An Outdoorsman’s Journal
Hello friends, This December I was driving on the interstate near DeForest in mid-December, headed to my good friend Dick Emerson’s funeral. I had just wrote about Dick the week before as Dick and Molly Emerson are the couple that helped me become a writer, when I kept noticing literally hundreds of Canadian geese flying all over.
Dick’s funeral was in DeForest and I had a brainstorm and decided to call Seth Steinhauer, who is 33, a solid member of our group of very fun people and asked him where the heck I could hunt in this area. Seth is an arborist with Bugg Tree Care and has been an active waterfowl hunter since he was old enough to legally be a waterfowler. Seth has two Chesapeakes, Arrow who is 8 and her daughter Flower, who is 3. Seth Steinhauer is more into using a kayak than a motor which is something I have a lot of respect for.
Sunday, Dec. 18 High 25, Low 6
This would be a very interesting and fun hunt for both of us. First, Seth would be dragging a kayak loaded with decoys and I would be pulling an Otter Sled a good half mile. Next we would drag our rigs on just-thick-enough ice about 400 yards and then dogs and men would immerse themselves in water while wearing chest waders. Then we set decoys and finally we would hide in cattails next to each other and begin our hunt.
Today was opening day of the late Canada goose season and let me tell you, I made the right call when I chose Seth Steinhauer. The conditions were kind of brutal. To hunt where we were you had to travel on foot, it was somewhat dangerous. Despite the fact that we were near Madison, meaning lots of people, we did not hear another shot for our entire hunt.
Here is where things get a little interesting. We knew we were going to knock some geese out of the sky as, simply put, we were hunting the only open water in the area. We were going to let the first flock pass after we became comfortable, but that was not in the cards and Seth and I each picked out a goose and sent it to heaven. The show put on by Arrow and Flower retrieving all of these birds today was amazing. Breaking ice, swimming, climbing out of the ice, grabbing the bird, jumping back in the open water and then swimming to Seth with their mouth full of a goose would have been a great show for TV. It was darn cold, the mirror on my truck had said 6 an hour ago. The kind of cold where if a hunter falls in the water with waders, even if it’s only mid-thigh deep he or she has trouble.
So, Seth and I have been so busy that we have not even hardly had time to shoot the bull and just like that here comes another flock and I smacked one and so far we had not missed a bird. The pups fetch the goose, we sit, another flock flies by and Seth drops one and still no missing. After 10 minutes of hunting, we are down to our third and last bird that each of us can shoot as the limit is three per man. About 20 million mallards put on an aerial show for us, we waited 10 minutes, a flock flew by and neither Seth nor myself missed. After another beautiful retrieve, Seth and I took out lunches and shot the breeze while watching the goose and duck show.
When we got up to begin the journey back my chest waders were frozen like cement. On the drive home I sent my stepson Joey Dushek a picture of our six birds, and he sent a text back saying “good job now shoot four more.” Little did we know the limit had changed to five a hunter.
The following day I hunted alone and hiked out in the dark. The open water had frozen over and I only had one chance at shooting. I was hiding in some cattails on the ice, I leaned back to shoot, and as I was firing, I fell backwards through the ice. I dropped my goose, did not get another shot and all’s well that ends well.
Maybe on this hunt, Dick Emerson was helping, thanks Dick!