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One of those real diversions is fast approaching

There are polite diversions in life, and then there are the real ones. Speaking for those who enjoy hunting, we are closing in on the real ones.

The September goose hunting season is fast approaching, and flight and feeding patterns are being noticed. The information is being docketed and plans are being made.

One of my old pals is what you would call "serious" about waterfowl hunting. He still hunts in Minnesota, but his addiction is such that for more than 30 years he has been seeking a cure for it each fall in Canada.

I still remember one time when we were teenagers and driving out to the golf course in separate cars to shoot a round. As we turned off the highway, I spotted a nice flock of blue-winged teal swimming in a pond next to the road. I wanted to count them, so I slowed down.

Suddenly, there was a crash.

I had slowed down to count the ducks. He had stopped.

Scouting was one of our favorite diversions when we were growing up as well as hunting the lakes and sloughs around our hometown. We would check certain spots and then plan our strategy for the hunt. It is doubtful if the D-Day invasion of Normandy received more planning than a trip to some of our duck and goose hunting excursions.

An older man we both knew once said to us, "If you two put as much effort into making money as you put into hunting, you'd both be millionaires."

Maybe, but all millionaires have at the end of the day is a lot of money.

As adults, we have hunted together in Canada, and when the geese come down and mingle with the prairie ducks it is a sight to behold. Some flocks number in the thousands, but even so, we still know the secret to bagging birds is scouting. For that reason, once the morning's shooting has died down and the birds are cleaned, we climb in a truck and go out to look for birds.

More than one scouting trip has gone like this. We will be driving down some dusty, country road when old eagle-eyes will start to chirp.

"Over there! I think I see about 50, maybe 100," he says.

How many?

"Wait, give me those binoculars!" he barks.

I give him the glasses and he starts to give the field another going over.

"I see more now. There is quite a bunch in the water too."

His words start coming faster.

"Turn around and let's go back. I think there are about 500."

How many?

"How are we going to get at them?" he ponders. "I wonder who owns this field? I wonder if he will let us hunt here?"

His fingers are drumming on the dash now, and he is thinking hard.

"If we could get into this field in the morning, we could set our decoys over there and...wait just a minute! Where are those binocs?"

There is a mad scramble and he is glassing the field again.

"I didn't see that other bunch the first time we went by, let me count'em. Oh wow, I see about 500 more in that group! Do you see them? Look at them all!"

His fingers are tapping the window on the passenger's side of the cab very quickly now.

"We have to talk to the guy who owns this field. There must be a thousand out there! Let's turn around and make one more pass!"

Ten passes later we are finally going to talk to the landowner.

This is a pretty common theme for duck and goose hunters. The characters might change and the dialog might alter, but it is still scouting. By the way, some of those guys are out there now, so watch out for yourself - they only have eyes for the birds.