Another beautiful winter morning on Maryland's Eastern Shore
Some friends of my hunting buddy had gotten me onto a new goose field near home, so to repay the favor, I had them out to "the farm." Expectations were mixed but one of the guys had never hunted in a goose pit before, so that was exciting for him. We were set up on time, although not quite in time to deal with the ducks that circled over the spread right after legal shooting time! Another group of guys was also up at the farm, and confessed that they almost cancelled the hunt because of the full moon. Despite my last few hunts here, the weather (falling barometer and snow on the way) had me a little optimistic. The temperature was up (upper 20s) from where it had been the week before (mid-teens), so we were able to lay out a spread of about 5 dozen silhouette decoys and 5 dozen full body decoys. Unlike my last hunt here, this time we heard - really heard - the geese roosting in the nearby creek. At least a thousand of them. It was exciting!
Around 845am, the geese started leaving the roost to feed. When the first few big flocks flew up the creek without giving us a look, we weren't concerned. Then around 930am, they all started heading directly out of the creek's mouth and flying upstream.
Those geese are less than 25 feet off the road. Why is that a problem for hunters (besides the fact that hunting here would be a safety zone violation)? I'll tell you why - geese feed near roadways as a predator-prey response to getting hammered by hunters in the middle of fields. They somehow learn that hunters rarely test the "legal safety zone" of 150 or 250 yards (dep. on your state law). Under typical conditions, geese would rather feed in the middle of the fields, because they can see predators coming from a long distance. So this tells us that an area is effectively "burned out" for hunting - the geese have figured out what is safe and what is not.
As a result, I kind of doubt that I'll return to "the farm" over the last 10 days of waterfowl season. This has made me think a little bit about being more creative with my opportunities there (there are 3 blinds and 2 pits on 300 acres). I'm going to do some thinking about what I can do differently there.
I've got a few more hunts lined up for the season. It has neither been the worst or the most memorable season so far....and I'm strangely okay with that.