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The Big Splash

Shooting geese over water requires attention to detail
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  • photo by Avery Outdoors
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by Gary Koehler

One of the most memorable open-water hunts I ever participated in occurred many years ago on Lake Senachwine, a historic Illinois River backwater. We had a successful morning duck shoot and were debating departure in order to catch the Bears game on television later that afternoon.

Longtime friend Paul Gillmann stood up to stretch, looked out over the back of the stake blind, and spotted a half-dozen Canada geese flying north to south somewhere between us and the hamlet of Putnam approximately two miles away. The birds were but flecks in the sky.

Gillmann dug into his blind bag, yanked out his trusty P.S. Olt goose call, and went to work on the far-flung Canadas. The third member of our group, Dave Moncrief, got up to take a peek. "Too far," he said. "No way they'll come all the way out here."

Undeterred, Gillmann cranked up his goose music. The small flock appeared to bend. And then they turned. These Canadas looked to be bound for the lake and our somewhat motley spread of two dozen floating goose decoys.

"You're not going to get those geese out here," Moncrief said before casing his gun and crawling into the boat hide to stow his gear.

But the geese remained on track. Gillmann's face was turning red. He took a breath and then continued his solo. My goose call, for what it was worth, was at home. All the pressure was on the maestro.

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