So Tuesday was my first real day of hunting this season and I got after it. Up way too late Monday night rigging up goose decoys and packing gear, I woke up with about 2 hours of sleep at 5:30 am on Tuesday. Powered by a big breakfast and an ample supply of caffeine, I threw my waders on, bundled up, and drove 20 minutes to the marsh. I lugged in 8 full-size goose floater decoys in my small jet sled. The “trail” I took to the back of the marsh was an overgrown two-track which wasn’t too bad to get down. However, I quickly realized that I had 2 too many decoys in my sled and had to stop every hundred yards and keep them all from falling out. Getting to the marsh, I carefully waded in checking the depth constantly with a wading staff. This was my first time in this pond and at 40 degrees I was not eager to get water in my waders. As I set my decoys up, a flock of geese flew right over me. I quickly finished and got in position in the tall reeds next to the pond. Sometimes, natural cover on the shoreline beats any blind you could have.
Within 30 minutes I heard the first honks in the air and noticed a small group of geese flying in the distance. Ripping some [awful sounding] calls, I watched in vain as they got further and further away. This pattern repeated several times over the morning. Eventually, a lone Canada goose flew right at my setup at about 55 yards in the air. I readied myself, took aim, and fired 3 shots, missing it, unfortunately. A few more groups of geese flew near me, but I was unable to get them to commit to come in. On a positive note, by the end of the morning, I did get to the point where I could make a serviceable honk from my call. Hooray for the small victories! Around 11 am with the temperature heating up and no more geese in sight, I called it a day.
Stopping home for lunch with my lovely wife, I replaced my lost calories from the morning and refueled on caffeine. The temperature had reached the mid-70s so I changed into some lighter gear and loaded up my new whitetail pack with gear to go out and look for squirrels. There are two public land spots I usually hunt near me. One of them is easy to access, has plenty of trails, and lots of squirrels. The other is thick, enormous in acreage, and only has squirrels in several sections. It does, however, usually have a couple of rabbits running around. While eager to bag some small game, I was more interested in really testing this new pack before deer season starts, so I chose the second property.
The property was much more overgrown than I had remembered. Most of the grass was at least knee height and the only visible trails were those that deer had beaten down with their hooves over the summer. I was able to get through about 2 miles towards the forest where I expected there to be squirrels, however, after a 50-yard crawl through thorns I ultimately found no way to get through to the other side. With the day winding down and fatigue setting in, I pushed my way back through to my car. The pack held up well and I will be posting a video review of it soon.
All in all, for a day that did not end up with me getting any game, It was a great opening to hunting season for me. The feeling of seeing the marsh come alive in the morning, and the subsequent beauty of the large grassland undisturbed since last fall were awesome. I did 5 miles of tough hiking with weight on my back, saw a good amount of geese, and picked up a valuable piece of intel for deer season: I need to bring a machete to hack out a trail when hunting the piece of grassland.