Heat wave warriors: Pennsylvania goose hunters brave muggy conditions on first day of season
This was a first for me. Rising early on the first day of September to become fully awake with the aid of a cool blast from the air conditioner.
This was the initial morning of the Pennsylvania resident Canada goose season, and I should have been bouncing from the coffee pot to the downstairs “hunting” room to dress quickly, grab the shotgun, shells and goose calls, and eagerly meet-up with two companions at a nearby farm.
Instead I sat for 20 minutes allowing the cool breeze of conditioned air be my morning brew.
When I met my two friends, they were in their newest form of outdoor attire, short-sleeved camo shirts and darkish shorts. They were slow moving, certainly burdened by the heat and humidity. Only Ammo – one of my friend’s chocolate lab – seemed eager and happy to be running around in the warm darkness of a huge cropped hay field.
Complaining about the weather, we spread out 29 decoys from the back of a pickup, and made some little sitting spots against a few small patches of high grass at the field’s edge that the farmer’s mower had missed. On either side of the hay field were soy bean fields, and beyond them standing corn.
A week of scouting had shown some birds in the area, but every day they were watched the geese were seen heading to another field of grasses to feed, one we could not hunt. Our hope was that we could interest a few of those birds to come to a new field by means of our decoys and calling as they moved from their roost to their frequent food spot.
Morning light came with haze. The humid air fogged my glasses, but advanced age requires my wearing of them, so it merely became another burden of a “hellish hot” morning.
At about 6:30 a.m. the unmistakable sound of honkers came from behind us. The conditions were forgotten as we laid our sparsely covered bodies against the higher grass. We called and they came. They pitched right to the decoys, nine of them. We killed five.
I’d like you to believe it was some magical calling on my part that made the remaining four birds return, but it probably happened because they were new of this year and wanted to return to their brethren that remained behind. Whatever the reason, they too stayed with us upon their revisit.
Other flocks came, but they passed and went to their favorite feeding place, so we ended the hunt by 8 o’clock.
Now the breasts of those resident fowl already soak in a solution of brine salts and water. They will next be marinated in a spicy mixture of various sauces, juices and herbs, and then slowly smoked to become an amazing tasty testament to the undeniable passion of three goose hunters who would not yield to record heat.