By Nick Pinizzotto, Chief Operating Officer
Early Season Canada Goose Hunt Was a Blast
August 21, 2012
We couldn't have asked for a nicer morning on the prairie for opening day.
Scott and I worked the clock backwards in our minds as were setting our meeting time for the following morning. Shortly into the exercise it was sinking in that we were going to rise at an hour that most normal folks would consider ungodly unless there was an emergency that required evacuation. "So I'll see you there at 4:00 a.m." he said as he left my office with a bit of a forced smile on his face. Although I tempered my outward excitement, I was already looking forward to the hunt with one of Delta Waterfowl's most prolific hunters Scott Terning, especially since he already did the heavy lifting in terms of scouting and getting us permission to hunt on a great piece of private land.
We were joined at our meeting point by two members of the Delta Waterfowl Puddle Jumpers chapter committee, Jeff Herman and Nick Kulas. As excited as I was for the hunt, these guys were all that times 10. Their passion and excitement only heightened my enthusiasm and I could tell shortly into our one hour drive that it was going to be a fun day. We weren't more than five miles down the road in Scott's loaded down pickup before stories of hunts from previous seasons were being exchanged, and dozens of geese were decoyed and shot in our minds.
We pulled into the field Scott had scouted just as the first hints of daylight were peaking over the gentle slopes of the eastern prairie. After a brief discussion about the layout, which included several checks of a light and unpredictable breeze, we hurriedly set out our decoys and concealed the layout blinds as the occasional duck was already springing from the large potholes to our west. While me, Jeff, and Nick were settling into our blinds, Scott was still tinkering with the spread and his thirst for attention to detail was clear. Who could blame him? When you wake up three hours before normal and go through the trouble of driving for an hour just to get to where you want to hunt, it just wouldn't make sense to get lazy with the setup.
To my left were Jeff Herman, Nick Kulas, and Scott Terning.
Within minutes of settling in, a duck show took place that seemed like Cirque du Soleil for waterfowlers. I couldn't begin to estimate how many we saw while waiting for the geese to get motivated, but if there was ever any doubt that the prairie pothole region of North Dakota was one of the greatest waterfowling destinations in North America, it was quickly erased. Some of the encounters were so close that both Scott and Jeff took duck droppings in the face and at one point a low flying mallard drake nearly took my hat off. In addition to the hundreds of mallards we saw, several widgeon, pintail, wood ducks, and a few blue-winged teal paid us a quick visit. They too had been taking advantage of the leftovers from a recent wheat harvest, and they seemed bound and determined not to let our spread of geese decoys eat it all.
It wasn't until about a half-hour past shooting time that the first flock of geese rose from the pothole and headed in our direction. You could almost hear the hearts of four grown men pounding in unison as they approached our setup. Unfortunately it only resulted in a close call, but suffice it to say that the adrenaline was pumping and the first geese that decided to set their landing gear in our spread were in big trouble. About 10 minutes later that scenario played out resulting in the first three geese of 2012 hitting the ground.
While we saw several groups of geese and got many of them to at least check out our spread, we only had four different groups and one single make the fatal mistake of dropping into range resulting in 14 birds in the game bag. We might have shot at least that many more birds if the wind didn't shift on us during the peak of the hunt and suddenly go from east-north-east to west. This caused many of the groups to work behind us making it too difficult for good shots. Still, none of us seemed to really mind that our luck had changed as we were all content with the overall experience and just thankful for the opportunity to be there.
Reprinted from: whitetailwriter.com/early-season-canada-goose-hunt-was-a-blast/