- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

ULLIN, Ill. (AP) - It had been a fairly eventful morning in the Wilson family goose pit.

A pair of gadwall already hung on the wall, and a flight of teal had created a flurry of shooting about an hour earlier. The jet-propelled teal had outrun the shot coming from the blind, but had served to get the adrenaline pumping.

And, although few shots had been fired since the unfortunate teal incident the air had been filled with flights of snow and white-fronted geese.

Yet, when Keith Wilson fired a pair of blasts into the air at about 9 a.m., it startled everyone in the pit. The startled looks turned to astonishment seconds later with the sound of two geese hitting the ground.

Just seconds earlier, Wilson had been devouring “pugs” - bluegill in the parlance of the Wilson pit. (The fried bluegill are known as pugs because live bluegill have pug noses. Catfish fiddlers are known as zippers, but that’s another story.)

Wilson’s shots had disturbed the second course of breakfast. The pugs were served following the fried biscuits - a priority most duck and goose hunters will understand.

Once everyone processed the sounds of the shots and falling geese, breakfast plates dropped as everyone looked to the sky for more birds. In the meantime, Garrett Wilson untethered Duke, his 12-year-old Lab, and sent him out to retrieve what appeared to be snow geese.

In all fairness, Duke had been well aware of what was happening. His eyes were scanning the field, looking for the fallen birds before anyone else moved.

Although in dog years, Duke was probably the oldest person in the pit, he efficiently went about his business, plucking the fallen geese from the ground and weaving his way through the gauntlet of decoys and back to the pit.

When Duke delivered the second goose to the pit, Keith took the time examine the birds, which turned out to be Ross’ geese. A Ross goose has similar coloration to the snow goose, but is generally smaller and has a shorter, stubbier bill.

And, so the hunt continued through the day, with sporadic flights of low birds interrupting meals and camaraderie.

Several times during the course of the day, dozens of snows or white-fronts seemed to zero in on the pit and circle interminably as is their modus operandi, only to abort the mission at the final moment.

The Wilsons, who have hunted together as a family for decades, noted that the birds had been following the same pattern from several days. They would appear locked in on the decoy-covered hillside, but would change their minds at the last instant.

At times it was frustrating, but never devastating. It’s just part of the experience.

In most cases, the final notes from the goose call were followed by these words: “I think I’ll have another pug.”

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Source: The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan, https://bit.ly/2kr0JKy

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, https://www.southernillinoisan.com

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