got a text from a buddy saying he saw 300 geese in a grass field he knew I had permission on and he knew I wasn’t working in the morning. I jumped in the truck about an hour until dusk to check it out. When I got to the field there were closer to 600 sitting tight in the middle of a 400 acre green grass field.
Now this is in Northwestern Oregon. It is December. This means the fields are very wet, soaked, soggy, muddy, and spongy. It also means that a bunch of these geese are of the “Cackler” variety. A small (little bigger than a Mallard), suspicious goose that can drive a good man to drink.
I developed a battle plan. It involved carrying in four dozen fully flocked honker decoys, a couple of blinds, a dog blind, a Higdon Flapper (a new toy), a blind bag, shotgun, and a positive attitude.
I needed a partner. I got on the phone and got a partner to support the plan of melee in the meadow.
The next morning came early and started carrying decoys out a dozen at a time 400+ yards into the field.
This set up was as good as you can get in these grass fields. The grass is two in a half inches tall and bright green, kind a like a golf course. Nearly impossible to hide in; but I had an edge. This green field was bordered by another field of a mixture of yellow and green broken grass; good enough to hide a blind.
Because I have dealt with these “Cacklers” before, I set up me decoys twenty yards in front and fifteen yards to the left and the other half 15 yards to my right. Leaving a gap directly in front of the blinds. I put one rester decoy (the best looking one) right in the middle of the gap.
Now I deployed my (I hoped) secret weapon…..the Flapper. The Higdon Flapper is a pull string decoy that has a very lifelike wing flap motion. I put it out 30 yards in the middle of the decoys and ran the line back to my blind.
We finished up right at first light. Unfortunately, in Northwest Oregon you cannot shoot geese until a half hour after the sun comes up. This is to help protect the “Dusky” goose, an endangered subspecies of Canada goose which is very similar to the Western Canada goose. If you hunt this area you have a choice to restrict yourself to shooting the small geese (Cackling, Aleutian, Taverner’s) or learn to be very careful at shooting at the larger geese (Western, Vancouver, Dusky, Lesser).
The first flocks of geese arrive just past goose hunt time and took a course to our right. I was blowing a new goose call. From Baptize Calls, this half wood – half acrylic is quickly becoming a favorite. It has a deep mellow honk and great low moan. It has a different pitch then my Black Head Goose by Shoal Creek Calls and my ever steady Vengeance by Straight Down Game Calls, my go to calls. These calls are so sweat to blow they are actually tuff to screw up on.
The geese turned and I activated the Flapper a few times. They dropped elevation about 300 yards out and came in low. They acted like they were going to sit about 60 yards out and I flapped the decoy again and did a feeder growl on the Baptize call. They lifted, floated really, and reach out with their black webbed feet at 20 yards right in front of us. My first shot dumped a goose as easy as I have ever taken. My auto short cycled and I had to push the bolt closed. I still had time to take a Taverner’s that was trying desperately to get his beak out of here! My buddy dropped two additional birds.
Boo darted out after the birds all who hit the grown dead.
Man I love when a plan comes together.
I carry in my blind bag a QMAXX lubricating pin and quickly took my auto down, wiped it and rubbed some lube on it and reassembled it. Good to go.
Twenty minutes later and another group come near. I lean on the call and hit the flapper and low and behold they turn and come directly over. Over low, maybe 20 yards high. My partner knocks down a lesser. I was waiting for a better shot and didn’t fire.
A few minutes later and a large flock of 80 or so birds announces it presence a mile off coming over some grain towers. I start in on the call and hit the flapper. These birds never wavered. They were on a line. All small geese. I have had my heart broke by these small geese before.
Notorious for being difficult to get into the decoys these had me hopeful but suspicious.
I worked the flapper and the call, just some moans and growls and the flapper. And here they came…low …. right on target feet down. I let the front of the group hit the ground and when the last of the flock was within three feet of earth I called the shot, I came out of the blind and these weary geese just stood there thinking. My Maxus communicated to the group that this was not a social gathering. Two Aleutian geese had all their problems solved as the #2s found the one I was aiming at and a by-stander. My buddy fired at a separated bird to collect his final goose.
Eight geese down an hour after shooting starts. I don’t know you, or where or what you hunt, but I got to believe two limits in an hour is pretty good for you too.
We collected our geese and started taking down the spread of decoys and bagging them. A single honker came over the horizon and made slow low circle and landed in the spread while we were in the middle picking up decoys. Boo escorted him out of the decoys. The rain picked up as we continued getting our gear out of the field and two more small flocks came in and circled the spread with us walking in the open. These geese like… maybe even love this field!
Now I had things to do the next day and there was no way I could go hunting. But the day after that I could. I drove back out and found the geese not in the field I had hunted but in another field a mile and a half down the road. This field was over 600 acres and no spot to hide a blind.
I decided that I should be able to turn geese back into the field I was in as they would be able to see my spread of decoys when in the air coming to this spot.
Now my only problem now was how to get enough decoys into the field I hunted earlier in the week to pull these birds. Additionally, I was on my own on this hunt as my buddies all have real jobs.
So up an hour earlier and I take a nice set up into the field. Luckily, it was raining hard as I went out to the field and ….it only intensified.
Knowing I was little off the X today I took in five dozen fully flocked Avians, the flapper, a layout, my dogs Switch Back blind, blind bag, shotgun and an initially positive attitude. But things change.
Sun came up …. I think; it was still raining pretty hard. No geese but they didn’t show up until an hour latter two days before. An hour and a half later I saw the first flock. A mile and half to my west they came in and landed in the field I saw them in the day before. A few minutes later another large flock of geese headed in the same way. I flagged them and called as hard as I could but not so much as a look. Wave after wave of geese; clouds of them continued for the next hour. All landing in the field I saw yesterday and nothing even close enough to get me a little excited. As these things tend to go, pretty soon it was after noon. At this point I thought I should give it one more hour. An hour later I was pissed I gave it another hour. I started the chore of picking this all up and slugging it back toward the “Duck Truck”. The good news …. it was still raining.
Now I don’t want to sound like a bragger or anything but this day may not have killed the average Waterfowler but it probably would of at least broke his heart.
Lessons learned, never underestimate the value of being on the X. When given a choice, sacrifice other considerations to be on the X. Also, for selling geese on the landing, this Higdon Flapper is a pretty fine tool.
In till I see you in the field, be safe, be good, AND BE LUCKY!