By Matt Young
It was a sight you might witness only in Saskatchewan: a vortex of geese descending on a decoy spread like a feathered tornado, silhouetted against a glowing prairie dawn. Unfortunately for Chad Belding and me, we watched this spectacle from a distance rather than from inside our layout blinds. The first wave of Canada geese had left their roost earlier than expected and taken us by surprise as we returned on foot from parking the vehicles by a distant farmstead. Our hunting partners, Fred Zink and Jim Alexander, held their fire at first, waiting for us to return, but as more and more geese landed in the decoys, they eventually had enough. From our hilltop vantage point, we had a panoramic view as they flipped back the canopies of their Powerhunter blinds and fired a quick volley of muffled shots as hundreds of geese flared around them.
Zink and Alexander had just finished gathering up the fallen birds when Belding and I finally reached the decoys, out of breath after jogging across several football field lengths of pea stubble. “That was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen,” Alexander said, hefting a pair of Canadas that he had just bagged. “Geese were walking less than five feet from my blind.”
More birds left their roost on a nearby glacial lake, sending us running to our layout blinds camouflaged with dried mud and pea stalks. Surrounding us were several dozen fully flocked Canada, snow, and white-fronted goose decoys, wobbling gently in the breeze on motion stakes. With our decoys positioned along a high ridge overlooking the lake, the geese could clearly see our spread in the distance as they left the water.
A past world open goose calling champion and product development director for Avery Outdoors, Zink naturally assumed the role of chief guide and caller. He worked approaching geese with greeting calls, double clucks, and moans, while Belding, an Avery pro-staffer who has several state and regional calling titles to his credit, accompanied him with softer clucks and contented feeding murmur. A clamoring flock of more than two-dozen honkers responded to their calling and winged swiftly across the field toward our decoys. Flying just above the rolling terrain, the geese briefly disappeared from view as they dipped below a rise beyond the perimeter of the spread. Moments later, the big birds cleared the top of the ridge and loomed over the decoys, hovering for space to land among the lifelike impostors. The birds were so close that I briefly made eye contact with a startled goose when I sat up to shoot. Firing at point-blank range, we dispatched several of the birds within spitting distance of our blinds.