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A great goose hunt with Uncle Brian

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Looking at my life I think it really come down to this: there are two seasons. All of life's puzzles, trials and tribulations come down to these two metaphorical seasons. Looking a bit deeper, you could make the argument of a third. But that, my friends, is a stretch.

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The seasons: duck hunting season and campaign season. The third would simply be the rest of the year. However, I tend to find a way to fill almost every week with the other two. Campaign season tends to make a dull story. However, duck hunting season is a ripe vine for good hillbilly tales. So, that is where we are going.

I feel the need to again define duck hunting season. This includes goose hunting, duck hunting, bird hunting and even deer hunting. You see, I am a duck hunter. This is an easy merge to include all bird hunting. But deer hunting? Yes, it happens in the middle of duck hunting season. Usually right when the divers are coming in hard. Since I value my life, I stay on shore and go deer hunting those weekends.

Last weekend I had the chance to go field hunting for geese. I have bagged a lot of geese in my travels. However, I had never set out simply to lie in a field and shoot at a goose. To do so one needs a couple of things. You need decoys and -- who am I kidding -- you need to know someone with a field that will take you. My son and I were lucky enough to find such a guy and we call him "Uncle."

This guy is quite a character. The fist time my son met him he looked at me as we walked away and said, "Really dad, he's weird." I told him I used to think the same, but he is a great guy.

Later on, the three of us planned a hunt. We mostly listened. He was so kind and did a great job getting my kid involved in the process. This was about the time the stories starting rolling in. We listened is awe about tales of Muskie fishing with some interesting bait. After that -- bam! -- conversation over. He gave us a map to his house, a time to be there and rushed away.

We next saw the man called Uncle at 5:30 a.m. at his house. We were introduced to the two others who would round out our five-some. He tore out of his driveway at a fevered pace. However, after accelerating to 40 mph, he leveled off. I found this odd. I just figured he would be in a bit more of a hurry. That did not last long.

As we turned off the tar, then the gravel, we trekked across the better part of a section of farm trails and fields. All the time he kept the same pace -- 40 mph. I could hardly keep up with him. He then roared to the top of a hill and got out with a rolling stop, lights on. He threw out the decoys and arranged them beneath the glow of headlights. Then, he roared down the hill, parked the beast and trodded up the hill.

His buddy was a gem. He smoked about 768 cigarettes on that hill over the weekend. Typical of a pair of old hunters, one was the detail guy. Smokey went through pains in resetting all of the decoys. All morning long he would stand, smoking and looking for birds. My friend was the binocular guy, calling out "geese," "ducks" or "cormorants." These two were pros. I loved every minute of it.

My son and I were regaled with hours of stories and tales of hunts long ago and last year. All along he drew us into the experience. My son learned a lot from this guy, as did I.

For three days, the routine was similar. The same guys, hill, decoys, second-hand smoke and no geese. It was just too nice. We only bagged two, both on the first day. It was great that my son shot the first one. But I am glad it was so hot that the hunting stunk.

I think it drew us closer to our guide. The lousy hunting gave us a chance to have my kid drive a car for the first time in that field. The boy also fell asleep in his blind. After an hour or so of shooting the bull, Uncle told me to "get my gun." It's one heck of an alarm clock that two shotguns make. I really could not have asked for a better hunt. It was all due to our guide.

You see, every once in a while you meet a guy who is completely not what you were expecting. For his teaching, stories and pure friendship my son and I call him "Uncle Brian." I admit we considered calling him "Evinrude" as he drives like a 15-horse outboard. You know two speeds: full bore and off. But, we stuck with Uncle Brian.

The best part is that you already know him. Uncle Brian is Brian Hansel, writer for the Pioneer Journal.

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