We climbed into our blinds to get settled. We each peered at the other to double check for any mistakes that would flare geese.
I drew my old flute-style Lohman walnut goose call to my lips and uttered a lonesome Woooork, woouurk-wooouuurk.
“Listen,” my buddy said sharply. “Geese to the west.”
“Good calling, huh?” I jabbed back.
The situation looked good as the two of us honked to the approaching flock.
The giant panda-colored birds worked the outer edges of the decoys, with only a couple of birds swinging within 30 yards. We held our fire hoping for closer shots. The flock of 200 birds circled a half dozen more times, teasing us relentlessly with each pass. Our goose hunters’ mentality told us that the next pass would be the one.
I clinched my shotgun tightly as the flock swung to the east, swung south and looped to the north flying into the wind and straight to our decoy spread.
“This looks good,” my buddy whispered.
Just as the big birds were about to wing into range, they hooked to the west, turned south and immediately began going down on the far end of the field.
Our hearts sank.
We knew it would be the only flight of geese for the afternoon.
As soon as the geese all settled into feeding mode my hunting partner began chattering.
“I really want a Christmas goose,” he began. “Let’s sneak up on them and get a couple, OK?”
“We can’t sneak up on 200 hundred geese feeding in a field,” I retorted. “That is 400 hundred eyes watching for danger. We don’t stand a chance.”
“Well, how many geese do you have now, Cooper?” My partner whispered sarcastically. “Follow me,” he said.
I had heard those words in my military days, and it never turned out good. My partner had been in the military at one time, too. He cradled his shotgun across his arms and began the perfect low crawl down a row of corn stubble.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“About 100 yards back there is a low drainage ditch that we can slide into,” he said. “It will lead us to the major drainage ditch on the south side of the farm. We can easily maneuver up it. That will put us within shooting distance of the geese.”
We paused every few seconds to check on the state of the goose flock. They eagerly fed on the waste corn and were unaware of our presence. We gained ground quickly simply by staying low and utilizing the scant cover.
An hour later we lay just over the ditch bank from 200 feeding Canada geese. Sweaty and exhausted, we took a short break.
We peered through the tall grass to get a fix on the situation. We could hear the guttural growls of geese as they competed for food. The closest birds waddled less than 15 yards away.
Seconds later, four Canada geese lay flopping on the ground. Our well-executed mission had worked, and we would enjoy a tasty goose dinner for Christmas.
Crawling over rough terrain is difficult at best. After years of experience, I have found that knee pads help prevent cuts and bruises. Most importantly, they reduce the pain from rocks and sticks significantly.
Being in decent shape also aids the process. Struggling with gear and exerting lots of energy leads to profuse sweating as well. Carry a small pack to store extra clothing — it makes the crawling trip easier and certainly more comfortable. Clothing layers can be replaced after the crawl.
Pack as little gear as possible. That’s fundamental to crawling success.
A small pack should include a bottle of water and a snack bar or two, because the sneak attack method can be time consuming. As goose hunting buddy Bill Cobb of Missouri once said to me after I complained about his three-hour approach to 20,000 snow geese, “What else do you have to do right now, Cooper?”
Carry your shotgun and only as many shells as you will need for one volley and chasing cripples. Shells are very heavy and you will suffer from the weight on long crawls.
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