Last Friday night I boarded an Airbus A-321 with my buddy Josh Lantz for a three-hour flight home. We had spent the prior three hours loafing around McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
Our flight was running way late, which was no surprise considering our round-trip tickets were only $137 out of O’Hare. Of course, we had to tack on those pesky $55 luggage fees —both ways.
Flying cheap seems like a great idea until you actually do it. On the flight to Vegas, Josh, myself and our new flight-mate crammed into three seats that were barely big enough for three pre-teens. I weigh 250 pounds and the third guy outclassed me by a fairly large margin.
I told the flight-attendant to keep a fire extinguisher handy because “Tiny” and I may start a grease fire as our thighs rubbed together in the event of turbulence mid-flight. The last time I touched a man for that duration was, well actually, I’ve never been in physical contact with another man that long.
Why do these airlines believe that they can cram three big dudes into one row? For that matter, why does the FAA allow it?
As Josh and I boarded the flight home, I mentioned that I wanted a window seat badly. I figured I could cling to the side of the fuselage much like a gecko for some relief from the lovefest that was sure to occur. As it turned out, I was once again sandwiched between two people: A really nice, talkative drunk lady and a young fella from Mexico who was really fired up about that window. I tried to negotiate a seat swap, but alas, he would have none of it.
We were leaving the SHOT Show, which is the mothership of all things firearm related. If it has anything to do with guns, there’s a good chance you will see it at SHOT.
I was working and honestly never had more than 10 minutes to walk around, but it sure looked impressive. Yes, I did the Vegas thing a couple of nights which is exhausting — those of you who have been there understand.
Frankly, I’m not that into it so I was elated to get home to the family. I hoped to turn it around first thing Saturday morning and go hunting with my boys.
By the time I arrived home, sleep didn’t come until Saturday morning at about 6 a.m. I had only slept for a few hours when I woke up to a phone with multiple text messages from hunting buddies that were reporting a big migration of geese. Most notably, snow geese and white-fronted geese, or “specks” as hunters refer to them. I rallied.
It took the boys and I about an hour to set-up the decoys in a flooded bean field. Unfortunately, the birds had mostly stopped moving, though we did work some specks and I even called three in after shooting hours. We couldn’t shoot at them but it gave me confidence because I had just picked up a new speck call last week.
I’ve never owned a speck call or for that matter, had a reason to. That’s because until recently, white-fronted geese were so unusual in Northern Indiana that it was extremely rare to even see them, let alone call to them.
I did bag one about 10 years ago, south of La Porte. I had called a flock in with a snow goose call that worked fair to middlin’ for producing speck sounds. I’ve always kept the snow goose call handy because it’s not unusual to see few throughout the season, but again, specks have always been like unicorns.
Apparently, the speck population is blowing up just like snow geese. And, both species seem to be shifting their migration path further east each year.
Both of these species are very difficult to hunt successfully. The snows in particular require huge decoy spreads and are known for their lack of focus as far as a pattern goes, especially in comparison to the relatively predictable Canada geese so common in the United States. Many hunters avoid snows like the plague because they are so frustrating to hunt.
As it turns out, specks are freaks too. I’ve never dealt with such an odd bird. They make me mad to be honest and this week they managed to do so multiple times. Wednesday took the cake though.
I was lucky enough to be invited on a hunt to a field that was holding great numbers of geese. Trevor Draves had used up a lot of his luck this hunting season by arrowing a massive buck that scored over 200 inches, but fortunately his karma is still in good shape as hundreds of Canadas, snows and specks shared a small patch of standing soybeans he had permission to hunt.
It looked like an absolute no-brainer set-up. There was only one thing that could screw it up — the weather. We needed clouds, rain or snow and a little wind. Thankfully the forecast was very favorable so we were excited to say the least.
Long before sunrise, Trevor, his father Scott, Gavin Troche and I set a fairly modest spread of decoys including all three species. We were more focused on hiding four layout blinds and spent the majority of time dressing them with soybean stalks and grass. By the time were done the blinds were gone — perfectly blended into the unique setting.
Just after legal time a flock of specks came directly towards us. I used my new call to try and center them up but they started to flank us. I may have been able to scratch a bird or two off my left shoulder but it was a long shot. Trevor didn’t call the shot which was a wise decision.
As the sky brightened we realized the weather man had lied; clouds occasionally split to reveal blue sky and the forecasted rain never really happened. None the less, we managed to shoot ten Canada geese over the course of the morning. Perhaps more intriguing was the migration we witnessed.
I told the guys that I had never felt more like I was in the duck and goose filled skies of the Central Flyway 500 west of us right here in Northern Indiana. Waves of migrant geese streamed over headed north. More specks teased us, but never came in.
We live in an area that is in a much more active migration corridor than much of the rest of Indiana. But if you aren’t out there watching for it you probably won’t notice it. I’d guess a lot of those birds are already far to the northwest on their long journey to their tundra nesting grounds in Canada.
Maybe we’ll see them again someday.