How Low Can You Go?
The Art of Concealment for the Successful Alaskan Waterfowler
by Klondike Kid

What a day made for sleeping in! The weather report was only half correct - it was actually twice as bad as they predicted. 30 knot winds, horizontal sleet/snow/rain mixed and the sky so dark an hour into shooting time it appeared that the sun itself decided to sleep in today.

Yet I found myself on the marsh in the middle of October on such a day, warm as toast and dry as a popcorn fart in the desert. And perhaps even with a bit of a smirk on my face as I pondered my hunting partner's comfort level lying in the mud exposed to the elements just a few yards away.

No I wasn't hunting from a huge pit blind outfitted with heaters, stove and portable television. Nor an elaborate upright blind with a floor, a roof and comfortable benches. On the contrary, I too found myself lying in the muck and 4 inches of water on such a miserable day....but comfortably tucked in my mummy blind....a.k.a. the duck coffin.

Alaska's marshes provide little cover for waterfowlers. Laydown
hunting is the deadliest method you can use. The Klondike Kid
& Brandy show how effective this tactic can be.
Gee, I'm so cozy" I thought, "I could stay here all day; well at least until my thermos runs dry." Then over the noise of gale winds ripping at the weeds and netting I had painstakingly anchored over my hide I heard the distant chaos of anxious snow geese looking for a place to rest. And judging by their enthusiastic chatter, THIS was the place.

"They're HERE!" was the first thought that echoed through my mind. Our timing was perfect! We had intercepted the snows in their brief two to three day migration through our area as they traveled from Siberia to the warm climate of West Coast winters. This rare opportunity to be out on the marsh when they came through was reward enough but to get a shot or even bag a bird would be the pinnacle of many Alaskan waterfowlers' dreams. Perhaps even more of an achievement than bagging a sandhill crane earlier in the season.

The birds almost sounded frantic and most likely had just completed a couple hundred miles of their journey bucking these strong headwinds. But the rumble of the wind made it difficult to get a fix on their position in the early morning gloom as they circled the flats in figure eight patterns debating the ideal landing spot. Laydown shooting does impair the hunter's opportunity to follow birds, especially as they pass to your backside. But if your setup and positioning are correct, all you must watch is your front door. With the geese behind me and sounding VERY close, I expected to hear my partner's 12 gauge empty its magazine in short order.

Yet the squeals of the flock began to fade to my right without the intervention of goose loads breaking the silence. Hmmm, did we miss our chance? Was that the last hurrah? It has happened like that before but disappointment was farthest from my mind.

Five seconds later it was my moment in the sun. Coming in from my right side were 75 snows, ten yards off the ground, in a wingtip-to-wingtip single file line making a downwind strafing pass over our duck decoys which were wildly bobbing on the pond in front of us. It was a split second opportunity, the closest bird out perhaps 40 yards, geese all in a row...unbelievable!

I pulled up, dropped the bead in front of the nearest bird on the end of the chorus line and emptied my 1100 Mag as fast as possible on that one unlucky migrant. I was taking no chances with this opportunity. A Snow Goose in the Hand is Worth Three On the Wing. And to my amazement, the first four geese in the line obligingly dropped to the ground. Talk about a day to remember....a quadruple on snows! And a limit at that.

My partner, just a few yards away, sat upright in the mud, his eyes the size of dinner plates and his barrel still cold. All he could say was "I thought they were out of range." Thanks cuz.

NEXT PAGE.....The Alaska Eco-Challenge

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