Hunting ducks, ducks and geese, too

Jan. 20, 2014 @ 05:50 PM

It was mostly trees and fields and woods and cropland where I spent and spend nearly all of my hunting pursuits.

I’ve not pursued waterfowl as much as I have liked. Really, I was never exposed to waterfowl growing up and, thus, my education and hunting skills are limited.

Yet as I am raising two hunters — and they are early-up and stay-out-cold kind of boys — we have recently become interested in hunting geese and ducks, albeit very late in the season.

This sudden interest and fascination grew a few inches when a bushel or more of geese were seen feeding on some winter wheat near one of our favorite ponds. For a few days, we watched them and studied how they entered the pond and how they left the pond. We took note and talked about a plan, and, on a cold morning, we rose before the sun and stepped into the shoes of very amateur waterfowl hunters, and so our adventure began.

From the start, I admitted over and over that I would take any advice they might want to offer.

“I know it’s weird, boys, but Daddy has never done this, ever,” I said.

Together, we came up with the plan that we would lay against the brush in the dam and wait until they flew over. Nearby, we tossed into the water our goose decoys and, from our earthly perspective, things looked natural, or so we thought.

For an hour, we waited. We were blended against the frosted grass and we were still, and in the far distance we could hear geese on a nearby pond.

“Dad, when will they be here?” asked one of these hunters.

“Sometimes, there are no answers to questions,” I replied.

Eventually, our patience became cold tested, and we vacated the pond for other activities.

Later that day, about 30 minutes before dark, I saw that the geese were on the pond and that there was potential for an ambush, or so I thought.

We were careful and efficient, and we belly-crawled the last 50 yards to be in position. I was proud of them for being so quiet, and we managed to close the distance in good order.

Yet the geese, as they are wild game, paddled to the far end of the pond just as the sun was finding refuge to the west.

“Dad, do something,” one of them said.

There comes a point as a father when you realize the difference between a good father and a totally awesome father, and I realized that when I was sprinting 100 yards to the west, 100 yards to the north and then 100 yards to the east, all in hope of coming from the other side.

Apparently, I was not so stealthy.

The geese had seen enough and took flight while I was rounding the first leg of the 300-yard sprint. When I came through the brush and toward where the geese were, my boys were bending over in laughter.

As I walked home that evening with a slight limp and looking down, I saw the joy in their faces and knew then that I would place more emphasis on waterfowl in the future and invest in camouflage running shoes.

Enjoy our time outdoors.

Reach outdoors columnist Jason Hawkins at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com.