Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Canada geese hunting provides great moments
By DICK PINNEY
Canadian geese (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER FILE PHOTO)
IT'S BEEN a long time since the Dickster has crouched in the dew-wet early-morning tall grass waiting for the distant calls of Canada geese waking up on their overnight resting waters.
These calls, even though we've heard them for some six decades, still send shivers down our backbone! After all, these birds have taken over a huge part of my annual hunting and fishing concentrations. As many years as we've hunted them, the thrills of having geese respond to my calls, and seeing them set their wings and parachute-like drop into our set of decoys is such a captivating experience that this old fool just cannot avoid the excitement that hunting over decoys brings.
With the early season goose hunt in progress, we know it won't be too long before we're out after them, enjoying the fun and memories that come to us when we open up the door of our hunting camp in northern Aroostook County, Maine. The hunt still has that incredible effect on us.
It's easy to let my mind wander back to a very memorable day when the Tomcat (Tom Connors, my lifetime hunting buddy) and I shot our first honkers. We were hunting a kind of makeshift blind on the shore of a major Great Bay tributary that an adult, experienced hunter Albert Sanford, had kind of tricked us into putting together for "us" to hunt. Us meaning he'd have a nice blind to hunt from and have to occasionally put up with two young teenagers.
In anticipating some duck and goose hunting weather, the Dickster had spent the night at Tom's house, where we'd have the use of his dad's vehicle to use the next day to get out to our blind.
We were right on, making that decision as that morning we awoke to a mixture of rain, snow and sleet, slippery enough that we didn't take the chance of driving Tom's dad's Ford sedan down through a long field to the blind.
It was nasty enough that both of us slid and fell a couple of times and had to take the time to not only shake the snow off us but clear our shotguns for any snow that may have got packed into the gun's barrels.
At the blind, we set out a very meager half-dozen tin Canada goose silhouette decoys that Albert had found at some yard sale. But they looked pretty good positioned in the short grass behind the blind. And they sure stuck out with the snow background.
We had no floating goose decoys at that time but we did have about a dozen black duck decoys that we rigged onto one line and, because of the current, were able to coax out into mid-stream, well within the range of our shotguns. (Mine was a double-barreled 20-gauge loaded with light number six shot!) while Tom had a much more effective 12-gauge double that he had loaded with real time waterfowl loads.
Because of the weather, the birds were flying and we both took pokes at a couple of small flocks of ducks that came overhead but never decoyed. But then our luck took a turn for the better! A small bunch of geese took a liking to our pitiful silhouette fakes and flew right in over the blind, providing great shooting opportunities. Tom dumped one with one shot while the Dickster pounded one twice with those too-light-to kill 20-gauge loads. Thank goodness that Tom had one round still in his gun as he finished off the pretty well wounded goose that I'd targeted.
These were the first two geese we had ever taken over decoys. And after I slipped and slid while chasing my wounded bird across the slippery snow, finally anchoring it with a lucky shot to the head, we joined in a serious celebration of "Yahoos and Yippees!" We shot them fair and square, not sneaking through the tall grass and swatting them while they were feeding.
It was like we had just won the sweepstakes! Tomcat hot-footed back across the field and drove his dad's sedan almost right up to the blind.
We carefully put the two geese into the car's trunk and made sure that we'd not foul it up with goose blood. Then we headed for town (Portsmouth and Kittery) to show off our geese to several of our adult mentors.
One of those mantors is still very much in my mind - Babe Webber at Webber's Gun Shop - along with Bing Adams at Kittery Trading Post. They were both impressed with our good luck as, back then, shooting a Canada goose was akin to shooting a nice deer!
Fast-forward about 65 years. That's right - sixty-five years. Tomcat and the Dickster still hunt waterfowl, but seldom get a chance to get together now that he's moved to the West Coast. And, athough the Dickster isn't quite as avid as I was then, when conditions allow we still can be found in a set of waders along some waterfowl marsh or hunched over in an open boat out on the ocean shooting sea ducks: eiders, scoters and old squaws that are numb as a pounded thumb and will decoy right into range of an open and non-camouflaged skiff.
It seems that what goes around often comes around. Get out there and get you some and please stay in touch.
Dick Pinney 's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.