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We’ve all received those calls from our hunting or fishing buddies that come at times. Sometimes they pan out into great days, sometimes not. This is one of those days that worked out very well.

This call came from a close waterfowling buddy of mine on the first day of December. With the end of our big game season the day before, the wife and I were at Cabela’s getting a start on our Christmas shopping. The call was like many calls we’ve all received, “We’re shooting geese tomorrow, you in?” Being that I hadn’t been in the field for all of a day or two I answered, “Yup.”

“Okay, I’ll text you later with details. How many guns you bringing?”

“I’ll make some calls and find out.”

As I hung up, I looked at my wife and asked if she was interested. Being a frequent shooter in the blinds in September, her first question was, “What’s the weather going to be like?”

Checking the weather forecast, I told her, “Well, we should have a good breeze out of the north but it’s going to start snowing in a couple of hours from now and continue off and on until tomorrow afternoon and about -5 Celsius without the wind.”

The look on her face told me all I needed to know; she was out, having spent enough time cold in the deer blind.

As we headed home with our Christmas shopping done, it started to snow. I went through my gear and had everything organized for the morning. I got the details for the meeting time and place of the field for the morning. I’d phoned a few more hunting buddies with the same call, “We’re shooting geese in the morning. You in?” Call after call the answer was “No.”

The one bonus about hunting waterfowl in the later colder season is that the birds don’t normally fly off the roost right at daybreak as they do in September. But the next morning when I got up at 7:00 am, there was about 6 inches of fresh snow on the ground and still falling heavily. I knew the roads weren’t going to be that great but I kissed my wife goodbye and my dog Gauge and I hopped in the truck and headed out.

As I sat at the meeting point sipping my coffee, waiting for the rest of the crew, the snow continued to fall. As the crew started to show up, we made our way into the field to start setting up. One bonus of the late season hunt was that with all the snow there was no need to spend time brushing in the blinds, so we threw snow covers on our layout blinds, shoveled snow up against them, and started spreading our decoys out. We were going to be hiding six blinds in them so we decided to put out 10-12 dozen. The rest of the crew trickled into the field and we told our stories of our big game seasons as we got the spread in place. And the snow kept coming down.

By this point it was 10:00 am, Barry had kept an eye on these birds for the last couple of days saying they weren’t usually coming into the field until 11:00 am. Of course, as we were walking back from parking the trucks and trailers across the field, we heard the first honks in the swirling snow... everyone started to hustle.

Then the first flight of birds came winging in over the tree line and headed straight for our spread. The faster ones amongst us got to the spread just as they were cupping up on their approach and flared them off. Everyone hurriedly loaded their guns and settled into the blinds.

It wasn’t long before we could hear the next flight headed our way. With the snow, we couldn’t see them yet but then the call came out, “Line of birds at 2 o’clock.”

About 25 big geese were lining up on us. We gave a couple quick hail calls and they swung into the wind right in front of us. A few of them were jockeying to be the first on the ground and flipping sideways to dump air and drop in faster. As they dropped lower and lower, wings cupped up, and our line of shooters got ready. I eyeballed Gauge in his blind and gave him the usual first flight commands of “Kennel” and “Down”, as he was vibrating in excitement watching the birds come in from his dog blind beside me.

As they crossed the front edge of our kill hole in the decoy spread, the shot was called, “Take ‘em boys!” The shots rang out from six guns and birds started to fall. We counted eight birds on the ground and the dogs went to work. Steve and Ken’s dogs Red and Violet worked the left and center while I had Gauge working the right edge. With the now 8 inches of snow on the ground, the dogs definitely had to work harder to get a grip on the birds to carry them back to us. I could tell it was going to be a good day with our first limit of eight geese down on the first flight.

We could now hear multiple lines of birds working their way through the blizzard to the field. The birds hadn’t been bothered much by hunters during the November big game season so they had no reason to suspect any problems with their chosen field. Five birds were lining up in front of us with another couple dozen only yards behind them. The front-runners were coming in fast and as they dropped into the kill zone, I could hear “Let ‘em go! We’ll take the ones behind them.”

The front birds came in so tight to us that when they went to land they were only a couple of feet above our blinds. For some reason, they flared out as they passed over us, which made the next line of birds pull up as well. The shot was called and six of the slower birds to pull out were still knocked down and the dogs went to work.

The usual friendly banter between the shooters started, “I got those birds” along with, “What were you shooting at because I’m pretty sure I got those ones.” The dogs were happy to be working again and the shooters were happy with the lines of birds that just seemed to keep coming. I was just happy to work Gauge another time before the end of the season.

In the next 30 minutes, we kept knocking down birds. Four on one flight and six on the next. The dogs were running hard. It was one of the first goose shoots that I can remember having to use our vehicles snowbrushes to sweep the snow off our decoys. And the birds still kept coming.

At about the 60-minute mark, after another quick count, with 43 birds on the ground we realized we were already working on our last limit. With the knowledge that we only needed five more birds, before the shot was called on the next flock that came in, I laid my gun down and grabbed my camera so I could take some action shots of the last few birds. As the dogs brought in the last bird, I looked at the time – we had filled our six limits in 90 minutes.

While we collected the decoys and started loading the trailers back up, the flights of birds still kept coming. With the decoy cleanup finished, we stood around the tailgate of one of the trucks talking while having a hot coffee and watched a dozen more flights circle over the field.

We thanked Barry for the scouting work and of course, someone asked, “So who’s in for hunting again tomorrow?” I laughed as told Gauge to hop in the truck and said, “Give me a call later and let me know, I’ll decide when the call comes in.” ■

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