Nobody thinks about goose hunting as a “dangerous” activity. Until today I would have been right there with them, but certain events have a way of changing your tune. In the case of today’s hunt to save the tundra, while it may be a stretch to argue that I nearly avoided the reaper's touch, I can say for certain that I avoided injury, from man and beast.
Here are two tips that may save your life when chasing the white devil, or “Shikaka.”
1. Never say to the man with the dog, “you going to send him to get my goose or what?” Especially when that dog is Tank and his owner is Papa Skipper. You see, I had been very proud of a certain shot, and after gloating for a few minutes, I boasted the question. What I didn't know was that Tank had already retrieved my bird, like he did all of them. And Papa Skipper doesn’t like anyone questioning his gundog's prowess, especially not some young whippersnapper from Virginia. I’m not sure whose scowl was worse: Papa Skipper's or Tank's (it was Tank's), but both made their point. I was to shoot, conserve and shut up. They’d handle the rest.
2. When you’re told the story of a guy (Papa Skipper) getting hit by a falling goose and you have to wipe the tears from your eyes after laughing hysterically, be prepared for karma to take aim. Not 10 minutes after that very conversation, a group of snows came within range, and Papa Skipper decided to get some revenge on old Jon and popped one right above the pit. Now, I had been calling “incoming” and “heads up” to protect my companions from falling birds all morning. This instance was no different, other than the fact that I should be quicker in taking my own advise. I hollered heads up until I had to dive out of the way, nearly avoiding certain injury or worse. I stared in disbelief at the goose that almost got me as they wiped the tears from their own eyes.
The good news is the weatherman was wrong again today (imagine that). We prepared mentally to endure the pouring rain, but ended up with some light fog, less than a quarter-inch of the wet stuff and an otherwise perfect day. The flock is 42 birds fewer thanks to our efforts.