Resident Canada Goose Season Begins on the Potomac River
Sweat stung my eye. The lightning suggested I set up the tent, ending my thoughts of an open camp. Hunting season begins tomorrow with the first days of the Resident Canada Goose season, but boy is it hot to be hunting. So to keep with the existing season and the season to come, I combine the two. I planned a short float down the Potomac sneak boating Canada Geese and catching Smallmouth Bass in route. Sounds like a perfect day to this river rat.
Before long the cold weather will have the geese swimming to keep their waters open, but today the heat of summer remains
Because I had to scout the river finding the hide-a-way of the local geese, I set up camp along the river. I scouted hard the last hour before dark scanning the skies with both eyes and ears. As I sat in camp reading, the Geese flew low up river and came to a nightly rest just a football field away from camp.
The lightning show was outstanding. The thunder rocked the tent. However, the hard rains missed camp. Only a few light water drops landed on the pages as I read. I ate left over fried chicken from dinner at my mom’s the night before. It was a dinner I thought not possible a short time ago. At the table sat my mother, me and my oldest daughter. It felt good to be with family. Next time I hope my other daughter can join us.
By headlamp I read late into the night. Good books are a real pleasure, one I enjoy even more when I’m reading outdoors. Something about sitting outside among the stars and sun reading that allows me to absolutely relax and submit my mind totally to the story held on the page.
My last prayer words, as I pull into my sleeping bag, “God I love being out here.”
There is just something about a camp to sooth one’s being. Whether in Wyoming or Maryland.
Canada Goose Season Begins
At 4:35 AM, I opened the tent flap and welcomed the new day. The wet grass felt cool to my feet. The cut grass stuck to my bare feet. In cargo shorts and a sleeveless shirt still damp from my standing in the river the evening before, I embark into the new day.
I shared the boat ramp with two other fishermen. They intended to fish up river from the boat ramp. While we waited for daylight to arrive, we talked of favorite fishing lures. Good fishing locations and swapped stories of the big ones caught.
I entered the fluid world of the river first. In my canoe loaded with five goose decoys, three fishing rods, gunning bag, fishing bag, shotgun and my latest read, the day arrived. While my new fishing buddies fought the upstream battle to reach their idea of the perfect fishing hole, I went with the flow toward my destination, fine tuning my direction with soft paddle stokes. Within the first five minutes on the river, I heard the good morning honk resting geese. Down river, just as I had predicted, swam a late summer gathering of local resident geese. I quietly loaded three shells into my shotgun.
I held the old gun in my hand and looked it over. Quick mental math had me realizing the old gun has been around for better than twenty years. The gun is painted with my own camo design. Factory camo painted shotguns were not available then. A lot in my life has changed since that purchase, some good, some not so good. I guess I wear the scars of my past just as this old shotgun wears the scars of many past hunting seasons. With all that changes, the river still flows and I still sneak the river in search of geese and ducks. Yep, it felt good to be here.
The sneak was perfect. I gain river and the birds were well in range before taking flight. Three quick thundering booms awake the river valley. Three clean misses; a perfectly executed plan with less than perfect results. Within the first few minutes of the first day of hunting season, I could have killed the first birds of the season. What a great campfire story that would have made. But it was not to be. As with life, I accepted the past, learned from it, and continued my float down river.
In short order I was able to try again. Hidden in the morning fog rising off the river, I barely made out three geese resting on a log. Using my right hand, I steered the canoe with the new wooden paddle I had purchased just prior to the Monocacy River float after losing the old standby of ten plus years. In my left hand, I griped the old Browning shotgun. Embracing both the new and old, I slowly made progress toward my objective.
I was even closer this time before they took to flight. The first shot rang out and a goose dropped into the river. Two more times the shotgun fired; more misses. I had collected my first goose of the season before 7:00 am on the first day. Some would call that a success. I had missed five times all before 7 am the first day of the season. Some would call that a failure. I’ll go with a success. Perception is an important thing.
The miles of river pass. I encountered no more geese. I caught a few smallmouth before reaching the end of the float. My pickup was not due for another two hours. I backed the canoe into the weeds, tossed out the decoys and began to read. There I sat until my pickup arrived, enjoying the day of transition. Summer is fading, and fall is arriving. As one season of life fades, another arrives. I cannot think of another place I would rather be during the change than on the river.