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SHOTGUNS ARE A LOVE, AND SHOTGUNNING IS AN ART

The Double Gun Journal: Tenth Anniversary Issue

The Double Gun Journal: Tenth Anniversary Issue.

A Skyfall of Geese

 

“They Burst the Air With Sound and Glory; A Canada Goose is a Sky Full of Dreams” – Michael Patrick McCarty

 

 

A Very Good Day of Goose Hunting

 

 

A Small Group Of Geese Pass Overhead Below a Deep Blue Sky. Photo by Doug Brown licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Photo By Doug Brown

 

 

Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around long, broken-down rows of recently picked corn, their remnant tassels  chattering nervously in the brisk autumn wind coming hard off of the Chesapeake Bay.  We hunted geese there from pit blinds dug from the rich, black earth, surrounded by rafts of decoys as we peered hopefully into fast approaching storm.

Waterfowl hunting, and especially goose hunting, is the high art of the gunning world. It requires dedication, intimate knowledge of the game at hand, and specialized skills acquired and honed over a long period of time. It is generational expertise not easily attained, most often passed down from close family or good friends.

To be successful a hunter must be able to read the weather and the lay of the land, and place oneself if even for a moment in the eyes of a gander. One must present the perfect setup of form and function, in order to lure even the most gullible birds.

You must speak their language too, for one wrong note can spoil the day. Patience, above all, is key, even when standing in ice-cold water up to your knees while trying to slow down the incessant chattering of your teeth.

Bring it on, you say, all if it, for in the end there is nothing in the realm of mortals to match the thrill of cupped wings over the spread, sliding and swirling down over the gun as you tell yourself to stay calm and focus on a single bird.

Impossibly large, and bold, a canada goose has a way of unsettling even the most practiced sportsman among us, Chaos reigns, and it is a rare gunner that can stay composed under a full gaggle of decoying geese. Perhaps I can do just that, next time…

I can hear them now, honking and clawing, forever upwards towards the promise of a limitless, blue sky.

With luck, and blessings, you can see them too.

 

“Against the bright, luminous sky one sees just after sunset on clear, cold days the geese were etched, flock upon following flock. Those farthest away bore on with steadily beating pinions, the nearer birds beginning their glide, great wings cupped. It was beautiful beyond speech, almost heartaching to behold, and suddenly Carl was aware of the gun slanted back across his curved arm, and without reason (but with a certain knowing), he saw that the gun gave the sight a greater beauty, for it was his hunter’s soul that transfixed him at the sight of the living splendor overhead.” – Kenneth Otterson, Last Casts & Stolen Hunts, 1993

 

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Here are a few photos from my hunt this fall in Eastern Colorado. As you can see, it was a very, very good day of goose hunting, and I wish you all, just one day, at least one day, like this too.

 

 

A Large Trailer Capable of Holding 400 Full Bodied Taxidermy Goose Decoys On A Hunting Trip Near Greeley, Colorado
It Takes a Large Trailer to Haul 400 Taxidermy Decoys

 

 

A Close-up of Taxidermy Stuffed Canada Goose Decoys, Set Up Around On Pit Blind On Hunting Trip Near Greeley, Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Almost Too Real!

 

 

A Hunting Guide Examines a Large Spread of Canada Goose Decoys In Recently Picked Corn Field In Front Of a Rising Sun. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty
Checking The Spread

 

 

A Canada Goose Kite Hunting Decoy, Tethered Above a Goose Pit Blind On A Hunting Trip In Northern Colorado. Photograph by Michael Patrick McCarty
Flagging Them In with a Kite

 

 

A Large Flock of Canada Geese Circle Above The Decoys From A Pit Blind in Northern Colorado Near Greeley.
A Goose Hunter’s Dream. Photo by Rocky Tschappat

 

 

A Hunter Brings In an Armfull of Canada Geese To The Blind On A Hunting Trip Near Greeley, Colorado. Photograph By Michael Patrick McCarty
Bringing In The Geese

 

 

Winner Winner, Canada Goose Dinner. Hunters Pose Behind A Limit Of Canada Geese, Harvested In A Cornfield Near Greeley, Colorado.
A Fine Day Of Gunning

 

By Michael Patrick McCarty

 

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“As long as there is such a thing as a wild goose, I leave them the meaning of freedom. As long as there is such a thing as a cock pheasant, I leave them the meaning of beauty. As long as there is such a thing as a hunting dog, I leave them the meaning of loyalty. As long as there is such a thing as a man’s own gun and a place to walk free with it, I leave them the feeling of responsibility. This is part of what I believe I have given them when I have given them their first gun”. Gene Hill, from A Hunter’s Fireside Book, 1972

 

We Can Recommend:

 

Rites of Passage – A Boy’s First Goose

Post In Progress

 

A Vintage Still-Life Photograph Of a Canada Goose And A Remington 1100 12 Gauge Shotgun; Against The Concrete Blocks Of An Old Grain Silo. Circa 1971. Photo By Michael Patrick McCarty
First Goose, And a Favorite Remington 1100 Shotgun, Circa 1971

There are many “firsts” in the life of a hunter. Who can forget their first BB gun, a first bow & arrow, or the satisfying heft of that first box of shotgun shells of their very own.

And then there is the game to pursue. I cut my teeth on English Sparrows and Starlings, before graduating to a cadre of overeducated pigeons in our old dairy barn.

Soon I became fairly good at thinning out our local rabbit and squirrel population, with thoughts of bobwhite on my mind.

You could say that a Canada Goose, well, that was an entirely different proposition…and the thought of actually killing a goose of my own was outside the boundaries of my young boy’s possibilities…

That all changed when…

 

A goose represents the rebel in all of us and because they’re wild and free, they have a certain quality that shines out and makes us wish that we were not bound to labor in life, but rather that we could drift as they do with the seasons.”Paul S. Bernsen, The North American Waterfowler, 1972