|Northern Kent County, Maryland - 14 hours before|
goose season begins
So, like a fool, I drove down to the farm that I lease on Maryland's eastern shore. It's not just for the hunting. Each year, the farm owner puts on a big opening night dinner for us, filled with local meat and oysters, good cigars, and better whiskey. I try to attend every year because 1) I'm always looking for new people to hunt with, and I only know a few other "farm members" very well (this goal has been pretty successful); and 2) many of the other guys are wealthier than me, and thus have a ton of hunting opportunities I'd love for them to share with me (this goal has not been successful). Last year, I made fun of two guys who came for the dinner and didn't stay the night to hunt on opening day. Oops.
The geese and the ducks just aren't here yet. The weather's been consistently in the 60s and 70s and nothing's doing. But I recruited two hunters I knew, and two new "farm members" who happen to be young and fired up, and we concocted a plan to get on the water early (unlike last year's opening day) and at least scratch out a few local ducks. We succeeded.
Unlike past years, we were sober when we hit the bunks around midnight, with a 4:30am wakeup call looming. We somehow made it into the boat (up the shoreline, 2 miles across the farm) by 5:00am, and preparations began. We were all shocked again when we finished laying out decoys by 5:45am - a full 35 minutes before legal shooting time! While we would have loved a cold, snowy morning, it was obvious that a bright blue, warm sunny day was just awhile away.
Unfortunately, the geese knew the forecast too, and we lost our pitiful 300 or so roosters to nearby mowed waterfront lawns and green cover crops by about 6:10am. We didn't hear any ducks calling, but we certainly heard them moving. Or at least we thought they were ducks.
|Everybody do the coot scoot!|
|My bird for the day - he should have been 200 miles south|
And with that, it was all over. No more ducks all morning. No geese anywhere in the zip code. Just done. I could pretty much copy the same statement about warm weather, no ducks, no geese, etc.
But with that, it's okay to leave you with another analogy. One of those about "a bad day hunting" and a "good day working" or "you can't kill 'em from the couch/bed/house/RV etc." Regardless, we got out, we got after them, and we even killed a few. It was a lot of effort for a few birds, but that's what I've come to expect on the opening day of "November Goose" season. Maybe next year if it's going to be warm and sunny, I'll go for the dinner and sleep through the hunt. Because whether the geese like it or not, colder days are coming in just a few weeks.......and then I'll need a few days off from work and family duty for sure.
|Chain drive duck boat. Gotta love it.|