Thursday, January 19, 2012

Goose Revenge

Revenge is sweet.  Really it is.  Saturday morning sitting in the chill of the duck blind, I could not help but wonder if the geese would make an encore appearance.  After all, they knew they had defeated me and my hunting buddy just one week before.  Over fifty birds flying just above eye level converging in a massive flock of honks and squeals had somehow avoided five shots of steel.
The wood ducks were up early, starting just before legal shooting time.  Ringnecks were likely mixed in with hooded mergansers as well.  Occasionally I would see several grebes swim around the corner of the trees peeking in my direction, then swim back.
Off in the distance I heard a familiar sound.  Far away, on the other side of the swamp was a decent sized flock formation of Canadians.  Much bigger than a duck, their flight seems slow based on their actual speed and their size.  A wood duck or merganser on the other hand seems to zip through the air effortlessly and with a purpose.
No, not these geese.  Their only purpose was to rub in my misses from the previous week.  Their slow path around the circumference of the swamp was just to antagonize me.  How did I miss last week to begin with?  I could have swatted them down with the end of my barrel had I tried.  Was it the incessant noise?  I am a hunter.  I do not get caught off guard and I am certainly not intimidated by the flying trash bags.  I replayed that situation in my head the entire week.  I was caught up in the moment.  Instead of shooting where I should have, I was overcome by the size and proximity thinking subconsciously that a blast from the end of my double barrel would bring the bird down.  And I may have been right had I been using BB shot or even 2 shot.  But I was hunting ducks and was armed with 4 shot steel.  If shot in the right place 4 shot would suffice.  However the right place is the head and neck and I was simply putting the steel in the air knowing it was an easy shot to the body.
I would not fail this time if given the chance.  Still armed with 4 shot, as ducks were the main prey, secretly inside my heart, I wanted a goose.  The small flock peeled away from the edge of the swamp and headed to a protected area to the south.  I sat there thinking this hunt was likely over.  Then, to my back, I heard it.  Several cackles.  There were not many, maybe two or three at the most, but they were looking for a place to land and feed.  I squatted down and peered over my right shoulder.  They were getting closer.  I slipped the safety off.  Again, the locator honk sounded.  Their path would be directly overhead.
Two birds appeared just behind the pines to my rear.  They were high, maybe 90 to 100 feet.  Maybe more.   Just as they passed overhead, I pulled the trigger.  BANG!  The trailing bird cupped his wings and began a decent.  He was hit.  The lead bird sounded his dissatisfaction in the event.  I watched the trailer settle down below the tree line 100 yards to the Northwest.  The lead bird turned trying to figure why its mate had decided to land.  For a while, I thought it may circle back around for me to get a shot at it as well.  It finally broke from its pattern and flew off to the distance.
After hunting for a while longer, I drew the decoys and left the blind.  I wondered if I would locate the goose.  It was hit, but based on the way it was landing I was not sure if it would be mortal.  I eased the boat through the swamp having to pull the trolling motor several times and use a push pole to get through the weeds.  Is that it?  There was black, white and gray lying on top of some swamp grass.  As I got closer, I could make out the neck was folded, the head underwater.  Yes, I had gotten my trophy.  It appeared to be a nice shot, the steel patterning well on the head and neck.  Not an instant kill, but not one that would cause suffering either.
Death is something a hunter must always endure.  It is the necessary end to the means of the hunt.  I felt a sense of accomplishment.  However, the revenge part; not so much.  Yes, I had learned something from the last hunt and my instincts put me on the spot for the clean kill this time.

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