ERIE — The first group of Canada geese, six of them, arrived just past legal shooting time, winging in from the south of us, but they barely gave our decoys, standing in a wheat field bordered by soybeans, a look. They were out of there before they even approached shooting range.
Joe Robison, a veteran waterfowl hunter and the ram-rod on this opening morning hunt says the first flight of the day often tells you how things are going to go. This was not a good sign.
A short while later, a single came in from the same direction, but this one hooked and headed straight to us. Robison motioned for me to take the shot, but being vertically challenged and sitting on a low stool in the blind, I hadn’t even seen it. I said so.
“Just shoot it,” he said.
I stood up and did. Less than 30 minutes into the 2013 waterfowl season, we were in the plus column. That’s better.
But it turned out to be the exception, not the rule. A half hour later, a high-flying flight of geese approached from the distance. They dropped altitude as they arrived, but never locked their wings. Robison announced that we were going to have to take them as they passed and when they got as close as they were going to — shootable, but not as optimum range – Robison called “Take ‘em.”
I stood up, picked out a bird and fired, saw that I’d rocked it but hadn’t hit it hard enough, then squeezed off two more rounds, to no discernible effect. Everyone else shot, too. One goose dropped stone dead in the field and another sailed won well into the beans.
“What kind of shooting was that?” Robison asked.
I had no excuse. Neither did Ronnie Levitan, a veteran charter boat skipper who was seated next to me. He’d had the same experience as I did, he said; he’d rocked one, and then missed.