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~ A MOST SPECIAL HUNT ~ Mixed Bag


Irishwhistler

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Irishwhistler
Aye Mates,

I had conferred with three of the members of a goose hunting lease I am a member of on Tuesday and they had asked me to scout the field on Wednesday morning. I made the trip Wednesday and was there plenty early to watch the field unobtrusively and to make note of bird movements and usage. By 08:00 local birds had left their roost ponds and had started moving, many of them using the field I was watching. Most were landing to the far southern end of an agricultural field a parcel we had agreed with the owner not to hunt in order to keep local neighbors from complaining to him about early morning gunfire. That parcel is currently planted in alfalfa and the birds were drawn to it like a magnet with several hundred feeding in there by 09:00. I watched the movements of a distant American flag waving in the wind and noted its westward direction and that influence on bird movement. I also contemplated what that flag symbolized regarding our freedom and our privilege as outdoorsman and our 2nd amendment rights. My Honker recon accomplished, I reported back to the other members of the lease. Three of the five members of the lease told me they were not going to be able to hunt for the remainder of the week which was scheduled to close on Saturday, that being the last day of the first half of the open split season. It was decided that the two of that could hunt would do so and that we would bring two guests.

We had agreed to ask two our mutual friends and longtime gunning partners Bill and Henry. I called Bill first and he agreed to make the hunt planned for Thursday morning and to meet John to set up the decoy spread. Henry is now 81 and had been plagued with severe back pain for the last two years and had not hunted during that time period as a result. John, Bill, and myself all hoped that Henry would join us but we were truthfully less than optimistic that he would do so. I made the call to invite Henry, badgered him a bit and was overjoyed when he agreed to join us. The old lad is like a Dad to me and his two year lull had been a real low point for all of us love him and having him gunning alongside us. I told him I would pick him up at 04:30 on Thursday morning and drive him to the hunt and back home afterwards. I called John and Bill to tell them that Henry would be joining us for the hunt and they both were beyond happy with his decision to do so.

I picked up Henry on Thursday morning at his home and he was beaming with the excitement of a young lad going on his first hunt, that despite the many, many hunts he had experienced in the days prior to his current status as an octogenarian outdoorsman. It was incredibly heartwarming to listen to the thrill and anticipation expressed by Henry as we made the trip to meet John and Bill at the field, they having set a small early season spread of about three dozen Big Foot decoys prior to our arrival. I was able to drive Henry and his gear right out to the blind and left him with John, Bill, and ye retrievers TRAD and MAC while I relocated my truck to the far end of the alfalfa lot south of the blind we would be hunting out of. It was my hope that the truck left there might prevent birds from landing and piling up at that end of the lot, far beyond our reach.

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~ The Approach ~  My scouting of the field on Wednesday allowed me to make mental notes of the pattern of approach being taken by the birds and how to set up for Thursday's hunt. By 09:00 hours, there were several hundred geese feeding in the alfalfa south of our blind location and that might very well be problematic during out planned hunt. We would need to adapt accordingly and try to draw the birds into our decoy rig, our set made relative to the prevailing wind direction on Thursday.

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~ Making The Swing ~  I watched birds time and again on Wednesday as they circled overhead and banked hard into the west wind to make their way into the alfalfa lot that I was less than happy to see them drawn to.

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~ Committed ~  Their decision made, flaps cupped and feet down, flights of Honkers repeatedly made their descent to join the growing flock of Canada Geese feeding on the grasses and ignoring the corn lot where our blind was located two hundred yards to the north.  
We would have a tough time drawing birds on Thursday morning without a change in wind direction and might only hope to catch birds with some pass shooting as they came within range going to or leaving the grass lot they were happily feasting and resting in.


Our many years of experience combined, John having guided hunts in Maryland and elsewhere here in New England, myself having a mad passion for waterfowl hunting now spanning over 50 years and having guided as well, the rig had ben set to take best advantage of the conditions presented and it was now a waiting game in the blind until legal gunning time and to see what the birds might challenge us with.

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~ The Inner Sanctum ~  A hunting blind can be such a simple structure and often is, yet the wonderful times shared in these hallowed places always leave me in awe. On this most special hunt, Bill (left), our dear gunning Mate Henry (center right) and John (background) are seen in our blind. Bluebird skies initially experienced shortly after sunrise left us with some frustrating glare coming off of the decoys, a factor that we were convinced had some flocks pass us over throughout the morning. Our luck had possibly changed as a fog set down upon us at about 09:00 hours, and we we hopeful that might aid us in talking some birds into the spread. We shared the blind with my gun dogs TRAD and MAC, a sire and son duo that live for the hunt much the same as the human counterparts that were present on this fine day amongst grand friends. Any birds taken would just be a bonus to an already special day.
 
Shortly after 09:00, Bill made note of three hen turkeys feeding in the corn lot just outside of gun range west of our blind.

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~ A Sharp Eye ~  Ever watchful, our gunning partner Bill spotted a trio of hen turkeys feeding just west of our blind and both John and myself had fall permits for turkey, the season presently opened.
 
We watched the turkeys patiently as they fed in the corn lot. One particularly ornery hen would lunge and give chase to a small flock of Killdeer that repeatedly seemed to flay and land in close proximity to her, a taunting game of avian behavior I had never before witnessed, it was entertaining for us as we waited both the turkeys and the geese to take the skunk off of an otherwise incredible morning.

Both John and I had fall season turkey permits which allow for the taking of hens and the season was open. The persnickety hen finally made the mistaken decision to follow a cornrow directly at me and I leveled my bead on her and squeezed off to watch her take a hit and roll hard. To my surprise she righted and flew another 20 feet only to crash to the ground with John sending a follow-up volley her way for the finish. I sent an all too happy MAC out to make the retrieve and he never missed a beat in treating her just the same had she been a goose. The scene was a wee bit surreal as MAC made the pickup and whizzed through the spread of Honker decoys on his route back to me. Once back, MAC sat and presented the hen turkey classically and mentally into my hand upon my issue of the command "GIVE". MAC had a seemingly proud air about this new specie added his ever growing list of birds retrieved.

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~ Unexpected Guests ~  A total joy having our dear gunning Mate Henry back and joining us for what was his unexpected acceptance of an invitation to hunt with us for geese yesterday morning after a two year absence. Henry is seen holding up another "unexpected guest", a hen turkey that made for an interesting mixed bag, the result of a joint effort by myself and gunning partner John. The turkey was retrieved by my younger gun dog MAC and was properly tagged according to law as can be seen in this image.

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~ Mixed Bag ~  A most special hunt and truly a "mixed bag", that not only realized in the quirky taking of a turkey and a geese during the same hunt, but also manifested in the emotions of those present. For Bill, John, and myself, it was a day of utter happiness at having our much loved and respected friend and gunning Mate rejoining us once again as a cherished member of our lot in the inner sanctum of our blind. For Henry, it seemed obvious that "the 81 year old kid was back" as we watched and listened to his excitement at every aspect of this hunt, an activity that just a short time ago he had doubts he would ever experience again.


Henry, repeatedly told John, Bill, and myself what a great time he had and he kept reiterating his gratitude for our having taken him along on the hunt. In all actuality, it was the three of us that were most thankful for having Henry alongside us once again in sharing the experience of the magical joy that waterfowl hunting brings to each of us. This will certainly be one of the most special hunts ever imprinted on the memories of four great friends.

Cheers,
Mike ☘️🇺🇸🇮🇪
 
 
 
 
 

 

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  • 1 month later...
1 hour ago, henryrski said:

I am an 82 y/o Henry and wish I had friends like you. Most of crowd have hung up their boots and given their guns away.

Congrats Henry... you're never too old! Looks like a green shotgun shell in the photo just above your head to the left.

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