I would bet that I am not the only one who enjoyed one or two of these recent special nights in the marsh. It was 7:30 and the moon was a replica of the harvest moon at Halloween. It was huge, yellow, and about 30 degrees above the horizon. You could almost reach out and touch it. The temperature was about 12 degrees, but it wasn’t the bone-chilling cold of a deer stand. THAT cold starts in your fingers and toes, and works its way up between your shoulder blades to a spot between your heart and your throat. It makes you shake until you have to “will” it to stop or call the hunt and go home. I don’t recall ever doing that, but I have considered it.... The air was completely still, and it was so quiet you could hear your heart beat. The first sounds I heard were a few faint greeting honks from the White-fronted geese. The Snow Geese chimed in, and the Canadas fired up and almost drowned out everyone else. It was the process geese go through preparing for lift off to go feed or continue traveling on their migration. They talk to each other all the time they are flying-- we have all seen and heard the geese over our part of the country---the Bottoms and Quivira are major resting spots and vital to these geese. It was a mesmerizing 20 minutes to see them get up and leave-- the music came in waves as each group took flight. As Neil Diamond says--“What a Beautiful Noise.”
Ducks are quite different in their processes. They leave in smaller groups and seem to be earlier and more concentrated than the geese. Ducks always appear before the geese when we are in lay out blinds in the fields with hundreds of decoys around us and a Labrador Retriever lying between our legs or under a cover beside the blind. When the dog wants out, the geese are coming, and you are trying to hold the lids of your blind shut & blow your call at the same time--you resemble a jumping bean when that eager lab is lunging to see or retrieve the geese. There is always some drama in that process--and we laugh a lot. If we get a few to eat--it is a great day! Setting the decoys and picking them up always consumes most of the process. Can you believe guys come from lots of states and places to do this? These are some of the best hunts we share.
Our communities receive a lot of benefit from these hunters--many of whom have become our friends and cohorts with annual events and visits.
As I stood there in the presence of that moon it occurred to me that Andy Williams, Stagger Lee, and Karen O (“The Moon Song”- a tiny little melody that just sifts through your fingers) all must be goose hunters.