By Steve Galea
A lot has been written about man’s inhumanity to man, but frankly I think all those writers and philosophers have missed out on the one cruelty that makes all others pale in comparison.
I’m talking about inviting another hunter goose hunting.
I mean, yes, my friend Don meant well. For in theory, goose hunting is one of those outdoors activities everyone loves.
OK, when I say everyone, I’m exaggerating a little. I know five people tops who love goose hunting, and three of them are congenital liars.
By the way, it’s not actually the goose hunting part that people dislike.
For if you like wing shooting and collecting wild geese for the freezer, goose hunting is pretty well the only game in town.
No, the inhumane part is getting up at 4 a.m. Voluntarily. Just to sit at the edge of a pond or farm field and wait in the dark.
Now I understand that a lot of people get up at 4 a.m. every day. But I’d bet goose hunters are the only people who get up at 4 a.m. without financial incentive. In fact, most goose hunters end up spending money for the privilege.
Why get up at 4 a.m. you ask?
For one thing you need get up, get dressed, load your gear, drive a bit to get to the place you are hunting, then take an ATV to the goose blind at the pond or in the fields, then set up a few dozen goose decoys and wait. And wait some more.
Wait is the operative word. First, you must wait until legal shooting light, which is 6:18 a.m. opening day here. Then you can uncase your gun, load it up, blow on your goose call, and wait some more.
To no avail.
In a perfect world you would fall asleep during the times of inaction. But so long as your hunting partner has a new goose call, it is not a perfect world.
So, since you are up anyways, you need to scan the skies and listen for the telltale calls of approaching Canada geese – which sound nothing like the calling that woke you up. Between these things, you fight off the urge to fall asleep right where you are sitting, because you know that the second you do that, the geese will fly by at point blank range and only honk on the way out, just to wake you.
So, you get into the rhythm of the hunt. Which is, open your eyes, fight to keep them open, doze off, wake up to your hunting buddy’s goose call rendition of swan lake. Then repeat.
By about 7:30, geese are in the sky everywhere and calling. And what they are saying is, “Don’t land on that pond.”
Also, when you look up at high flocks, you wonder when they started flying in the middle-finger formation. By about 8:30, you start to wonder why you got up so early.
But then you and your buddy rationalize all your actions: you tell each other you needed time to set up the decoys. You needed time to get set up. You needed time to settle in. You needed time to camouflage your blind. You finally convince yourself that leaving the house at 4 am was the only smart thing to do if you wanted to get shots at geese.
Then you just wait.
Then they arrive, like clockwork, at 9:30.
And wake you up again.