Normally at this time of year, most Sunday mornings will find me north of Route. 29 in northern Saratoga County carrying a rifle or south of Route 29 in a tree stand with my PSE compound bow, trying to arrow a whitetail, but not last Sunday.
Saturday, I heard and saw too many geese in the sky, and I knew many of them woud be dropping into my goose hunting field all day. So I decided to greet them early the next morning.
I was a bit slow getting out of bed Sunday, and didn’t actually make my way out into the field until about noon.
It was close to 60 degrees when I entered the field, and I actually scared a few geese up on my way in. It wasn’t exactly what you would call a “fowl” weather day, but I hoped they’d still come to feed.
I set out my eight super magnum shell decoys in a random pattern of small family groups, leaving a landing zone where I’d be facing the geese when they glided in to land. Goose land into the wind. In this particular field, I’m fortunate to have a four-foot-deep ditch that runs almost the length of the field which makes an excellent natural blind. However, it also collects water and holds it when it rains. On that particular day, I was fortunate there were only a few inches of water in the bottom of it, but there are times, depending upon recent rainfall, I’ve been standing in waders with water almost up to my waist.
I was already sweating when I slid into the ditch about 20 yards from my decoys and loaded my 12-gauge Benelli Vinci with Remington’s HyperSonic Steel No. 2s. It would be my first time using this ammo, and I was eager to see what its 1,700 feet-per-second velocity would do.
Before I finish the story of this “goose” hunt, I want readers to consider I’ve already spent approximately 30 hours of fall turkey hunting, plus last Friday, I spent a great day in the turkey woods with Don VanDerwerker of Palatine Bridge and his turkey dog, Skeeter, and Don Krutz of Ames roaming up and down the woods, hills and ravines in Montgomery County.
We didn’t find the turkeys, but we had a good time doing it. But I had not clicked off my safety at a turkey. This information is very important for a full understanding of this goose hunt.
Nothing happened in the first hour except for a flock of crows working the cut corn, but about 1 p.m., things began to happen quickly.
Coming from the direction of Saratoga Lake, a group of five geese appeared over the trees headed off to my right, and they weren’t honking. A few calls on my 20-plus-year-old P.S. Olt Model A-50 Canadian Honker got their attention, and the lead goose made the turn and headed in.
Hunched down in the ditch, I waited until they locked their wings, then clicked off my safety, aimed at the leader and was right on target, dropping him immediately. My second shot downed another. I quickly ran out to retrieve what was two-thirds of my three-goose limit. Rather than bring them back into the ditch, I hid them both beneath one of the decoys and went back to hiding.
Almost immediately, I saw movement about 200 yards out along the edge of the woods, and at first thought it was deer, but when they stepped out, they were turkeys, five of them. Having not yet shot a turkey this fall, I knew exactly where I was going to hunt the next morning.
For some reason, the turkeys walked to a small hedgerow that bordered the end of the field, turned right and headed up toward me. The hedgerow was about 125 yards from me. It looked like they were going to walk right up the edge of the ditch, but at about 100 yards, they turned and angled towards my decoys.
It was too good to be true, but they kept coming on a path that would take them just outside of the decoys, which apparently did not bother them. All the way, they were feeding on the corn, never paying any attention to the decoys.
Then from behind me, I heard honking, and a small group of four geese glided over my head and landed in among my decoys, and the turkeys still kept coming. I don’t think I could have gotten any closer to the ground without being under it. I could see clearly that two of the toms had good beards and the three others were young jakes.
My problem was there were decoys and real geese between me and the turkeys. It was difficult, but I finally found an open lane between the decoys and the real geese that hopefully would stay open long enough for me to shoot through.
Two of the jakes crossed my shooting lane, but I wanted the boss tom of the group, which I hoped was the right decision. I didn’t have to wait long for the answer, because he followed right behind the jakes and I clicked off the safety, put my head down on the stock and fired. Everything that could, geese and turkeys, went airborne except for Mr. Tom. It was 46 steps to where he lay, and he was a nice one. He carried a set of three-quarter-inch spurs, a 6 3⁄4-inch beard, and I estimated his weight at 18 pounds.
With still plenty of daylight left, I hid the tom beneath a decoy and returned to the ditch to see if I could complete my goose limit. It was definitely my lucky day because as I was putting on my face mask, a group of three honkers appeared and came in to my first call. I shot the last one in the line, and I was done with what was a VERY interesting day.