Duck…Duck… GOOSE!? Happy New Year!

First of all, sorry about the formatting.  I copied this from an email to post here and everything from the font to the formatting has been wacky and only grown wackier with my attempts to fix it.

We mostly hunt in blue bird conditions at Whistling Wings Duck Club, so wind, which tends to make the pintail less likely to circle and circle before heading elsewhere, and results in wind-weary birds becoming less wary is welcome, even when out of the wrong direction as it was yesterday.
Ten minutes before shooting time, ten sprig hung in the air 30 feet above my decoys.  Five minutes later they were back again. When it was shooting time, the pintail were nowhere to be found, but the greenwing teal were going by so fast from my left to right (not my best shot anyway) with the wind at their backs, I couldn’t even react quickly enough to rise from my seat, let alone mount my gun.  It was pretty funny, despite the frustration of failure. 

As I looked at the sky above the decoys in front of me, I heard a plop 30 yards behind me, and turned to see two drake and one hen mallard (we’ve shot one among the 200+ ducks shot at the club this year) standing on a mud island and very alert.  As I plotted how I would turn, and begin with one of the drakes, I caught something out of the corner of my eye.
For the first time on a hunting day this season, we were visited by honkers, three very large and weary ones fighting the wind, and flying more tightly (as if to present a single target) and hanging as one 15 feet above my duck decoys, and 35 yards from my blind with no space between them.

I aimed at the body (should have aimed at the head) of the leader (they presented such a tight target with still no separation between them), fired a duck load of 4’s and saw his body flinch and his feathers ruffle as the shot hit without dropping the big bird.  Fortunately for me but not so much for the wingman, it caught a couple of disabling pellets and went down.  Two more shots  failed to do enough damage, and the survivors glided away, still fighting the wind when a partner in another blind dropped one and cursed the jamming of his Benelli as the third bird left the field.

I’ve been in the club for 30 years and on two occasions I shot some snows, three one day and a single on another, so this year has been oddly goosy for me.  We have never seen specks on our club, but on opening day I shot a triple as a flock passed over me. I’ve never shot at a honker at our club until yesterday, when I finally managed that one.
The best part was seeing my little springer in a tug of war with the injured bird, making a little ground with the retrieve and then losing a little as the bird tried to swim away but could not get out of his grasp.  Eventually, while alternately pulling and pushing it, he was finally able to get back to the blind and drag the still flailing bird to me for its demise.
All things considered, I think Jack (the 38 pound springer) did the better job on the 12 and 3/4 pound honker.  With duck loads, I should have had the presence of mind to concentrate on head/neck shots in that wind and at that distance, and with some luck would have bagged the entire family.

On the other hand, and had I been successful, I’m not sure what I wanted or would have done with three honkers. Like the specks, I’d have shared them with my partners.  I’m only now giving thought to how I am going to cook the one that I have, though I’m leaning toward steaking one breast lobe and using the other for tamales and/or kung pao goose.  The remaining parts might see the soup pot.


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