I mentioned in last week’s column that we would be doing our third goose-blind broadcast on the Montana Outdoor Radio Show. It was a success even though we only had a short time window to shoot some geese before we went off the air at 8 a.m. last Saturday.
Our host for this unique broadcast was Jaye Johnson from Charlo. On Friday, Johnson, as he has been in years past, was nervous about the next day’s goose shoot. He knew no matter how much he prepared, what he really needed was a little luck for us to get a shot at a goose by the end of the broadcast.
This is how Johnson got us ready for the goose hunt: After spotting some geese landing in a field north of Charlo on Friday morning, Johnson summoned most of the other 15 hunters who would share the goose blind with us the next day, to help make the blind and get it set up in the field that afternoon. The reason for this was the geese would feed in the field that evening and get used to the blind being there and not be alarmed the next morning. Johnson and I then went out to the blind around 5 p.m. to make sure my broadcast equipment would be able to connect to the main studio so we would be able to do the goose-blind broadcast the next morning. The equipment worked perfectly.
All the while, fellow hunters, headed by Steve Mcafee, were back at Johnson’s house putting together silhouette goose decoys and setting them up in a temporary pattern behind the house in a field, a pattern that would eventually gain approval from Johnson and the other hunters. At 6 p.m. it was time to shoot some clay targets. For the most part, all the hunters did a good job of getting the feel for their shotgun, after having not shot it for a few months. So, after about an hour, and about three cases of targets, we felt like we would be ready for the live Saturday morning goose shoot. Next we ate a super potluck dinner and exchanged hunting stories. Then bedtime came early at 9:30 p.m.
I don’t care how early you go to bed, four in the morning always comes early. By 4:45 a.m. we were enjoying hot coffee, huckleberry pancakes, eggs and sausage prepared by Linda Johnson. It was great meal to start what would be a great day.
The Montana Outdoor Radio Show runs live statewide on 14 radio stations from 6 to 8 a.m. Because the shooting time on the Flathead Indian Reservation was 7:32 a.m., we knew no matter how prepared we were we would have to be lucky to actually shoot some geese live on the air. Everything was set. The goose decoy spread looked good. The 50-foot blind was doing its job of hiding 17 excited goose hunters. The show was going off without a hitch.
At 7:25 a.m. three Canada geese set their wings and came right into our decoy spread, it was the first geese flight for us of the day. The good news: The blind and decoy layout worked; the bad news: It was seven minutes before legal shooting time. Now we only had 28 minutes left. During most of that period, geese were flying all around the Flathead Valley within a half a mile from our blind.
It was 7:54 a.m., and after a three-minute commercial break started, we had no geese in sight or sound of our blind. About halfway through the break, a flock of about 20 geese came out of the east. They started to set their wings and by the time we went back live on the air they were right over our blind. Johnson yelled out “Let’s take ’em!”
All of Johnson’s preparation had paid off and now geese were falling from the sky all around us. I was doing the best I could to describe the action to our statewide radio audience. My play-by-play, however, was limited to “look at all those geese falling from the sky.” And, of course, what every hunter in our blind was yelling out, “I got one.” We obviously had Lady Luck on our side.
The rest of the bluebird morning only saw one more flock of geese come into our decoys. All in all, we ended up with 23 geese and one great hunting trip memory.