Pennsylvania Game News - January 2011 - 37
yards off to my left, I ran a thin, short line of decoys downwind from the mass. The same distance to my right, I extended a longer, thicker line of decoys downwind from the mass. My hope was for incoming geese to touch down in the open area in front of my blind, between the two posts of decoys. Daylight was just beginning to crawl across the countryside as I settled into my blind to await the day’s first flights. I had been sitting there only about 10 minutes when I heard a single honk behind me and to my left. I looked over my shoulder and spotted a lone Canada gliding low across the field, heading right toward my decoys. The goose dutifully swung wide of the spread to put the wind in its face and then made a beeline for my landing zone. I never touched my call. When the goose stretched out its black, webbed feet and started backpedaling with its wings to touch down, I popped up from my blind, shouldered my 12-gauge and fired. The bird crumpled instantly. I jumped out of my blind and ran across the field to collect my prize. I briefly admired the plump goose before the sound of flocks in the air sent me scurrying back to my hideout. Strings of noisy geese soon were crisscrossing overhead. I hammered away at them on my call, sending out hails, clucks and moans in rapid succession. Some of the birds showed interest in my spread, but not enough to dip into shooting range. This went on for a while, maybe 20 minutes, before I spotted a group of six birds way off in the distance, directly in front of me. They were pretty low and their wings were pulsing slowly. These geese definitely seemed workable. I barked out a series of clucks and the flock continued on its collision course with
my spread. About 200 yards out, the geese stopped moving their wings altogether and sailed toward me. My heart raced as I dropped my call and got my shotgun in hand. I let the lead goose land, while the others were hovering right behind it, before I sat up and fired. Nothing. The flock split up, with three of the geese heading out over the decoys to my right. I swung on them and fired at the leader. It dropped out of formation and hit the ground with a thud. Seeing that bird go down, I kept swinging and fired again. The second goose in line fell and my limit for the day was filled. A tremendous feeling of satisfaction welled up within me as I placed my unloaded shotgun on the ground outside my blind and made my way out through the decoys to fetch my birds. I picked up the first one and dutifully studied its legs. No band. I walked over to the second one, and there it was. Band No. 104856189 glinted as its smooth, flat side caught a ray of sunlight while I was still a few feet away. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Not only had I limited out, but I had collected a leg band — my first in about eight years. And no one else could claim it because I was the only one hunting. When four or five guys are hunting together and everyone shoots at a flock, it’s often hard to tell who shot which goose. Not on this day. Band No. 104856189 — which was clamped to a goose seven months earlier by a biologist working some 400 miles to the north — was mine.