- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 5, 2003

With the Potomac River and the adjacent Chesapeake Bay behind our backs and a broad belt of farm fields before us, it was only natural to wonder when the geese might arrive. The lay of the land and the water provided the perfect invitation for the visitors from the north, but they were nowhere to be seen, or heard.
"There you go worrying again, but keep your britches on they'll be here," said Eddie Davis, spring, summer and autumn charter boat captain and winter goose hunting guide.
You have to know the ebullient Davis to fully appreciate him. When he says the big Canadas will make an appearance on a magnificent family-owned waterfront property in St. Mary's County not all that far from Point Lookout you might as well not say a word.
Skies were heavily overcast; sleet and rain had been mentioned in one local forecast. All of it should combine for hungry geese to drop into the field to gorge themselves on remnant sprouts of green, mute reminders of long gone winter-wheat days.
"They've been flying into this field every morning between 8 and 11," said Davis, an assortment of goose calls dangling on a lanyard from his neck. "What I don't understand is that a hunter can shoot only one goose per day. During these times, very few people even bother to go goose hunting. It wouldn't hurt the overall population one bit if we were allowed to take at least two per day."
To add a little emphasis, Davis said, in typical St. Mary's County fashion, "'Deed it wouldn't."
His pronouncements temporarily at an end, Davis scoured the skies with sharp eyes, the two of us perfectly concealed in a comfortable above-ground blind. Suddenly, he lowered his head and quietly said, "Look to your left. Four of 'em. There they are."
Davis began to blow long, lone wailing sounds on a finely tuned call, constantly watching the geese that were still a fair distance off over the middle of the Potomac, halfway between the Maryland and Virginia shores. They apparently had been in the water or on the ground in Virginia's Northern Neck, somewhere in Westmoreland County.
Ho-ooonk, Ho-ooonk, the call blasted out. Then Davis muttered, "OK, they're turnin'. Get ready, they're turnin'."
Indeed, the four large birds softly banked to the right and, wings still rhythmically beating, looked as if they took dead aim at our blind and the 30 or 40 plastic decoys that beckoned.
"They've set their wings," Davis announced. "Let's just wait and not call any more." The path of his moving eyes was an easy indicator of the location of the geese.
"Ready?" he asked. "Take the first one out in front."
The quartet of geese was still 50-odd feet off the ground when I lifted my shotgun.
And just like that I had a legal limit of goose while Davis chose not to shoot.
"In the old days, we'd have had all four of them. I guess I'll go ahead and go for one myself on the next go-around," said the man who during warmer months can find fish that even elude an electronic sounder he's that good.
The two of us watched the tree line to the side of the box blind, occasionally blowing on our calls when distant geese could be seen beneath an ever-threatening sky.
"Holy cow," said Davis without warning. "Look at that. We have 40 or more coming in with their wings cupped. Every one of them wants to land in our decoys."
He let the wary flock see him and pass, preferring instead to wait for smaller groups of three or four geese. He knew that If he had shot at the large gaggle of birds, all but one would remember his field from that moment on and shun it. A smaller group came along while I fumbled for my camera, cursing an obstinate zipper on the bag, but Davis talked three geese "down," gently blowing a feeding cluck and chatter with a smaller call. As they came within shotgun range, he, too, made sure there'd be a delectable goose dinner on the table that night.
For all purposes, we were finished. We emptied the shells from our guns, then sat in the blind watching more geese flying here and there, sometimes landing in front of us, obviously aware that serious weather changes were about to take place. These large gaggles intended to feed while there was time to do so, and Davis and I enjoyed the sight of the birds as they tumbled and shook the wind from their wings, nearly bumping into one another, descending to the feeding grounds.
There are nearly three weeks left for a Southern Maryland-style goose hunt. Davis charges $50 per hunter, and to my way of thinking just being there, watching large flights of Canadas was worth every nickel of it. The shooting was an added bonus.
Of course, you must have a Maryland license, also a state and federal waterfowl stamp, plus a few heavy-duty steel shot loads for your shotgun. That's it. Call him at 301/872-5871.
Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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