One Over

My brother and I had been dreaming about this hunt for a while.  We anticipated flocks bombing into our spread and the easy shots at fat mallards and Canada geese.  As we laid in our blinds in this remote (like 67 miles to the nearest Walmart remote), wheat field we listened to the hen Mallards on the distant water and anticipated our soon to be realized success.

We had a big spread.  Taking about 90 minutes to put out our 120 fully flocked Canada goose decoys, our thirty full body duck decoys, a couple dozen wind socks to add movement, seven mojo’s and our two Higdon flapper decoys. 

The sunlight started to show to our east.  We could hear the honkers out on a lake to our north.  We waited.  Then we waited some more. The sun broke over the horizon. We waited some more.   We saw some flocks of geese 2 miles out flying toward the north.  We waited some more.

Waiting can be a big part of waterfowling but it can also be the precursor to a failed hunt.  After traveling some 1550+ miles to get here and invested more money then I cared to discuss with my wife, failure wasn’t appealing.

While mulling over my bad decision making process in choosing this field, I looked up to see to Drake mallards land in front of my duck decoys. 

My moral challenge involved waiting and confirming my brother saw these two birds and was ready to engage them or, option two; shoot them. 

My deliberation was interrupted by a twelve gauge shotgun blast coming from the concealed blind on my right.  A second shot rang out as I swung open my blind and raised my gun.  Feathers filled the air as I watched two birds hit the ground like bags of sand. “Thanks for calling the shot”, I uttered with all the sarcasm I could push.  “I was just about ready to call it for the both of us”, I lied. 

It is a tradition of mine to always present as more considerate then I actually am.   

As Boo handled the retrieves I detected the distant “Honk” of a lone goose.  Pulling out my Baptize short reed a called blindly not yet seeing the goose.  As I scooted down in the blind I picked up the bird.  Actually two geese.  They were 500 yards out low and looked on the spread.  I “suggested” to my brother (pronounced “yelled”) to work the flapper. 

Now if you ask I will say it was the superb manipulation of the short reed that brought those two in like they were on rails.  They came in feet out to my left in a way that my brother really didn’t have a shot.  I rose and slapped my check to the stock of my Browning and snapped two quick shots and both geese literally rolled in to the decoys. 

Before Boo was back with the second goose a flock of five ducks was coming from our right.  My brother spoke to them on the Marsh Militia single reed he had taken from my bag in the predawn preparations; a sin I would discuss with him later.  As these ducks, Mallards and Gadwalls, came over we both took aim.  I emptied a barrel on a drake Mallard and my brothers Maxus barked three times and a hen Gadwall joined him on the ground.

The dog did his job while more geese were in play coming from behind us.  A flock of ten, all big Canada geese, low and definitely focused on the decoys.  Again, the calling was magnificent.  I might not have said it yet but my brother doesn’t call geese; I do. Laying in the blind, blowing my Baptize Goose call and trying to switch out my #2’s for some heavy BBs, I was making this too hard. 

The geese came in from behind and flew over us low.  I focused on the left side of the group. My over and under barked twice and solved all the problems these two geese have ever had.  My brother emptied his auto and piled three out front of the decoys.

Suddenly the selection of this field started to look like the work of a genius.

As I shared my wisdom on field selection with my brother and assisted Boo in picking up the big Canada geese, a large group of big ducks moved out in front about 1000 or so yards.  We hurried into the blinds and closed the doors screaming the Marsh Militia and a Double B double reed.  The ducks turned into the wind and dropped altitude.  At 200 yards out I “recommended”, (pronounced “yelled”) to my partner to can the calling and let them come in.  They did.  As this flock of 25 came in with feet out I called the shot and we rose.  Five shots rang out and two hen Mallards and two more drakes failed to retreat with the rest.

Within five minutes in came a group of three and I picked the only green head and at 20 yards almost dethatched his beak.

A quick count showed we had five geese and ten big ducks.  Two more to limit.  “Lets make the last two green heads” I encouraged. 

Now in came a group of ducks.  They came in the way they always do in my dreams.  Out in front, cupped wings, low and gliding.  With the feet of the Gadwalls in the front of the flock almost touching the ground I rose and picked a drake Mallard off to the left. I whiffed on my first shot but managed to keep my cheek on the stock and bead on the target and took him with the second.  I heard my brother fire and looked over to him as he asked, “Did you take a drake too”. 

Five geese and twelve big ducks.  A good hunt.  A really good hunt!

We gloated over our success and shared how impressed we were with our shooting while we picked up and packed the trailer.  We positioned birds for a few pics and as I walked around the corner of the trailer I almost ran into him. 

A North Dakota Game Warden;  the first I have seen here in the 15 years I have hunted this area.  He looked over the birds, checked our licenses, talked about the migration, past hunts (his and ours) and was extremely affable and polite.  Then while my brother was in the trailer he turned to me and said, “You know you are one over on the mallards don’t you”?

Now I am not proud of this.  I didn’t realize we were over.  I was focused on no more than four hens and focus on greenheads.  But the limit is five mallards.  We had eleven. 

“I know it is easy to do and the fine is just $50, but I am going to need to write one of you a citation”. I apologized to the officer again telling him that I felt awful about our mistake.  But if a ticket must be written…. He should go ahead and ticket my brother. 

Until I see you in the field, be safe … be good …. And BE LUCKY!