December 24, 2013
Gift From Above
By Phil Bourjaily
Every once in a while in the field you receive what can only be explained as gift from above: a bird or animal appears out of nowhere and gives itself to you. My last one came the other day while I was out goose hunting.
It was a sunny afternoon, without quite as much wind as the weather man promised. In those conditions a layout blind in a snowy field looks like a refrigerator on its side and casts a huge shadow that spells danger to birds overhead.
After the first four or five flocks steered clear of my decoys I accepted the idea that I wasn’t going to shoot a thing that day. Then I heard a single goose honking, low and coming from directly behind me. I scrunched down lower in my blind to hide. When the goose came over I saw it wasn’t alone: it was flying with a flock of 25 mallards. I have seen single ducks with flocks of geese before, but I have never seen a lone goose flying with ducks. Who knows why this goose was hanging out with the mallards, but it was, and if it hadn’t been honking to announce their arrival they would have taken me completely by surprise.
I didn’t know whether to reach for a duck call or a goose call as they passed over the blind. Before I could do anything and scare them away, the whole group spun 180 degrees and dropped into my decoy spread. I shot the goose as it backpedaled in the landing hole at 15 yards, then killed two ducks as they climbed out of the decoys.
I couldn’t believe what had happened. I’m still not sure it did happen, but the proof is in my freezer. Two ducks and a goose aren’t enough to count as a Christmas miracle but they are a small blessing, and one that makes me stop and think this time of year about the many larger blessings I have received in life as well.