Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas Geese

I was fortunate enough to have a couple 3 day weekends over Christmas and New Years, so we took advantage of the opportunity and went bird hunting a few of the days.

Dec 23rd was cold, overcast, and the roads were horrible; a perfect day to jumpshoot waterfowl. We took the boys over to a favorite family spot. It's easy hunting and fun. We spot the birds, drop off kids, then drive down below the birds, get out, walk up towards them and they fly right into the death trap! A good retriever is a must and Piper, uncle Seth's Lab, fits the bill perfectly.

We took uncle Adam and Grandpa Isaacson and a slug of boys, and headed out, early that morning. Right away Adam spotted a goose. We haven't ever shot a goose there, so we were really excited for the chance.

Tyler, Corey, Jantzen, Adam and I got out with Piper and Grandpa went to push birds. We set up in a great spot, right on the bank of the water, behind a big alder bush that completely concealed us. We waited a few minutes and I was wondering if it was going to work out when shots rang out to my left. Tyler's 12 gauge barrel was smoking and a goose was down; head shot. It didn't even fold up, just cartwheeled into the river. Piper dove in at the shot swimming the rapids to the goose. She made a fantastic retrieve! The goose didn't have time to get down river because she was so quick about it.

We drove further on finding quite a few ducks. The next set up was on a dozen mallards and they flew right over us. Corey shot a drake and Tyler a hen. We were a long way off the water this time and Piper had to chase Corey's drake, it was still alive, so when she got back to us Tyler's hen had drifted 400 yards downstream. I called Piper and took off at a run down river, trying to catch it. Adam was running behind with Lucy and we finally caught up with it a half mile below where it was shot. Adam wanted Lucy to get in on the action, so he bailed down the high bank with the dogs. He threw a few rocks to show the dogs where the duck was at. Piper went right out for the rocks, then either smelled or saw the duck and she had it, another great retrieve. Lucy didn't figure the game out, but she's never made water retrieves before, so it was all new to a young pup.

The rest of our set ups weren't as productive. Tyler and Corey couldn't, to quote uncle Dave Hasler, "slap their butt with both hands!". They missed cleanly and the ducks flew on to be hunted again another day.

Dec 24th was a nice, blue bird day, and we were chuckar hunting on the Snake River. I took Jesse along, hoping to get him on some birds. Shaye Perry, Adam's life long friend, and the owner of Jesse's mom, went along with Gus, Jesse's 1/2 brother. We got into birds immediately, but the snow was deep and the birds spooky. We wasted most of the day chasing birds across snow fields and only getting a few shots, none very good. We decided to climb above the birds and hunt down country towards the rig. We trudged through deep snow for a mile before finally topping out and hunting across the south facing slopes. We got good points on a big group of birds that had split up. Gus was on the bottom group and Jesse pointed the top ones for me--the only one without a gun. Adam and Shaye got birds out of the lower group and Tyler missed superbly the group Jesse pointed. I had the best shots but could just stand there and enjoy the show. Corey had fallen behind and didn't get any shots. He had shot a cottontail earlier, but wasn't having much luck getting into birds.

Around the next draw, Corey lost his boot in the snow, falling behind again. I waited for him, giving him 5 minutes to catch up. It was taking longer for him to catch up than I thought it should, so I headed back to look for him. We were separated by the ridge back is all, and he had a gun, so I wasn't worried. But he came over the ridge crying hard. While putting his boot back on a huge cougar came down the ridge back across the draw from him at around 60 yards. It didn't come at him, charge, scream, or even seem to notice him, but its presence scared Corey pretty bad.

We hunted down country getting into LOTS of birds. The boys had lots of difficult shots they easily missed. Adam and Shaye got a few more birds between them and Gus made a fantastic retrieve on a bird earlier hit by Shaye.

December 31st was 4 degrees below zero, the river was floating ice, and the birds were scarce. We were jumpshooting ducks again, the last day of the year. The boys' hunting licenses were expiring that day and we wanted one more shot at using them. Uncle Seth went this time, along with Lyndie, Jared, Cole, and Corey's friend Parker Berry.

We found a group of ducks and Seth knocked two down, the boys just had fun filling the air with T shot. One of the ducks made it up river a long ways, losing altitude the whole way, before dumping into the river in a fog bank. We headed up to see if the dog could find it. A big group of mallards spooked off the water, but the wounded duck wasn't there. Corey looked through the fog and thought he spotted some geese. They made their way to the next bend of the river, jumping the geese off the water. Corey knocked one down and Seth got another. Piper didn't want to get in the frigid water that bad, and who can blame her. She did a great job retrieving all the birds though. It was a great end to a good year.

Tyler shot this drake a few weeks before Christmas with uncle Seth, out on the marsh, pass shooting. Jared loved it! He is really excited to hunt. When Seth knocked the two ducks down on the 31st, Cole and Jared watched the first drake drop stone dead out of the air and Piper make a long distance retrieve on it, they were REALLY excited about it. They are both chomping at the bit to be able to hunt with us! Anyway, Jared had to have a picture with Tyler's duck, I'm not sure what is up with his smile, but he is obviously excited!