They rose from the lake. A flying mass of ruckus and feathers. A big flock of geese. At least 50 maybe 60 birds. They skirted our field. Cruising low over the distant treeline. I was disappointed. Dusty and I left Detroit at 8:30 the night before. Two hours of sleep and an hour of setting our decoys and blinds creates an expectation. That first flock was supposed to set their wings and float into the spread. It seems to always work out better in my brain than it happens in real life.
I could hear more geese on the water. Holdovers on the roost. Nervous of flying into the thin September fog. It’s the last morning of the early goose season in Michigan. They’ve seen two weeks of hunting pressure. Waiting a few minutes for breakfast puts the sun at their advantage exposing blinds and shine in the decoys. They’re not dumb.
I shiver in my blind. Boots soaked from the frost covered grass. Cold Canadian air rides a subtle north wind across the pasture. Cow shit and wet dog. The odors of a Thursday morning well spent.
Honking. Cackling. Another flock gets excited about leaving the roost. They sound like a smaller flock than the first. Increasing the odds they’ll land in our spread of 12 shells and 8 full bodies.
They emerge from the fog. Like a scene from a Ducks Unlimited TV episode. I reach for my call and hunker down in the blind. I bark at Zeus to lay down. His eyes are locked on the direction of the approaching geese.
They’re hanging in the fog like kites. A smaller goose leads the way. Eyes fixed on a single spot in the center of the decoy spread. The landing gear comes down and a few start back peddling preparing to land.
The blinds spring open. I swing on the lead bird out over the decoys. She backflips and crashes into a decoy. The rest of the flock cuts directly over the blinds. I hop to my knees and spin around. The second shot folds the bird on the outside of the flock. The third round brings down one of the biggest geese in the group.
I sat there satisfied and stunned. In the matter of 20 seconds the sleepiness and the cold were distant memories. I hit my first triple.
I sprang from my blind and jogged through the overgrown hayfield searching for the double. Zeus flew beneath the electric wire fence to drag the first bird back to the blind. Then I heard more.
They appeared out of nowhere. Another flock looking to land. I hurried back to the blind but it was too late. I watched them disappear over the trees with my call in hand and my heart pounding out of my chest.
We sat there for a few more hours waiting for the birds to head back to the water. We had one more flock work the decoys. For a second I thought we’d have another shot but they flared at 70 yards and headed back to the lake.
So we went to Bob Evans. Then went grouse hunting.
The afternoon hunt was less than exciting. The birds were wise to our set-up and wouldn’t come close. My only entertainment was watching the horses and cows attempt to figure out the plastic decoys. They tasted them. Sniffed them. Seemed genuinely distributed by them. Then knocked them over on their way to the other side of the pasture.
It was a long trip home. Four hours on the road. Then unloading the truck and cleaning birds on my tailgate at 2 am. I was expected back in the office in what seemed like a matter of minutes. I kept replaying the scene. The birds cutting through the fog. Calling the shot. Watching another great retrieve from Zeus. All the work. All the driving. No sleep. It was so worth it.
While cleaning the last goose I discovered it was hit in two spots. Dusty got a piece of that bird. So I guess it’s officially an assisted triple. I’m still claiming it.