A Thanksgiving Goose


I went out the week before once to scout and just see if the geese were still in the area. They were but unfortunately due to the corn fields growing winter rye they were not coming into feed but simply flying over for other destinations. The good news was they were taking off from somewhere close by and coming in low over the field which left me with one option: pass shooting. So I planned to set up along a fencerow near the road along their flight path.

Arriving early the next morning I set out a handful of decoys in the middle of the field to at least set up a sense of confidence in the flock I’d seen fly over the day before. Then it became a waiting game and the wait wasn’t long. About twenty minutes after arriving I heard the familiar honking of a flight of geese approached from the same direction as before. As they crossed some tall brush to my left I turned, brought my Beretta A400 Xtreme to the shoulder, focused on a single bird and pulled the trigger. The goose folded in midair.

I watched the bird plummet to the ground about 40 yards away and hit with a loud thump. In fact, I think it bounced once. Dead bird! Or at least I thought. I turned and reloaded with the sound of another flock of geese approaching. Just as they came within sight and closing along the same flight path I looked over my shoulder at the goose on the ground. That “dead” bird was up and waddling toward the fence line and some trees! Without a dog to retrieve, I knew if it made it to the trees I might lose it so I started running across the field after it. Meanwhile the second flock of geese was passing within range off my right shoulder.

The goose made it under the fence and nearly to the tree line before I got to it. But I did get it. While this sprint is going on a strange thing happened. I don’t know if it was the sound of my shot or something else, but suddenly the sky was full of geese flying in formations of 15 to 20 birds in all directions honking their heads off. I’m trying to ring the neck of the one in hand and all I can do is watch. Realistically, there had to be sixty to eighty geese in three to four flights overhead all at the same time. Alas, they had all departed by the time I finished dispatching the single goose I had harvested.

But most importantly, being the good husband I am, we had the Thanksgiving goose promised to my wife. With an overnight marinade it will be mighty tasty after a few hours on the hickory smoker. I’ve been out one more time and the geese didn’t even honor me by flying nearby. I don’t think I scared them off with just one shot. Just different weather. We have a very healthy resident goose population here in the mountains and I’ve read that resident birds do not subscribe to a migratory pattern like their cousins from up north so they may be here all winter. If you want to get in on the action the first half of the season ends November 29th. The second half picks up December 13th and continues all the way through February 7th with a 5 bird daily limit. I learned an important lesson: Three inch #2 shot is fine for decoying geese, but if you are pass shooting them step up to a BB or BBB shot size for a clean kill.

As I write this the temperature is forecast to be 21 degrees in the morning. Want to know where I’ll be? Standing along that same fencerow waiting on the Christmas goose. No rush we’ve got plenty of time and maybe next time we’ll have two or three geese to show for our effort.

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