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Goose Decoys Make Tough Eating...

Story ID:8649
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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More memories from my youth.

Goose Decoys Make Tough Eating…
By Chuck Dishno
January 2013

Migratory bird hunting season was always a big time in my life, growing up in Bly, Oregon. My Dad gave me my first, and only, shotgun, a model 97 Winchester 12 gauge pump. It was an old gun then with the last patent in 1910 but it sure could shoot and kicked like the proverbial Kentucky mule. This didn’t bother me though and I rarely missed a day of the 70-day season.

I had a lot of hunting buddies including some of the older men in Bly. I was always up for a hunt and would go whenever asked. My usual companions were Doyle and Herb but I was also a loner. It was just a short walk to the fields and on many occasions I would get up early and walk the short distance to one of the ranches and sit in the lea of a haystack eating Velveeta Cheese sandwiches. If it was a school day and the birds were flying, I would often skip school at least until the afternoon classes. The punishment for skipping was up to 4 hacks, administered by the principal, but hey, what were a few hacks compared to dropping a duck or goose. After the first two you didn’t feel anymore. I think one day I tried to bribe the principal, Mr. Graham, with a couple of honkers. That didn’t help and he gave me an extra hack or two for my bribing transgressions.

Bly is located in the Sycan Valley where the hunting was always good due to the grain fields and bodies of warm water springs and ponds; Although there were always plenty of both ducks and Canadian Honkers flying, getting then down to within range was not always that easy to do. We had never used goose decoys mainly because they were too large to handle properly and far too expensive. We did use duck calls to limited success {see my story The Duck Call #6900) and I did have 6 life-size rubber duck decoys that could be rolled up and carried in your pocket.

One day my Pop was looking at a sports flyer and saw an advertisement for Johnson’s Folding Goose Decoy’s. They were at a price he could afford and promptly sent off for them. A week later the Red Ball Stage delivered a flat package containing our new method of putting meat on the table. In the canvas bag were 12 full-size Canadian Honker folding decoys. They were printed on heavy chipboard and had a wax coating. They were two sided and when folded out the head and neck could be pivoted to an erect or feeding position. They had a flat piece of metal with tabs that when inserted between the two sides kept them upright which gave them a 3-dimention appearance. The metal separator had a 15 inch long stake that when pushed into the ground would let them pivot in the breeze. They looked very lifelike to us but the true test was what they would look like to a flock of geese flying high overhead.

Pop and I tried them out the next time we went hunting but nothing was flying that day so we put them back in the bag and went home.

About a week later my friend Herb and couldn’t wait to try out the decoys out in Basil Halls field After we had them set up in what we thought looked like a real live flock feeding and always with one or two with their heads up guarding the rest we got behind an embankment about 100 feet away. There were a few bands of geese flying but they paid no attention to the bunch on the ground.

There was a new kid in Bly at the time named Joe Schiller. Joe had moved there to live with an uncle. He came from some big city in the mid-west and had a hard time getting used to our small lumbering town ways. He was a really nice kid but we promptly put the moniker on him of “City Slicker”. Joe went right along as we pulled all kinds of tricks on him but he took it all in stride and became fast friends.

Joe went with us many times but on this occasion as Herb and I were waiting behind that dyke, we saw Joe come out from a stand of trees on the adjoining hill. I should mention that Joe had a big time smoking habit and couldn’t go long with out that dratted fag.

Joe was about 1000 yards away from us when he spotted our decoys and thought he had hit the jackpot. He immediately dropped down on his stomach and began to crawl. We couldn’t always see Joe since the grain stubble was pretty high at places, but we tracked his progress by the puffs of smoke that frequently rose into the air as he took another drag on his cigarette. Every so often his head would pop up to make sure the geese were still there.

Herb and I watched him get closer and closer for about 30 minutes. When he got to within about 50 feet he took a final drag on his weed, jumped up, took aim and was ready to fire off a couple of 12 gauge shots. Herb and I jumped up and hollered, “Hey, City”, don’t shoot our decoys.” Joe turned in disgust, threw a few expletives at us and stomped off toward home in a cloud of cigarette smoke.

When we got home and went by Joe’s house, he was sitting there waiting for us. He wasn’t mad but only embarrassed to be caught trying to make a dinner out of our decoys

I can’t remember if we got any geese to come down to our display that day but I know that over the remaining years I lived in Bly, they helped me keep our frozen food locker well stocked. Pop had made a good purchase.

I can envision some time in the Heavenly future, Herb and I may be sitting on a Heavenly cloud with our trusty decoys well placed in front of us. I just hope we don’t see City popping up over another cloud, with his shotgun in hand, waiting to ambush our fake flock.