Goose Hunting

Pushing Boundaries

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Goose HuntingNo, I don’t mean annoying people. I’m talking about being the rookie. I’m challenging the notion that taking on the role of rookie is a bad thing.  Without rookies, every activity would die a short lonely death.  Experts and professionals need and feed off of this role more than any other.  How much do they spend on obtaining new customers (rookies)? What would our adventure be like if we didn’t have anyone to pass the fun on to?  I took on the rookie role this weekend and found a new adventure to add to my growing list of annual events.

This weekend I was tagged the FNG (F** New Guy), for my first ever kayaking goose hunt. The rookie for all intensive purposes, I pretty much didn’t have any responsibilities, except not to shoot anyone. Our group consisted of eight men and the kayaks were provided by the Admiral because he owns the plastic navy.

Of course I had to joke with the Admiral: “Do you buy a new yak (kayak) every time you make a friend?”

Admiral: “Nope, I wouldn’t have any yaks if I did that.”

He was also kind enough to loan me the shotgun I used for the day. You  pretty much can’t get a better group of guys.

The Admiral was exceptionally prepared — the yaks had been staged the night before as well as the chase vehicles.  The run was from Independence to Salem, Oregon about four hours via the Willamette River about which the fleet hit about 6:30 a.m. We weren’t in the water five minutes before the steel shot started flying. It was at this point I learned my first lesson on goose and duck hunting  You can shoot duck at 6:30 a.m. but goose does not open until 8:00 am.  The official time keeper appropriately reprimanded the group and we continued on.

The goose continually taunted us until about 7:55 a.m. when they mysteriously disappeared. I have to admit here I was a little gun shy at first. I hand’t shot a gun for a few years and never from a kayak. After about an hour and a few shots from the group I took my first shot pulling a duck out of the air, eliciting a few yells from the fleet. Here is where I made my rookie mistake. To my surprise the duck wasn’t dead and it started to swim off.

“What the hell?” I put my shotgun and started chase. When I got too close the duck went submarine on me. More curses. It popped up pretty close to me, so as I raised my shotgun to finish it, I realized that I was about to unload at a fairly low angle across a river, and hesitated on the shot. My first duck escaped.

The next opportunity the fleet had brought another duck out of the air, not by me. Here I learned after you take one out of the air, chase, and unload. Just make sure you’re not unloading in the direction of anyone else. It is also, important for the fleet to help make sure you have a clear shot by staying the hell outa the way. Duck 1, Fleet 1.

The rest of the trip was mellow with a few shots and one finale. The admiral had a few spots he was pretty sure would have geese and duck just waiting for us, and he was right on the last one. We aligned the fleet up, closes to shore furthest back and stagger forward for a clear line of site when coming up on the geese.

“Hold! Hold! Fire!” says the admiral and five geese go down after a hard fought battle. Geese don’t like to die.

Unload when you get to the Salem city limits and coast the final quarter of mile with dead geese attached to your yak.  Better to be the rookie than never to hunt from a yak on the Willamette.

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