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Coming from Chicago and then moving to Houston Texas at a young age is traumatic enough at the age of sixteen; little did I know of the wonders and disappointments that lay ahead. When living in Chicago as a young boy I do remember seeing the Canada geese from time to time and of course chasing the local pair of ducks around the local park with a stick, but nothing could have prepared me for what was in store.
Once arriving in Baytown Texas many things were obvious at first glance and not just their speech. There were oil derricks, the Gulf of Mexico, John Wayne filming a movie about oil well fire fighting and oh yea the massive amounts of waterfowl. Once out from the sleepy little town there were field after field of crops and in the late fall as the temperature fell the waterfowl started arriving and not just ducks, but geese; snow geese.
Almost as soon as I saw the masses of snow geese I was hooked and not that much longer I had pestered almost everyone my parents knew in to letting me tag along as they went hunting. Knowing nothing and coming from a family that had no hunters one of my father’s co workers took pity on me and succumb to my constant pleading and begging to join them. He first made me agree to do as I was told and that he would allow me to help set up their next mornings hunt, knowing less than nothing I clamored at the chance to go and would have agreed to almost anything at that point.
My first day hunting or well at least I thought so, started as I was awaken before anything could have possibly been awake and moving or so I had thought. After a long ride in the middle of the night that I thought would never end, going to one of this mans rice farming friend’s fields. I found my self with a group of five very large men all with guns and dogs dressed in this neat looking camouflage when my fathers’ friend says; ok you carry this bag and follow me. As I tried to follow the man the best I could carrying and dragging the funny heavy bag with all of these heavy plastic decoys of ducks and geese, I could just barley make out this hump in the back ground. As we drew closer I could see the men were stepping down in to this pit style blind, at last I am there and now I can rest or so I thought.
Once I start to sit down on the bench seats in this pit blind, I’m told; not yet we still have to put out the decoys and fast as it is almost shooting time. As I looked around you could start to see the sky change from black and full of stars to these wonderful shades of blues and yellows. I am told that I get to be the decoy boy, my job was simple do as you’re told and drag the bag behind one of the hunters and hand him decoys. After about a half hour that seemed to drag on for ever in the mud, we were done and as I turned back to look at our finished job you could see the birds flying here and there in the early morning sky and the sounds of the geese and ducks calling to one another.
It didn’t take us long to make our way back to the pit and just in time to hear one of the men say now-now take-um, at just that moment I looked over the wall of the pit and could see what I thought was hundreds of thousands of snow geese. They looked as if they were caught in a tornado coming down and then the loud crakes of gun fire, the next thing I knew the dogs were running out and retrieving the snow white snow geese and bring them back to the pit.
As hunting goes the men really did not get that many, I felt as if I myself had taken a hundred of these gorgeous snow geese. That night I could still hear the snow geese calls ringing in my ears and was so excited I could hardly sleep in anticipation of telling all I went to school with about my newly found hobby.
Little did I realize that just that one mourning would for ever change my life giving me direction, a lasting love of the outdoors, nature and of waterfowl. What once started as a hobby then changed to a passion and now has almost consumed my life. As I count the days with my dog be my side from the end of spring to the beginning of autumn in anticipation of the fall fights of snow geese over the grain fields and once again the sounds of geese circling down into the decoys, I can’t help remembering with joy my humble beginnings as I see our clients bring there youngsters on their first snow goose hunts as they see the massive swarms of snow geese fill the crisp morning air.