Slow start, but good times during early waterfowl seasons

The author scans the skies in search of Canada geese.

Looking to position ourselves for both geese and teal, my hunting partner and I were set to try a group of St. Mary’s River islands when we received a call the night before the opener from a friend who said his cut hay field was full of geese.

We headed out for a look. About 50-60 birds were strung out through the hay field, and some of them could see us watching them with binoculars, but they seemed unconcerned. In fact, they were so relaxed that only a few of them flew off when the landowner took a crack at a coyote that was eyeing the geese from the other side of the field.

The coyote was back with several of its friends or family members when we walked out into the field before daylight the next morning. They retreated to the woods and started howling, whether in protest or just to regroup, I’m not sure. They sure made a racket, though.

A half-hour later, ducks and shorebirds were making the racket in the ponds around the field. We could make out the sounds of mallards, wood ducks, widgeon and, yes, teal while we were waiting for geese. When shooting hours came, we let the teal party continue undisturbed and stayed in our layout blinds, waiting for geese. We were not set up to retrieve teal in a deep, brushy pond anyway.

Another hour later, three geese came in on my partner’s side. I couldn’t shoot, but he did – once, before his gun jammed. Geese 1, hunters 0.

A little while later, a second small group came in, this time on my side. I got one, but it took two shots from my double-barrel. As I went to retrieve it, I was forced to lie down in a fence row when another small group of honkers announced its arrival. My partner was able to get a couple shots from the blind, but he didn’t connect.

We saw several large flocks after that, but they headed to a neighboring field and all we could do was watch. We went home with a little goose meat.

Since then, it’s been slow. The teal moved out and the geese kept finding the neighbor’s fields to their liking. We tried the river, but warm temps really stalled the migration, it seems. There are local geese around, but not many migrants, yet, and very few ducks.

But it’s only September. It can only get better from here on out.

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