- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2007


“These geese don’t know how much trouble they’re in,” said my favorite Charles County farmer, Bob Greer. “They’re just as much as dead; all we need is for them to lower their landing gear, get a little closer, and we’ll do the rest.”

Greer’s son, La Plata attorney William R. Greer Jr., looked at his father, shook his head and smiled. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard dad’s routine.

Only two days before our morning hunt in Southern Maryland, the Greers and several of their friends managed to bag 11 Canada geese, hiding in a well-constructed field pit that was outfitted with corn stalk-camouflaged sliding cover doors, a heater, comfortable bench seats and all the amenities demanded by gentlemen waterfowlers.

Now we sat in the same pit and watched as the wind whipped the dense branches of cedar trees that lined a farm lane adjacent to the cornfield we were in. A bald eagle soared above, greeting the climbing sun with wonderful aerial maneuvers, obviously enjoying the rollercoaster-like ups and downs provided by powerful currents of air.

Four whitetailed deer emerged from a stand of hardwoods behind the hunting pit. They crossed the chopped corn, then vanished in another woodland margin.

But there were no geese. So we reclined on the bench seats and tested our goose calls. The elder and younger Greer sounded good enough to convince even a wise old gander that the decoys had to be the real thing because the man-made honking that emanated from the general vicinity of the plastic fakes was true and quite inviting.

My spanking-new Knight & Hale call sounded like someone had jabbed a dog with a hot fire poker. It was awful. That caterwauling soon was rectified when I loosened the lanyard wrapped around a trusted Olt 800 call. It was fine — has been for 30 years.

“Shhh,” one of the guys suddenly said. “I hear something.” Sure enough, a mile or so above us a flight of geese was head-butting the wind, nearly losing the battle, and emitting thin, barely audible honks. We began to beckon them with our calls, aware that there was little chance the strong flyers could hear us. That, however, doesn’t stop a waterfowl hunter from delivering a cacophony of goosey sounds.

We were ignored. Ditto for the next gaggle that snaked its way through the wind-blown sky from far away. Not one of them would come near us.

“As I mentioned earlier,” Bob Greer said, “these geese are as good as dead. All we need is for them is to get a little closer. It’s a minor obstacle. Why don’t we try again later this week?”

That actually was the best part. What with Maryland’s late season waterfowl rules stating that the season for geese that are considered part of the resident population (not migratory) would remain open until Feb. 15, allowing five birds a day in a hunting zone that included “that portion of Charles County west of Route 301 to the Virginia State line.” Geographically, we fall into that category.

It gives us plenty of time to plan delectable roast goose dinners because Bob Greer is right. All we need is for the birds to get close enough. Eventually, that will happen just as certain as the sun rises in the East. It does rise in the East, doesn’t it?

Incidentally, three days later Greer and a friend went back to the field without me and — you guessed it — some geese actually decoyed. Four of them were taken to the picking shed.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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