As the accompanying photo shows, a couple of days before Christmas, Canada geese were plentiful here in the southeastern portion of Pennsylvania. And along with a few of the friends I hunt these big birds alongside, we enjoyed fooling quite a few — to the point where they decoyed well enough to harvest some.
Flocks of these waterfowl circling and honking overhead is exciting enough. But when they finally decide to lock wings and plunge earthward because some good calling and realist fakes fooled them enough to overcome any wariness, the scene becomes extraordinary. The exhilaration we felt was almost indescribable.
It sure mades for happy dogs and hunters.
With an abundance of migrating birds in the area, and the thoughts of a flintlock season for deer to open the day after Christmas, there were plenty of happy thoughts running through the minds of hunters — myself included — looking forward to “holiday” hunting.
But then a strange occurrence sort of upset all the anticipated prospects as a wave of record-breaking cold weather moved over the area, changing everything.
Over all this time since Christmas passed, I’ve hunted deer twice. I’m sitting for deer at this time of year, waiting for them to come toward some open fields where I know they frequent to feed. On the two visits, there were plenty of tracks in the fields and the deer paths leading to them, but no deer. I might add that those two afternoons were the mildest ones available during the cold stretch.
But truth be told, even they were too cold for my aging frame, and a simple hour-and-a-half of sitting on each occasion still took me to the edge of my endurance.
The blast of arctic air also affected the goose hunting. Deep quarry holes in the local area where these birds roost at night – and that never seem to freeze – froze. The Schuylkill River, not too many miles away, froze over, too. Without open water to spend the night, the majority of the birds headed southward. The few that remained would make one flight in the afternoon, and they were too small in numbers and much too educated to be worth braving the coldness.
Today the weather has changed, and as I write this, it is pouring rain with temperatures in the 50s. Tomorrow night, single digits will return, along with ice and maybe a little snow.
What weather experts have termed a freak incidence of extended and extreme cold – no kidding – has sure altered my planning for hunting that was to begin directly after the day to celebrate Santa’s stopover.
I’m not complaining, mind you. I can sit by a warm woodstove watching television just as easily as the next guy. But Lord, it would still be nice to get outside at least once in a while and chase some deer with a primitive firearm, or watch some Canadas pitching into a big spread, or even kick a few brush piles hoping to score on a rabbit or two. But with this weather, I’m staying by the fire.
Of course, to my getting out of the house, my wife would agree. Silly woman – she knows nothing about hunting.