and two other guys decided to hunt in a concrete pit in the farthest field from the river.

First retrieve of the season!

We were set up and just BS'ing when legal shooting time passed. This moment, in this part of the world (shooting light on the opening day, which is always a saturday), every year, is usually a good replication of the invasion of Normandy. However, only a few volleys were fired, and quite a distance from where we were. Throughout the whole area, shooting was very light all morning. I was politely informed by my 2 new hunting pals that neither one of them can call geese. Anyone who knows me, and can call geese themselves, also know that I cannot call geese. However, I had both of my goose calls, so I called the geese. In fact, I did all the calling, and only shot one round all morning, at a goose going away (it died of fright).

Wrap it up!
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I am still having a lot of trouble with the short reed goose call (I am currently using a Primos Honky Tonk but I'm switching to either an RNT Goozilla or a Foiles Meat Grinder, both of which sell for under $50 - sorry...no $150 goose calls for me. In the meantime, I had to go with what I know, which these days is a Ward Game Calls Persimmon Goose Flute. It has a very round sound which was "good enough" for opening day, but will either need to be improved (my skill) or upgraded (the call) by the time late season starts, roughly December 15th.
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We ended up harvesting 3 birds of a possible 6 bird limit, and we didn't feel bad about it. Had my calling been better, or the other guys' shooting been better, we probably would have left with 5. Maybe next time! It was really neat to call instead of shoot. A very different kind of stress. I enjoyed it, and wonder if I'll get the opportunity to call for other folks again.
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Waterfowl season is definitely not off to a "bang," but with good company in the goose pit, and some birds on the smoker for Thanksgiving, it's all good.

1 comment:

{nUtTyPrOfFeSsOr} said...

Good puppy- bring back the birds to the people with boom stix