By Rob Olson
Cake, Hockey and a Hunt
A creative combination leads to a perfect Canadian birthday party
November 9, 2012
MY BOY JUST turned 5. In Canada, that means it's time to start playing organized hockey. I kind of wondered if that meant yet another barrier to he and I getting out hunting together. The dreaded sports distraction — guaranteed to cut into your hunting time as a family.
And of course, all sports coaches these days are insane. They think we all want to spend four nights and days a week playing one sport, because you never know, little Johnny could be the next big thing. Heck, a hen nesting at Minnedosa this year had a better chance of hatching ducklings (a measly 0.4 percent this year) than your kid making "The Show." I sort of hope Ben plays hockey as poorly as me so we get more time in the field together chasing fur, fins and fowl.
Of course, all of us at Delta could never just accept conventional wisdom, especially a notion like organized sport being the kiss of death to your hunting. So, I set out to attend my son's hockey practice on a recent Sunday morning, and then take him and a bunch of his hockey buddies on a birthday goose hunt that same day, in the afternoon. Yes, I am a sucker for punishment — that's been well established.
We had eight kids out there, running around the decoys and having a ball. We did hot dogs and cake on the tailgate, and after the food was done, we crowded into a spread of honker decoys. It was too much fun. One of Ben's buddies, Liam, brought a plastic sword and shield, just in case the geese attacked. Liam's Dad, Dan, is also Ben's hockey coach. He is totally new to hunting, so it was great to get him out there. He has been over for grilled duck breasts and loved it, so it was time he saw the meat-gathering part.
What struck me was how easy it was to do. This is yet another reason to love urban geese. We were hunting exactly 12 minutes from my house. Canada geese are so plentiful, and usually abundant near cities. What an amazing way to expose all kinds of new folks to hunting with a minimum of effort. You can hide as many folks as you want, 100 yards upwind of your dekes. And a great way to drag some lost hunting souls back in to the fray.
My brother-in-law attended. He is a great guy, but just way too busy to hunt anymore. Before kids, he was an avid hunter, but he has gotten away from it because of life. Well, he is re-energized, and his boys are very interested, especially his son, Petey. Another Dad, Jason, who is also coaching Ben's team, used to hunt but now mostly dreams of going. He is just too busy, too, but had a super time and brought a big goose down. There just couldn't have been a finer day for hunting in my family.
Many of the kids weren't too sure about how they would feel about killing geese before we went. That all melted away when we got out there. Instincts kicked in, kids ducked under magnum goose decoys, and shots rang out. Amazingly, even with all those kids wrestling in the straw and running around, we brought down a few geese. And these kids, new to hunting, grabbed the birds just as natural as you or me. They ran down a wing-tipped giant at one point — all of them — together like a pack of wolves. And they watched respectfully when my brother-in-law wrung its neck, humanely securing supper.
The kids all helped to clean the birds. And by all accounts, they slept like dogs that night. A perfect Canadian day: Hockey in the morning and honkers in the afternoon.