I was introduced to goose hunting 35 years ago at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge. As a young boy, I was intrigued by the "pit blind" with a foot of cold water in it. My Dad sent me to recover a downed goose in a corn field who wasn't ready to give up. I got to spend time with the adults, but my feet felt like they were frozen and I wanted to go home! It was an experience that is still vivid in my mind.
Today, In the wee morning hours of November 24th, cooks worked wearily on their Thanksgiving feast. At about the same time, I was donning my wetlands camo and heading for the goose blind. In North Missouri there are 2 seasons for the large Canada Goose this year. The first week-long season ran from October 1st through the 9th. Today marked the opening of the second season, and I was ready for it.
A large pond on our farm has been drawing lots of geese the last few weeks. Some duck hunters have already paid a fee to hunt there, so a call was required to make sure they didn't mind me interrupting. Since it was Thanksgiving, only 2 hunters, and a couple of grandsons, were going to be in the blind. I was welcome to join in.
Meeting met up in the dark, we began our quarter mile trek to the blind. We all started together, but the grandfather fell behind as the younger boy tripped over every "cow hole" he came across. Every so often the boy would cry "whoops!" and the gap grew. Several times, we waited as the young boys caught up and eventually, we made it to the blind.
The two older hunters were dismayed by the wind direction; it was directly in our face. It turned out to be to our benefit. The geese were coming in high from the front, setting their wings, then turning and coming in directly over the blind from behind in a descent to the pond. Every time some geese headed our way, we shushed the boys and slunk deeper into the blind while honking on our calls. More than once, the two boys would run pointing to the front of the blind yelling, "There's a goose!"
I can say those boys were handy when it came time to retrieve the downed fowl. When given permission, they would bolt from the blind and edge into the cold water and drag the geese back excitedly. For some reason, the geese kept coming and we all limited out. I dropped the 9th goose about the time the youngest boy was losing interest. "My feet are freezing," he said. Since we had limited out, we headed back to the truck.
While hunting, the boys were a distraction, but something the youngest had said brought a thought to my mind. I don't remember who we were hunting with in that pit blind 35 years ago. I don't really care. My memories are of being in a blind with my Dad, retrieving downed geese, and feeling like my feet were frozen. In 35 years, these young boys will re-tell this story.