BOWMAN: There’s no ducking these geese
BY DALE BOWMAN firstname.lastname@example.org February 1, 2013 9:53AM
Guide Jeff Norris flags a flock of Canada geese under the watchful eye of a decoy Friday in the final week of hunting for Canada geese in the north zone. | Dale Bowman~For Sun-Times Media
The wing beats of Canada geese, slow whoosh after slow whoosh, passed low enough over the goose pit to be heard plainly as I kept my head down so my glasses wouldn’t spook the birds.
‘‘Let them pass one time,’’ guide Jeff Norris said.
That group didn’t circle back. Instead, the birds kept on toward the ‘‘Lotto Field.’’
It didn’t matter. We limited out by late morning while hunting a cornfield pit on the fringe of the western suburbs.
The action started even as we set up early Friday in warmth more apt for hunting doves than geese. Just after Norris dropped us off, geese closed in on the decoys.
Steve Behrends, a goose hunter from Naperville, nicely called the birds in. They swung past one side. The end hunter — one of the few other hunters working for a major Chicago newspaper — cleanly dropped one.
‘‘One for the fourth estate,’’ he said.
It’s not news that the suburbs have evolved into a mecca for goose hunting. All five of us had hunted geese in southern Illinois, but geese have been short-stopping around Chicago for more than a decade because of a shift in climate and farming techniques.
This winter is no exception, despite our utter lack of winter.
Norris called in smaller groupings quickly enough that the others all limited out by about 10 a.m. It took me another half-hour to drop my second goose.
Nobody seemed to mind the extra time in the pit, which is called ‘‘Moe’’ after the leader of the Three Stooges. There was the usual male banter (even raunchier than you might think) mixed with serious talk about life, politics, outdoors and guns.
It was a wonder to watch the flocks pour into the ‘‘Lotto Field,’’ an unhunted field acting like a sanctuary among Norris’ pits. During the course of the morning, we estimated more than a 1,000 geese landed there.
Even more wonderful — and odder in this odd winter — were the hundreds of ducks, primarily mallards, circling, passing and buzzing the goose decoys. At some point, all of five us made quacking noises, like a bunch of kids on a school trip to Lincoln Park Zoo.
Even as we stashed gear, guns and geese in Norris’ truck, more geese swept over.
It was time.
Canada goose season ends Thursday in the north zone. Norris can be reached at (630) 264-1802 or at email@example.com.
Some over-the-counter permits remain for the second part of late-season antlerless and CWD deer seasons Friday through Sunday. . . . Archery deer and turkey seasons end Sunday.
In the lull between the two busiest weeks for outdoors shows is the Bedford Sales Open House (bedford-sales.com), which runs Friday through Sunday in Morris. David Dudley and Jim Saric are the headliners. Forrest L. Wood appears Saturday.
Online registration for the Wild Things conference, the biennial gathering on Chicago nature Feb. 2 at UIC, ends Sunday. Go to habitatproject.org/WildThings2013/index.html.
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