It is not true that on the day after Christmas Santa gives his helpers a few days off to go goose hunting. You might think so by looking at this picture, though. However, that is no giant elf, it’s my friend Mike in his hunting whites and the trapping gloves he wears to pick up decoys. And he has one-upped Santa Claus this year by giving me one of the best belated Christmas presents ever: a timely phone call.

With Jed nursing a sore paw and me frustrated by geese, I didn’t plan to do any hunting for a few days after Christmas. I slept in Friday, got up, made coffee and turned my phone on. It showed a missed call from Mike one minute before. I called and he said, “We shot our limits and there are still geese landing in the decoys. Can you get down here right now?”

I tried to wake my kids, both home on break. They groaned and didn’t budge. I was on the road by myself exactly 12 minutes after getting the call and was lying in a blind 20 minutes later. I had just settled in when a flock decoyed and I shot a double. A few minutes after that, a pair came in. I picked the one on the right. Given how well my day was going already it was no real surprise that the goose I picked as my third and last was banded.

Fortunately I was able to give a gift in return. On the drive home I took the back way and found a field with enough geese in it for the next morning’s hunt. Mike and his son Dan (the other hunter in the picture) were my first call. We had a great shoot the next morning. Both my sons got out of bed and in on this one, too, which made it even better.

The longer I hunt, the more I realize that while I have been lucky to hunt all over, it is the hunts at home with friends that I like the very best.

Happy holidays.