January 26, 2014
Another goose season concluded for me today. It was a great hunt where four of us limited out on geese by 9:45am. That was a nice way to close out the season.
I spent the next day lining out all the goose decoys and cleaned them up with a soft toothbrush, removing dirt/mud/blood stains in an attempt to reveal the realistic painted and flocked body underneath the crud. I gently wrapped up my full bodied goose decoys and tucked them away for another end-of-the-season storage slumber party. They’ll be taking a long nap until next September when early goose season starts up again. The decoys served us well again this year. Each time they go out they come back just a little more worn with flecks of crud or chunks of flocking chipped off or worse a hole made from a “stray” pellet. Sometimes it’s a goose falling out of the sky that takes out one or more decoys or it’s setting up or putting decoys away under rainy and muddy conditions. Other times it’s someone else who puts them away improperly or at least a different way than the way they came. Paying a few hundred dollars for a dozen goose decoys means you want to take care of them and make them last. The decoys are the main stars of the show and their realism adds greatly to the deception of the real geese that are eye-balling them from above.
How does a goose decoy feel about it’s job…
Being a goose decoy is a thankless job. You spend months in a dark canvas bag stored in a barn on a shelf where you feel unappreciated and unwanted. Often it gets hot in the bag and yellow jackets try to build nests inside your hollow body cavity. A few months later, the mercury starts to dip and fall season comes around with cooler temperatures accompanied by rain and wind, sometimes snow. Only then are you allowed to come out and do your job. You get stacked up in a truck bed and hauled miles away from home in the dark. Strangers handle you sometimes less than tenderly and you’re pitched out of the bag onto the cold wet ground waiting to feel the warmth of the sun if it ever comes. By sunrise, you see that you aren’t alone and that there are other decoys around you. Some feeding, others standing alert while still others are resting or sleeping.
In the distance you hear geese honking and your hunting party joins in by honking back at them. All eyes are on us and our position in the field. Do we look good enough? Are we spaced out properly? Will the deceit be complete with hovering wingbeats of geese trying to land among my fellow plastic friends? One of us is rigged with a fishing line that tugs at artificial wings to add motion to the decoy spread. The circling geese above like it and they cup their wings on their final approach.
I hear the concealed hunters shout, “Take em” and shots begin to ring out from behind bushes. A number of geese are taken while a greater number fly off and away just a little bit wiser.
Wait. Something’s wrong. One of my plastic friends is suddenly on its side in the mud with its head disconnected and another has got streaks of mud on its side. Oh, I see, its from a goose that crashed into a decoy and sprayed another with mud.
Quickly, somebody come over here and fix this decoy before more geese come our way. Oh no. What is that? Why doesn’t that decoy have a face? How could that have happened…friendly fire? I wanna go back in the bag and go home to my shelf in the barn!
It also goes without saying, you need to be careful who you hunt with and that doesn’t just mean a safe partner but, a sensitive one who will treat your decoys with TLC too.