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Posts Tagged ‘canada goose’


There I was kneeling on the cold forest floor, with my feet neatly tucked away. It reminded me of a child’s sitting position when they are playing with their favourite childhood toy. Amidst their imagination, there they sit for hours and are only surrounded by the calming environment of their own.

I slowly raised my head and took in a deep breath and absorbed my surrounding, there was a mixture of swampy air with a slight touch of the cedar and pine from the nearby vegetation along with some rotting logs sitting in the mud.

To my left I had my shotgun shell pouch zipped closed, along with my binoculars laying on the wet wild grass and to my right, was my cold steel Remington 870. The workhorse of my many hunts.

I live here now in this moment but deep down, I have a deep connection with the land around me and know that I could have been born in a time of the past. Sometimes, when I browse vintage black and white photos of hunters, either from my family heritage or from other great Canadian tales, I believe that I can share their emotions and stories that they captured in that very moment the photograph was taken and in a sense relive their experiences, such as the disappointments and successes of their hunts.

In the cold dark waters to my front were two mallard drakes and three wood ducks swimming around quite a distance out, too far for a clear shot. I sat there patiently to see if they would move closer to the edge of the swamp, but my experience had taught me that if there are ducks, always assume they are more than the eyes can see.

I carefully repositioned myself for a better look at the ducks moving around the eastern side of the pine tree that I was using as cover and noticed something white flash on my left, it turns out it was a group of about fifteen Canada geese dabbling in the water, all silent like ghosts.

They quickly became my main focus, I picked up my 870 loaded three shells, two “BB” and one number three, then half unzipped my pouch for quick access to more shells without the danger of them falling out during my approach. I was so excited that it practically took the breath right out of me, which was not a good thing for the physical work I was going be doing over the next few minutes.

I pushed off my feet and got onto my hands and knees and started to move north through the mud around very small brush like a fox using stealth, until the vegetation got too low at which time I had to leopard crawl through the mud, carefully placing my 870 ahead then lifting my body off the forest floor in a plank movement and move over logs and around small bushes. My goal was to get as close as I could to the edge of the water without alerting the spotter geese.

I might have only covered a distance no more than twenty meters but my lungs were going to burst and it felt as if I had sprinted the whole length of a football field. Once it position, I stood up on one knee and took the group by surprise and let off two shots into the closest birds. Unfortunately the birds were not as close to the edge as I had wished and my shots were not as effective as I would have liked. The flock burst into flight as I pumped my last shell into the chamber to release my final shot before a reload. One of the largest birds who took some shot from my first release was wounded and attempted to fly to the east with two others and I took just enough lead with my full choke and released the shot and the goose plunged into the waters below.

With all the commotion the ducks burst into flight and headed north-west. It took me a while to recover my goose harvest as the swamp was so dirty and full of rough vegetation. I had to retrace my shot from the shoreline and follow the white feather trail in the water to find the goose.

I was hoping to harvest a duck or two as well but for now there were all gone. I have learned that over time, that when you are setup in your blind on the edge of the water sometimes it seems that ducks will not alway show up unless you setup decoys combined with calling. Or simply luck, will dictate if they fly and land in front of you.

It is not uncommon for me to leave the shoreline and go back to the barn or truck to take a break away from the water’s edge almost like I am pretending to leave and more often than none the ducks will fly back in. Sometimes you won’t even see them from a distance and when you get back to the shore there are more mallards and wood ducks.

The mallards always seem to have better sight on you moving in close, where as the wood ducks you have to be quite visible for them to fly off. Usually followed by a few whistles and then a fast burst flight.

So, following my break, I setup a little closer to the edge of the water and within minutes a female wood duck flew in right in front of me coming in for a low landing, I instantly released a single shot and got my second harvest of the day.

I may not have achieved my bag limit but it was another incredible end of day full of memories that will never grow old, nor will I tire of sneaking up to the famed Canada goose “the feathered fox” as one author put it.

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September twenty-eighth was going to be one of my most amazing waterfowl hunts to date and I did not even know it yet. Just like the duck hunting commercial seen on television, I was already dressed and practically geared up, while still lying in bed at about four in the morning. The canoe was on the roof of my vehicle, strapped down just hours before on Friday night.

Time is of the essence because I still had a two-hour long drive heading north where I was supposed to meet my veteran waterfowl hunting friends by the bridge in their home town. They got permission from a neighbor who was allowing us to launch our two canoes from their shoreline, which was extremely generous but it was also a more strategic launch point giving us the advantage not only for the ducks and geese but we would be higher on the river with the current in our favor.

The fog was incredibly thick on Saturday morning and made for quite an interesting drive. On occasion I was able to use my head lights and this allowed me to see a little further which helped a lot because only twenty kilometers into my drive, I spotted a deer in the ditch to my right about to come out onto the road.

It was a large doe and she was turned sideways, her silhouette is what allowed me to see her with the fog because with the color of her fur she was practically invisible. As deer get older, their fur seems to have traces of grey, which makes them harder to see.

Once I got to the bridge we had not time to waste, so we drove to their friend’s place right away and had the canoes unloaded and filled with our kit and ammunition in no time at all. We were divided in teams of two and we began opening the farming gates and carrying the canoes down to the shoreline. This was all done in the dark, it is so important to have a working headlamp. My preference is the set which has red light option; it is not as hard on the eyes but just as efficient.

The fog was very thick, just like pea soup and we could barely see a few meters on the water surface, but this was familiar territory to us, so we climbed in and pushed off then paddled into the emptiness. The water below was black and very cold, we could hear the geese in the corn fields across the river, so we paddled a little faster and headed west directly for the island.

My hunting buddies had told me that there wasn’t as much duck traffic as per usual and that the Canada geese where much more active also that they had harvested two on Friday morning. The plan for the first part of the hunt was that each hunter would cut across the island from the eastern shore to the western side putting us directly into a dis-tributary which bordered a corn field in behind the very tall tree line.

So once we reached the eastern shoreline, we quickly disembarked, unloaded the canoes and cut across the island, the distance we had to cover was about fifty meters through tall grass and small brush. Every hunter had chosen their spot to put their kit and setup, our spots gave each one of us a wide; also a safe shooting arc. Now the waiting began. By now we were well within the legal time-frame of being able to shoot, which is a half an hour before sunrise, actually we were way beyond that time but the fog was so thick that it was still seemed dark.

When I was finally sitting still in my natural blind made up of tall grass and small brush on either side of me, it was quite neat to be able see the fog dissipate with the heat of the sun but it wasn’t hot enough yet to clear it all up. It was a very eerie morning and the fog ended up staying very thick until about ten thirty in the morning which was about the time our hunt ended.

The foggy ceiling was made up of several layers and the highest one was direct inline with the tree tops. You could hear the geese calling out and depending on the height of their V-shaped formation you would not see them until they broke the top of the tree line. I would complete a few duck calls and then some geese calls, I remember reading a book about goose hunting which said that Canada geese that are used to hunters and being hunted are not as vocal as younger birds or geese that are not used to being hunted. So I adjusted my calls accordingly by not over calling.

I could hear a gaggle coming in from the corn field to the west and so I called aggressively and called again about four times and then stopped. Our group could hear them now very clear, but it was difficult to tell which direction they were coming in from, then all of a sudden a group of twenty would fly in from the south-west and appear immediately through the fog. We carefully waited for the gaggle to come into shooting range and then we released a volley of shot, the geese dispersed. I had two shells left, so I pumped my action and three geese broke formation again and headed behind me, I swiveled around toward my back, released my shot pumped and released my last shell.

The lead bird fell hard, they were incredibly high and it was without a doubt my farthest shot into the sky this year and a successful harvest. It was an extremely large bird a beautify shot indeed. More geese came in every few minutes and we reloaded our three shells and released our shots repeatedly for several geese formations. More geese fell in confirmed harvests.

Now several minutes had passed and all went silent over the river again, we called out some duck calls and seconds later three mallards flew in for a fly pass and I released two shots and harvested one of them which landed to the north-east. My hunting partner to my left harvested a wood duck moments later.

This was waterfowl action like I had never seen before, the skies were extremely active. Silenced moved in again and occasionally we could hear crows calling out and flying in, there were also flocks of rock doves flying around in groups of thirty or more.

I sat still staring toward the top of the tree line, thinking about the birds which had just flown in, when all of a sudden a gaggle of twenty geese flew in coming from the south going east and flying right over me and not one goose called out. It was an incredible sight, just hearing the swish of their wings as they broke through the thick fog.
I released a shot into the lead bird but missed and my second shell jammed causing a stoppage. By the time I cleared it, pumping my action back then forward, it was too late.

It was almost like time was frozen and to see all these geese coming through the fog was like an illusion.

When I was younger my father took me to a Cirque du Soleil show and I remember we were sitting several rows up and watching the start of the show. The center of the stage was filled with white smoke and actors, dancers came onto the stage doing somersaults under the fog and you could see the fog move around with the movement of the dancers.

There were no words to describe it, magical perhaps, well I was living the same moment over and over again with the Canada geese flying in from all directions in and out of the fog, it was simply incredible and dream like.

It is not just about the waterfowl hunt and the harvests, there is something more powerful taking place in this rich Canadian wilderness. After several successful harvests, we decided to pack up and walk the rest of the island on foot heading north-east. Another hunter had harvested a goose and it landed in the water, so I volunteered to walk up the shore and get a canoe to retrieve the bird, while I was walking three geese flew in lightning fast at water level and I swung around instinctively pushed released my safety, and put a slight lead on the last goose and released my shot harvesting the bird and it crashed into the water.

At our mornings end we our group of four hunters had harvested nine Canada geese and two mallard ducks and one wood duck. It was an incredible waterfowl experience!

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Canada Goose

With the four doors open, I carefully removed each strap which was holding down the canoe to the roof; releasing their individual locks with my key for the ammunition box because the lever locks were too tight to unlock with my fingers. I then placed the straps inside the cab and climbed up into the back of the flatbed, setting myself under the canoe facing the cab rear window. With my knees slightly bent I then picked up the canoe onto my shoulders placing them exactly into the grooves of the yoke stabilizing the bow and stern with both hands on each side of the gunwales. I then spun the canoe around in the air, made my way to the back of the truck and once I was facing the river to the south, I jumped off the tailgate onto the wetlands muddy ground. I threw my hips once again into the opposite direction pushing up with my right arm, then lowered the canoe onto my thighs and gently placed it into the swamp grass to my left.

It took me just a few minutes to load my paddle, shotgun, life jacket and backpack with all the necessary kit I would need into the guts of the canoe. I moved toward the bow and grabbed its carrying strap, and started pulling the canoe through the tall grass heading south-east.

When I first got to the wetlands, I carefully scanned the sky, tree line and marsh, which included two large bodies of open water. There was a very strong wind mixed with rain blowing in my direction of travel. I knew that it would be tough work coming back once the hunt had ended. I finally chose to go to the large body of water to my left, which had lots of vegetation which had grown in since the previous year; it was filled with swamp grass, mud islands and concentrations cat tail.

Once I reached the edge of the water, I set off with one foot in the canoe and the other outside the boat and pushed myself along using the small mud islands and vegetation as steps. It was hard work but I managed to find and follow a larger water trail which had formed in the middle. There were thousands of small water trails like a maze. With the strong winds and freezing waters any mistake could prove to be deadly.

After several hundred meters of pushing and paddling, I finally reached my first large portion of open water. I now had the time to orientate myself using two large distinct trees found near the river and a community water tower to the north. I programmed my global positioning system along with my compass then put them back into the backpack. The wind had turned the canoe diagonally towards the south but I was still going into the direction I was aiming for because I had seen about six teal ducks fly around very quickly and then land on the northern edge of the marsh.

I grabbed a hold of my paddle, took control of the canoe and made my way another fifty meters. I Passed a large patch of grass mixed with cattail to my right, it resembled a small island and the grass was high enough I could not see through. On the other side directly to my front was an even larger space of open water leading to the river with just a small river bank separating the two. There were also hundreds of small mud islands and patches of grass with thick weed roots.

I had no idea how much activity was waiting for me on the other side, so I placed myself really low into the canoe, stopped paddling and rested the paddle on the yoke and my left thigh then loaded three shells into my Remington 870, chambered a shell and instinctively put it on safe using the push button.

My chosen spot for waterfowl was perfect; there was a mallard out into the open to my left but too far for a shot, two groups of teal flying around in circles right above me to my front and roughly thirty Canada geese to my right behind two large mud islands. My heart began to race and I could feel the pounding in my chest, my breathing was also going steady, but I had to control my excitement and focus on my approach. I made myself even smaller in the canoe and stopped moving.

The canoe was once again being pushed along in their direction with the wind blowing in from the north-west. I was afraid of making noise with my paddle, so I carefully reached in over the gunwale with my left hand and placed it into the freezing water, grabbed hold of some weed roots and pulled myself toward the geese. I was now very close only thirty meters away.

The feeling was incredible; I was like a fox stalking its prey, it was a very intense moment. With the wind pushing and pulling along the weed roots with my hand almost numb, I made it across a small part of the open water until I reached the opposite side of the island directly across where twenty of the geese were gathered. With the ducks flying nervously above me but too high for a shot, something alerted the geese which were on watch duty and two or three of them began to call out. I could hear splashing, I could see several of them through the tall grass moving away to deeper water and then soon after the whole flock burst into the flight.

They took flight in all directions but they did not know where I was, so it took them a few seconds to get organized and finally choose one set path and that happened to be directly over me circling to my left heading north-west.

Canada Geese are large birds and they are quick but not as fast as a duck, which gives you a few milliseconds more to react. I shouldered my shotgun twisted my body to the left and released a shot into the air, and missed a bird by the fraction of a feather. I pumped the action, took a quick breath and applied the skills I learned. Chose one bird out the flock; placed my bead sight directly in line with the chosen bird adjusting my forward allowance accordingly then releasing the second shot.

It was almost the exact shot placement which I used for the Eastern wild turkey that I had harvested. I was aiming directly for the neck and the shot filled the air and the bird which was twenty meters high froze in mid-air like a statue and with its head tilted toward the water it fell to the surface. It was a hard fall! I cleared the last remaining shell from the Remington 870 and then paddled over to recover the harvest.

It was a long hard paddle and push back to the truck against the strong winds, having at times to step out of the canoe with one leg or use the paddle as a push pole but in the end it was well worth the effort. I had just harvested a beautiful twelve pound Canada goose.

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