Goose hunting by ear

RENO COUNTY – This morning we had thousands of geese within 50 yards.

Unfortunately we could only see 30 yards most of the time.

It’s seldom good when foggy conditions and calm winds mix with waterfowl hunting.

A rare sight, a successful goose hunter field in Monday morning's fog.

A rare sight, a successful goose hunter afield in Monday morning's fog.

So it went for about a dozen writers gathered in Great Bend for an Outdoor Writers of Kansas meeting. Some sat amid a blanket of gray on Cheyenne Bottoms and only saw a dozen or so ducks all morning.

I was part of a group of six who spent a pre-dawn hour setting nearly 200 full-bodied goose decoys on a field of harvested corn that’s also growing a new crop of wheat.

Guide Brad Vonfeldt, Great Flyway Adventures, and his crew had scouted the birds wonderfully. As they predicted they started coming in a seemingly endless procession about 7 a.m.

For three hours we listened to birds passing close overhead and caught occasional glimpses of Canada and white-fronted geese ghosting through the fog.

Worse than the fog that shielded our spread from their eyes was the lack of a decent breeze. No wind means birds have to circle repeatedly to drop altitude.

Give a goose more than two or three trips over the decoys and it’ll eventually see something is wrong.

We ended with three small Canadas and one whitefront before loading the decoys back into Vonfeldt’s long trailer.

About the time we finished and most of the hunters were gone the fog lifted a little. We watched as three or four bunches of geese passed overhead, all within easy shotgun range.

All we could do was laugh aloud and lament on the frustrations of hunting geese in the fog and calm.