Sunday, August 17, 2008

A goose hunt we will not soon forget

I was a little reluctant to go to Tuttle this weekend. Scott took the afternoon off of work on Friday (I sure wish I had known he was going to do that, as we had a play date scheduled and didn't get to spend that time at home with him) and he brought some groceries home to take to Tuttle. When I was putting them away, I noticed there were 3 packages of brats (about 18 brats in all), and I thought to myself, there's no way we can eat that many brats........Scott must have company coming to Tuttle? When I asked him about it, he had a smirk on his face that told me all I needed to know. Yes, we had some guests coming. Scott told me there were a couple of guys who had invited him to go goose hunting with them near Tuttle. I wasn't too thrilled to hear that, because I didn't want to end up spending our whole day Saturday alone with the kids, like I do every other day of the week, in Tuttle. Scott assured me it would only be a couple of hours. Yeah, right............I've been around long enough to know what those couple of hours turn out to be! I was going to back out from going, but Scott had arranged for him, Gage and Emma to go fishing, and this was going to earn Gage a Master Angler's patch for Cub Scouts. So, we went to Tuttle.

Saturday afternoon Scott started talking about going hunting with these two guys. I asked him who they were and he said Joe and his friend Nick. Apparently Joe and Nick had been scouting around Tuttle the past several days getting ready for the early Canada goose season which opened August 15. Scott's plan was to go out hunting with them for a couple of hours and then invite them back to our house in Tuttle for brats. I asked him if Gage and Emma could go with him. He didn't think it would be a good idea because it was so hot out. In my eyes, that was an excuse not to take them. Then, I asked about all of us going. He thought that would probably be okay. Soon after that Scott got a text message from Joe saying they would be at our place in less than 15 minutes. I was shocked when they arrived to see that Joe and Nick are high schoolers! I was quite impressed with Joe's rig. He was driving a nice Chevy truck and a very nice trailer for hauling decoys. Scott asked them if they minded if the kids and I tagged along. I'm not sure if they were too interested in that, but what could they say?

On the drive to the hunting spot, I informed Gage that he should not expect to be driving that nice of a truck when he's in high school! He wanted to know why. I told him, "Because your Dad doesn't even have a truck that nice!" The spot was about 2 1/2 miles outside of Tuttle, in a field of wheat stubble. I have never been goose hunting before, so I had no idea what to expect.

It started out with Joe and Nick unloading all of the decoys. He had ALOT of decoys, and I think Scott was envious! This kid has more decoys than Scott, if you can believe that? Scott started working on the blinds. They each had a "Finisher blind". They had Scott putting wheat stubble into the straps on the blind to make them blend in while they set up the decoys. The kids were helping by gathering up the straw while Scott stuffed it into the straps on the blind (I wish I had a picture, but I left my camera at the house in Tuttle). It was very hot outside and I could see that Gage was quickly losing steam. I had been sitting in the truck watching, then decided I better help. We had 3 blinds covered in straw and then I started asking questions, such as, "Where will the kids and I be?" "How long is this going to take?" etc, etc. I asked Scott if the kids could be in the blind as well. The blinds aren't really big enough for Scott to have the kids in it with him, and then Joe said they had more blinds if we wanted to set up in blinds. Scott got out 2 more blinds and we stuffed them with wheat stubble. I was sweating my butt off, not to mention I was out there with shorts and flip-flops on and my legs were getting scratched up terribly by the stubble. Gage and Emma were getting pretty scratched up as well. They had their crocs on as well as shorts. We weren't dressed for hunting. Like I said, I have never done this before, so I had no idea what to expect. So, as I'm studying this situation, I'm trying to figure it out. There are now 3 blinds up in the middle of all of the decoys, and now 2 more blinds a ways behind them. Hmmm.........let me math isn't adding up correctly. Joe, Nick, Scott, Gage, Emma and myself...................that equals 6 people...........we now have 5 blinds ready. I asked Scott about this. I said, "Are Gage and Emma going to be in a blind together?" Scott replies, "Well, no, I thought they could each be in one of these blinds." Stacy replies with a puzzled look on her face, "Uh, where am I going to be?" Scott says, "Well, I thought you would be in the truck? Do you want a blind?" I reply, "Do you think I am out here sweating my butt (I used a different word) off collecting straw to fill these blinds and then sit in the truck?" Scott went over to Joe's truck and got another blind. (I don't know any adults that could set up 3 extra people in blinds, let alone a high schooler!) Anyway, we started filling another blind with straw. I was nearly dying of heat exhaustion and had to take a rest on the tailgate while Scott and the other 2 filled the blind with straw. We had a cooler filled with ice (mostly melted) and several bottles of Powerade and water and I had to continually get after Emma as she was drinking it all. It would have been okay if she was just drinking it, but she was filling the little cap with the drink (spilling most of it) then drinking it out of the cap. I told her we were going to be out there for awhile, and please don't drink all of the liquid before we really need it! We got out to the wheat field around 2:30 or 2:45 I believe. It is now nearly 4 pm and the place is set up. Scott and Joe drove their vehicles back to the road and then everyone got into their blinds. I remember a few years ago when Scott got his first Finisher blind. I remember how excited he was and he would get in and out of it, then in it again and lay their and pop up out of it pretending to annihilate the ducks. I vividly remember him talking about how "comfortable" it was. Here I am, laying out in the middle of a wheat field, in 90 degree temps, in a body bag that's one of the most UNCOMFORTABLE things I have ever laid in. There was a bar (part of the frame) that ran right across my lower back that I knew was going to end up causing major back pain. Gage and Emma were each in a blind on either side of me. Scott, Joe and Nick were placed about 50 yards in front of us, up on top of the little hill we were on. It's nearing 4:30. The goal was to be set up and ready before 5. We were doing pretty good, I thought. Now, we just wait for the geese to come in. Well, we waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited some more. The kids were driving me insane. Here's how the conversation goes:

Gage: "I'm hot Mom."
Mom: "So am I Gage!"
Gage: "Mom, when are the geese going to come?"
Mom: "Gage, I have no idea. Remember, I have never done this before either."
Emma: "Mom, I'm bored, can we go home?"
Mom: "Emma, I did not just nearly kill myself to help Dad get this all set up for us to leave before any geese have come in. We are not going anywhere."
Gage: "There are never going to be any geese, can we just go home?"

Okay, you get the picture. This went on, and on, and on, and on. We had perfect seats for watching all that the guys were doing. Before Joe had taken his truck back to the road, I watched him fill his blind with many different things. He had a cooler, a bag which looked like it housed a very big camera, a tripod, a big container of water, etc. He also had several different hats to choose from. Both Nick and Joe had on camo hats that blended right in with the field we were in. As Scott got back from taking his truck to the road, Joe says to Scott, "Hey man, you want to use one of these hats? They blend in really good." Scott said he had his own. Joe replies "Are you sure? This one blends in really good." Scott says, "That's okay, I have one of my own." Scott pulls out his hat, which was a bit more drab than the one he was offered, but it seemed to work fine. Now, as we're laying here, cooking, in these blinds, I am watching the guys up front. They are eating Doritos and granola bars, shooting the breeze with jugs of COLD water. I didn't really feel like eating anyway, I was much too hot. Thankfully the kids didn't notice right away.

My body, from waist down, was completely drenched in sweat. My legs were so wet with sweat I could hardly stand it. I made a HUGE mistake in thinking we should come. However, I am NOT quitting. We are going to lay out here and cook in these blinds until the birds come, or the sun goes down, whichever happens first.

Scott came back to check on us a few different times. Once the kids saw them eating Doritos, they suddenly were starving to death. Scott brought them a handful of chips. I have never heard so much complaining and belly aching in my life. I was just as miserable as they were and I begged them both to PLEASE JUST BE QUIET! At one point I mentioned to Scott, if nothing else, this would prove to be good birth control for these high school boys.

FINALLY, I started to hear some geese off in the distance. It took quite awhile, but finally there was some excitement up front and they start hollering for us to pull our covers over our blinds. The covers of these blinds were a large-holed, mesh-like material. As I pulled my cover over me, I now become covered in pieces of straw and wheat that have fallen through the mesh. This, mixed with sweat..............well, let me just say it's a bad combination! Anyway, the geese are coming. We are all hidden in our blinds waiting. I was still able to see fairly well, and could see Joe waving a flag-like thing that was supposed to resemble a goose landing in the field and he and Nick were blowing away on their goose calls. I'm trying to help the kids out by giving a play-by-play commentary on what was happening, as quietly as I could, as not to scare the geese away. They flew around us and were on their way continuing in the same direction, but then they turned around and started coming back. I kept telling the kids, "Are you watching? The geese are coming, they're turning around and they are coming back!" The suddenly the guys popped up out of their blinds into sitting positions and unloaded their rifles. Earlier I had asked Scott what their limits of geese were, and they could kill 5 each. They killed 10! Unfortunately there was one that got hit in the wing and was just wounded and was running through the field. One of them chased it down (which was quite amusing to watch) and then wrung it's neck. Nice. The kids were pretty excited and Emma wanted to see one up close so they brought one back for the kids to check out. Me, I was just thankful they killed 10! I'm thinking, "THANK GOD! They should only need one more flock of birds to come in and we would be done!" Yeah, well, it took FOREVER and a day for the next flock to come. In the meantime, I'm doing all I can to keep the kids under control. We were doing some math................"Gage, there are 3 guys and they can kill 5 geese each. How many geese can they kill". We were having spelling lessons and anything I could think of to keep these guys quiet. Again, the negativity starts in. "There are never going to be any geese." "Let's just go back to Tuttle." "Mom, I'm hot." I started praying for more geese to come and FAST!

I have no idea how this whole story would have changed if it had been just the 2 kids in blinds, and me sitting in the truck a half a mile away. I'm sure it would have ended much sooner than it did.

Finally, we have more geese coming in. From up in front we hear, "They're coming! Cover up! Cover up!" False alarm. Then, once again. "They're coming! Cover up! Cover up!" We have a big flock of geese come in, but instead of coming back over the top of us. They land down the hill a ways. Nice. More waiting. Joe tried to go down near where they were and get them back up, but nothing happened. Finally, the last flock came in. Well, there were more flocks, but the last flock that we needed. They killed 5 geese. THANK THE LORD! We were finally able to get out of the blinds and they had one goose that sailed off into a patch of wheat that was left unharvested (I have no idea why?) and they had to go looking for it. Joe and Nick were quick to say, "We're never going to find it." "This stuff is really thick, we're never going to find it." They were wanting to get set back up for one more goose, but Scott finally found it! THANK THE LORD. While they were down searching for this goose, another flock came in and 2 of them landed right in the decoys. This was while I was standing right next to our blinds, about 50 yards away. These things were so stupid! I was very shocked that they landed when I was standing right there! Apparently the geese are stupid when the season opens, but as they get shot at over and over, they smarten up and it is more difficult to get them to come into the decoys. I was never so glad to see geese die in my life! I was so grateful that I didn't sweat to death in that body bag out in the middle of a wheat field. The kids and I left in the truck while the guys arranged their geese on the blinds for pictures. Joe whipped out his camera and tripod to get some pictures. If I happen to see one, I will post it on my blog. The kids and I got back to the house around 8 or 8:30. Six hours out in the middle of a wheat field in 90 degree temps was a little too much for me, not to mention the kids!

The brats were good. The kids were loving having Joe and Nick at the Tuttle house while Scott cooked supper. When I could get a word in edgewise, I learned that these 2 boys will be seniors at St. Mary's high school this year, one plays soccer, the other plays football and they start school Monday morning. I guess that was their last "hurrah" of the summer. They were thrilled.

I think I have experienced my first AND LAST goose hunting adventure. When we got home, Scott says, "Stacy, I think I'll need your help having Gage and Emma with me on the duck opener." I just laughed at him and said, "Yeah, I'll bet you will!"


Kara said...

LOL! I came from a big family of hunters and used to go goose hunting each year in high school....that's been a while! It was fun back then but I would NEVER take the deserve an award! Farmers will leave patches of unharvested wheat if it is not dry enough and will come back to combine it later (especially low spots)...luckily they didn't catch you guys tromping through it! :) That stubble is brutal on bare legs! Just remember it makes for a good story you can look back on!

Emily Jennings said...

HA! Thanks for the reminder that I don't think I'll take up hunting EVER! Sounds like a crazy MAN'S idea of fun. Really!

I was talking to a highschool friend last night and we were talking about the olympics. How much we loved them, etc...and how dumb boxing is in general. Olympic boxing seems slightly more athletic, but its so strange that men love barbaric activities? I know God made them that way....