One of the pleasures of hunting for me is when I can introduce a new hunter to the sport. I met Nicholas Marion in the summer of 2008 at a dog park where I took my new Brittany puppy Juno to play. Nicholas had a puppy of his own, a German Shorthaired Pointer named Cocotte. I struck up a conversation with him and learned he intended to hunt her, but had never trained a gun dog before and had virtually no experience in hunting. I offered to help him out with training Cocotte and introduce him to hunting. He happily accepted. I took Nick on his first waterfowl hunt, a field hunt for Canada geese, that season. How many hunters do you know of who limit out on Canada geese on their first hunt? Not only that, how many hunters do you know of who, on their first Canada goose hunt, bag five geese in five shots? Read on for an account of the hunt.
Saturday, October 11, 2008, picked up Nicolas at 0430 and set out to the wheat field at the Castor River. We arrived at about 0500. It was a bluebird morning: calm and mild. The field was dry enough that I could drive onto it to the spot I selected to rig the decoys. We got to work right away placing the thirty six decoys: twenty-four shells and twelve full-bodied. Watched for Omer who was supposed to join us at 0500, but he only showed up much later. Our host Eric is good enough not to plough under his fields after harvesting his crops, so we had lots of old corn, wheat and bean stubble to help conceal ourselves under the burlap cam nets. A flight of mallards flew over as we lay in position on the field. A short time later a lone Canada goose decoyed and landed in the decoy spread. I sat up and tried to get the bird to fly. Finally, in desperation I tried to ground swat it and missed. I shot haphazardly at it as it made good its escape. This was certainly an ignominious start to the morning, but things quickly improved. Before long a flock of Canada geese responded to my calling and approached the decoy spread from 2 o’clock. I waited until the whole flock was over the decoys in front of us before saying “take them” to Nicolas. I sat up and killed one bird cleanly with my first shot and following up with a second with another carefully placed shot. Nicolas downed two birds cleanly himself. This was quite a feat for a first-time waterfowler. We both doubled again when the next flock decoyed just as the first, gliding in from 2 o’clock.
We noticed Omer standing by his car at the edge of the field. He joined us in the field and we made room for him under the burlap camouflage. He missed on the first birds that decoyed and I had a crippled bird fly on well out of sight to my dismay. Omer downed a single, a lively cripple, and insisted on slashing open its throat, rather than let me wring its neck. He succeeded in slashing open his thumb in the process. I put a bandage on his thumb from my first aid kit and sent him on hiw way to the hospital emergency room. He needed stitches and a tetanus shot.
At the end of the hunt, Nicolas and I limited out: five birds each. The geese were eager to set down on the field. A lone goose flew in and landed while we stood in plain view next to the decoy spread. Omer took some good photos of the hunt before injuring himself. In all it was a very good morning afield.