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Banding Together for Waterfowl

High Desert Waterfowling

A Nevada duck and goose hunt
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By Gary Koehler

The hot news at Elmer Bull’s house is that new birds moved into Mason Valley earlier in the week. This is indeed cause for excitement to members of the Yerington Ducks Unlimited committee, who have gathered for a social hour and are scattered throughout the dining and living rooms. By the look of the duck gumbo pot, no one will leave hungry.

Gunning in this region has been slow. And while it is only early December, with much of the season yet to come, the outlook is not bright. The second straight dry year in northern Nevada resulted in little mountain snowmelt runoff and a dearth of ducks and geese.

So when Charlie Booth reports that up to 5,000 fresh-faced western Canada geese had been spotted two days ago, spirits elevate a couple of notches.

“I can’t say exactly how many, or where they all are,” Booth says, “but we’ve got some new ones here now anyway. It ought to be a good weekend.”

The next morning dawns at a frosty 20 degrees, so setting out the 30 full-body Canada goose decoys in the picked cornfield is actually welcome labor. Wayne Bull, Elmer’s son, directs the placement, splitting the faux flock into two nearly equal groups about 20 yards apart. The space in between will serve as the designated landing zone. We hope.

“It’ll probably be a while before the geese fly off the roost,” Wayne says. “They sit on a pond at an old mine site at night. When they’re ready to come out to eat, we’ll be waiting for them.”

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