By:Chad Belding

The month of October can sneak up on a waterfowl hunter faster than they can usually blink an eye. It seems like we spend all Spring and Summer waiting for the leaves to fall and for the birds to sing to us. Then all of a sudden, we need to be packing the trucks and trailers and hitting the road to chase the flight. This can be avoided with a lot of off season preparation that we spoke about last month. Let’s have fun with this and say that everything was in place and all of our gear was ready for the season to begin. Some of us wait until October to head North to Canada and others are eagerly waiting for their home opener. Either way, we are all ready and itching for that first flock to put their feet down and finish right in our simulated hole.

October can be a tricky month for waterfowl hunting. If you are in Canada, it is later in that season and the birds could be getting used to a lot of what they have been seeing on a daily basis. Then down in the states, the first seven to ten days could be as memorable as they get but then the rest of the month might turn stale with warming temperatures and learning birds. This is where the instincts of the serious waterfowl hunter need to kick into gear and they need to begin to think outside of the box. This might mean hitting the road to scout for better locations, getting on the phone and finding out if the birds are moving into different areas, or using the time to prepare for the rest of your season with calling, dog training, and shooting. There is nothing wrong at all with putting the decoys up for three weeks until Mother Nature cooperates a little more and the birds head your way. The bottom line is that we all need to be using this time to train and become better all-around duck and goose hunters.

Now back to the fun part. It is a mid October night in Idaho and you and your crew our traveling the landscape to find the geese. You see a small group of honkers go into a cornfield so you turn the truck to the east and head their way. As you crawl over the skyline with your rig, you see a field that puts a smile on your face in under a second. You stop and put your binoculars up to see that there are more than you can actually see with the human eyes. They are on a feeding frenzy because the first true storm of the season is approaching and they can feel it in their ears. You know the landowner but you also know that he is a goose hunter so you and your gang are a little nervous to knock on his door. You try to call him but there is no answer so you decide to creep into his driveway. As your fist makes contact with his front door, you hear more honkers piling into his field. Your heart is beating like you are on your first high school date and then you hear the dead bolt get turned and the big white door begins to crack open. There he is, standing there in his camo pants and Sportsman’s Warehouse cap. You notice his lanyard behind him by his chair and you know he was just practicing for tomorrow. He grins as he says, “Let me have one guess why I am blessed with your presence right now”. You smile and hold out your hand to shake his. He grins again and says, “Well, are you going to say anything?” Now you are on the spot and you have come way too far to just turn and leave now. “I was just watching all of those big geese go into your corn and was

wonde…..”. Before you can get it out of your mouth, he interrupts you with, “Be here at 5:00 a.m. so we can get out there and get a good hide before they start coming off of the river”. Now that glazed look on your face turns to a huge grin as you are visualizing the next morning in your head as he is trying talk to you. You just stand there and shake your head at him without having a true understanding of what he is even saying anymore.

You and your crew are high fiving all the way home to load the blinds and decoys, get the guns cleaned, get the dog fed, and try to get at least three hours of sleep before you meet him back at the spot. This is the anticipation that October brings to the duck and goose hunter and I promise, if this sport is in your veins, there is no other feeling like it on earth. The results of the next day are not what matters to me. I am in this for the anticipation, the friendships, the handshakes, the high fives, and the success of being an all-around waterfowler.

Who knows how the hunt is going to actually go but how fun is it to crawl over that skyline and finally see a large bunch of Canadas hitting a field? What about the approach into his driveway to see if there is any chance at all of your crew hunting those birds? What about the drive home with your buddies when you guys plan that hunt out in your head? What about the smile on your face that night at dinner and having your family try to figure out what is truly wrong with you? What about the coffee pot going off the next morning and the sound of the first drop hitting the bottom of the pot? What about seeing your puppy jump into his kennel that morning? What about the lunch after the shooting has ended? What about the photos after your hunt? What about cleaning the geese and getting them ready for the Crock Pot? What about it guys? These are the feelings that make my season complete. The hunt and harvest is just butter on the roll. No doubt, it is one of the main reasons why we all do it but do this for me this season, try to cherish all of the other aspects of your hunting season. The rumors are in the mill again, the birds are thick and it looks like a promising season! Enjoy it and be safe. Don’t forget to high five your dad after he smokes a mallard or after he gets your truck unstuck after you run it off of the slippery road. Take a lot of photos, record a journal, film some hunts, come up with a new recipe, and have a great season.

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