Monday, December 03, 2007

Got Geese.

The hardest part was the drive.

I woke up at my usual time for the drive to Canoga—430, which usually gives me plenty of time to shuffle around in the cold, dark house, sleepily fumbling for gear and then have a lazy cup of coffee back in bed before hitting the road. This morning, I parted the curtains to find a wall of swirling white: snowing and blowing hard, and 37 miles to the rendezvous. Yikes!!!

It was bad. Nothing had been plowed—my Ithaca property tax dollars hard at work as usual. I normally make the whole drive in 45 minutes, but after that amount of time I still was only as far as Taughannock Park, 10 miles north of town. Left a message for Keith telling him to head to the field, and kept ‘er in 4WD low. The wind was out of the SE, and near Varick, where the road runs next to the lake, there were drifts better measured in feet than inches. I pushed on, driven by thoughts of the epic hedgerow hunt a few years ago. Could this be another one of those days? After a couple of hours of this nonsense, it was a great relief to find and follow the already drifted over tracks of the boys along Hoester’s hedgerow. Dekes already spread, layout blinds at the ready: because, perhaps, of my Ithaca residence, I drew the blind on the far left wing.

This was another of those days. Things started slowly enough—a couple of singles that worked the spread perfectly and fell to Zack’s gun and mine. Zach, bless his heart, asked “Captain Mike,” in charge of calling the shots on our side, whether it was okay to shoot the goose wandering around in the spread (Mike never saw it come in). And then the birds started to fly like wild--doubles, groups of 10, bigger flocks—they all worked us hard. Birds on the ground. The spread was perfect. Or who knows, because it was crappy out and the geese had been there yesterday, we probably could have had a half dozen shells tossed haphazardly about (probably even upside down) with us standing there in blue barncoats drinking coffee, and they might have still come. I don’t think there is a finer, more moving sight in all outdoors than geese dropping out of the sky, out of the grey, ghosting out of the wind, rain, and snow, with wings cupped and feet down.

Zach and I, on the left, were worked particularly hard. When this pattern became obvious, I inquired whether any of the right-wingers wanted to rotate blinds. No. No? Just keep shooting? Really? Okay. And so the morning went, cuddled in the popup blinds, watching geese, and all of us shooting well, because we were so relaxed. We had to keep careful recounting of the dead geese to make sure we weren’t over our limit. Finally, we determined we needed just 2 more. A pair came in, low, on my left. O’Conner shouted “take ‘em both!” I held on the front bird, fired a single shot, and both fell out of the sky. I held each to the sky and shouted to the wind and snow “I AM….HUNTER!!!”

Days like this don’t happen very often.


KGT said...

Well told we have to wait for picture developing to see the photos?

Vicar(ious) said...

ahyup. I'll try to burn the rest of the roll when Pete comes.