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Monday, January 10, 2011

Just had a feeling... January 8, 2011

It was a tough week leading up to this hunt. I scouted one evening and found a phenomenal field just absolutely polluted with birds, it was holding both ducks and geese. That was the good part. The bad part was that after researching who the landowner was, and finding out where they lived, I was never able to get in front of them in order gain written permission to hunt the place. I returned another evening and saw 2 other hunters waiting on the birds' evening flight. No doubt they had a great hunt. Then work travels took over and my scouting was over for the week. With no other plan in place, and a good buddy driving down from Toledo to hunt again, I just had a feeling that the "X" field could turn on again.

Timber with the last goose of the morning

Weather Conditions: Cold. Really, really friggin' cold. Morning lows were in the single digits, and that's without the wind chill factor figured in. Highs for the day were only listed in the upper teens, again that's without the wind chill calculated in there. Winds however, are a good thing when you're hunting waterfowl. Especially when they're steady. Winds for the day were out of the WNW, holding steady between 10 to 15 mph with some gusts over 20 mph. Light snow and overcast skies. Sunrise was listed for 7:57am, which translated into legal shooting light coming in at 7:27am for the particular county we were hunting. 

We all met up at the usual meeting spot that morning, hopped out of the trucks, talked about the set up for the day, and then headed up the road. With the ground frozen just as hard as the blacktop road we just drove in on, we pulled the trucks through the gate, closed it behind us, and then eased out through the field. With some quick work the four of us had the blinds set up with snow covers fitted, then we added a slight amount of corn stubble to help blend into the surroundings, the decoys unloaded and positioned in a formation that we hoped the geese would approve of. Soon the thermos lid was being unscrewed, and the first cup of coffee that morning was poured while we waited for the birds.

The morning moved by slowly, with the bird movement matching. We had a few groups here, and a few groups there, but those that were flying seemed to do so without any specific destination in mind. Getting them to give us a look wasn't an issue, but getting them to finish in the hole completely was. With a few missed opportunities, and a couple birds on the ground, we decided to make some changes to the spread. We moved from one large feeding mob, to several smaller family groups, still maintaining the landing zone where we wanted the birds to finish, but breaking up the spread to put something different out there for examination.

Quite frankly it was the best move that we made, and I'm glad that I suggested it (insert sarcasm here). After brooming off some of the snow that collected on the backs of the decoys, and re-positioning the family groups in precisely the exact configuration needed, the geese all decided to leave the roost. And they literally did so, all at the exact same time. Just minutes after the snow cover ceased, the clouds were beginning to break up and the skies provided some bright blue patches to contrast the remaining gray clouds. The sun's rays beamed through the holes in the cover like something you see on a postcard, and masses of geese did their best to blacken the sky. In merely an instant, just that quickly, we were done with another 4 man limit.

Some wind burned faces right there! L to R: Timber, Mike, Eric, Ross, and Sean

And that's how it happens sometimes. All the best laid out plans just don't quite come together. You put in the time, effort, and energy but what you had hoped to gain access to is never provided. So then, you go with your gut, along with what experience has taught you over the past few seasons of hunting and scouting a specific area, and you hope to just have a little luck come into play. Wait for the conditions to be right, and go for it. Besides, you'll never know what's possible if you don't leave the couch.

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