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It's Raining Geese!  at Cabela's

It's Raining Geese!

Author: Michael Faw

If you are looking for some phenomenal hunting, migrate north this year.

The use of pit blinds is a great way to stay concealed.

The dark mass on the horizon grew larger and what first appeared to be a cloud soon transformed into a wildly flapping and loudly honking flock of geese. The swarm of birds turned and headed our way thanks to some sweet coaxing and lively calling by our guide.

Dave Draper, Cabela's Communications Specialist, was huddled next to me in the ground pit. We were trembling like excited Labs as the birds flew closer. Soon the geese's honking drone became deafening and then the door bell rang. Instead of this being a dream, it was hot in-the-field action and the door bell was for real. It was installed in the back of the blind and was the method the outfitter used to signal hunters hunkered in pit blinds to slide back the doors and start slinging steel shot. David and I quickly obliged the bell and came out shooting.

After the first shots, geese began falling. In a few seconds our group of eight hunters had discharged a lot of steel. We were greeted with geese that rained from the sky. The giant Canada geese hit the ground with a noticeable ground-shaking thud.

After a quick prance to retrieve our geese, David and I returned to the blinds, shut the doors and hunkered in. Like Pavlov's dogs, we were again waiting for the door bell.

During the following days our group saw many birds flying in every direction. With so many flocks, so many geese, and so much movement, it was hard for us to pattern the wandering birds.

What the area needed was more hunters! And the Rochester, Minnesota, region has room for more hunters. The region is known for having numerous giant Canada geese. So many, in fact, that the city council recently spent money to study the local nuisance geese that have overrun parks and some area farms.

David Draper of Cabela's with a Canadian Goose.

Gaining Hunting Ground
Our ticket to enter those pit blinds was a call to G&R Outfitters. They used a backhoe to dig the blinds that had comfortable benches, wooden walls and one-hand pull doors that slid back. We blackened the ground around the setup with hundreds of goose shell decoys.

While much of the area surrounding Rochester is still agricultural farm fields, some areas are wildlife refuges and some areas are falling under the path of urban sprawl. The best way to gain access for a few days is to use an outfitter to open doors. If you tried to hunt this area on your own you might spend more time hunting a place to hunt than actually hunting. Some of the farmers work in town during the day to support their farming operation and can be difficult to contact.

More Northern Exposure
The advantage to heading north to hunt geese and waterfowl is obvious. There are more birds in a flock and the seasons open earlier in some areas. By the time the migratory birds reach southern areas of the U.S.-if they do at all-they are more wary and keen to the ways of hunters. If you like goose hunting, then you owe it yourself to at least once try hitting them near their northern grounds. The sights and sounds will lure you back again.

I've noticed that the farther north you trek, the more geese in a flock, and the more exciting the sights and sounds can be. While hunting in Minnesota was great, I wanted to experience some truley Canadian, Canada goose hunting. If you are considering meeting Canada geese on their own turf, then Edmonton could be the place for you. While hunting there with U.S.-based Sean Mann, I saw so many flocks of geese in the sky that they truly blocked the sun out. Those flocks of Canada and snow geese, with numerous ducks peppered into the mix, stretched as far as the eye could see. The sight of so many geese and ducks was breathtaking-and deafening-when they came in to the decoys.

Sometimes I didn't push the doors open on the Ambush blind or raise my Mossberg shotgun because I was just too mesmerized by so many geese. If ever there was a chance to experience the tales I've read about the yesteryear of waterfowling when birds were bountiful, this was the time and the place. I saw more geese and ducks in a day than I had seen in a lifetime.

A professional guide and call maker, Sean lured the geese so close that I hit one with the blind's pop-up door as it was landing on me. His calls of "Giver"-the unique waterfowling cry of hunters in Canada when it's time to shoot-added spice to the experience.

The only downside of hunting around Edmonton will be that you'll understand more about a massive waterfowl migration and never look at a small "V" of geese with the same enthusiasm. Go north and "Giver" a try!

Gear for Geese
If you go to Rochester to hunt, then you're close to the Owatonna, Minnesota, Cabela's store. This is the region's largest attraction and a great place to find more hunting gear, see mounted big game animals from around the world-including a massive life-sized elephant-and gather bargains in the Bargain Cave. You'd have to agree that the next best thing to hunting is buying hunting gear, and this is a showcase place to gear up! The store is located on Hwy. 35 on the western edge of Owatonna.
For Retail Store information click here.

Clothing
Today's goose hunters can stay in the field and hunt longer thanks to modern clothing technology. Even in Minnesota, the nation's ice box, our group stayed warm and endured an aggressive cold snap thanks to Cabela's Gore-Tex Waterfowl Systems and insulated gloves. I could easily tug the trigger on my Browning 3.5-inch Gold shotgun and this clothing made hunting much more comfortable than some of my earlier northland hunting experiences (it was hard to put the bead on geese because of body shivering). In addition to warm clothing, if you go there after mid-November be sure to pack snow camouflage.

To keep your ears and feet warm, wear a cap and insulated boots. When it comes to keeping your toes toasty warm, the new Grabber Mycoal Warmers -similar to air-activated handwarmers-might help you stay more comfortable.

Binoculars
Another thing that helped us focus on the action in Rochester's sprawling farmland and rolling hills was 8X42 Nikon binoculars. We used them to spot geese and track their movement more accurately. Along with boxes of Winchester Supreme steel shot and a thermos, the binoculars were stuffed inside a Cabela's Advantage camouflaged Ultimate Hunting Bag with a hard shell bottom. I like to think of this shooting bag as the waterfowler's briefcase. Don't go afield without it.






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