The Wonderful Sport Of Goose Shooting
Picture This - There's something about goose shooting that makes you want to put on another layer of clothing, or simply stay home by the fire and let your neighbor suffer through the challenge and enjoyment of the sport. When we see pictures of duck hunting, we see the hunter, accompanied by the ever-present black lab, rising out of his blind to take shots at waterfowl passing by not too many feet away. The weather is clear, and it’s a nice crisp, though not cold, autumn day.
Now Picture This - A picture of goose shooting on the other hand usually shows the hunter, surrounded by several hundred decoys, laboriously placed in a field before the sun came up, with an icicle hanging from his nose, waiting for the large flock of geese over in the next field to come his way. He can't go to them. They'll take off en masse before he gets anywhere within shooting range, and whether any of them venture his way is somewhat problematical.
This isn't to put goose shooting down. It's a wonderful sport for the right person. Goose hunters are in the same fraternity with winter steelhead fishermen, bow hunters, and other hardy souls for which the thrill of the hunt is often more important than the prize.
Goose shooting involves a great deal more than purchasing a 12 gauge shotgun (forget the 20 gauge unless you're going after tame geese), sticking out a few decoys, and waiting. Geese are intelligent, they spook easily, and they make difficult targets. Frustrated hunters have been known to fire away at a flock of geese traveling at an altitude were even a heat-seeking missile wouldn't reach them. If you go duck hunting in a place where ducks usually are to be found, there may be other hunters there as well, and everyone gets in a few shots. When you're goose hunting, if one hunter fires off his shotgun too quickly, the geese will probably be gone forever. Goose shooting is a rather solitary enterprise.
Jealous? - While you may wonder about the intelligence of someone who heads out at 4 am on a cold wintry day with a trailer full of decoys, to do some goose shooting, you really shouldn't. The knowledge that a goose hunter requires to be a success is substantial. The size of shot to be used depends upon the distance the goose is away from the hunter, something that's not always predictable. The shotgun's choke, whether fixed or variable plays a role. The shot pellets don't all leave the muzzle of the gun at once, but come out like a short spurt of water, a 2 or 3 foot spurt when all is said and done. Unless the goose is flying straight for the hunter or straight away, both unlikely occurrences, the hunter will be swinging the gun, leading the target, and the shot will be traveling in a pattern something like a short, fat rope. Something in that rope has got to hit the goose, either in a place that will hit a vital organ, or at least bring the goose down within a mile of the hunter.
A goose is a pretty tough bird, and a single BB isn't likely to bring one down unless it hits the head. While we don't learn to shoot accurately with a shotgun the same way we do with a pistol or long gun, practice and experience is still a necessity of you want to bring home the goose. Most of us may settle for staying home and enjoying a second or third cup of coffee after breakfast rather than sitting in the middle of a frozen field. But deep down we feel a bit of envy, maybe even jealousy, towards those who call themselves goose hunters.