Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thank You

To all of our great clients,

A sincere thank you from Petey and me for a great year.  We are so blessed to have your support and friendship.  We assure you we will never take either for granted.  We will continue to strive to provide you with a premier hunting experience.

All of the decoy spreads are picked up and in storage.  All of the blinds are in their summer resting spots.  We are retrieving the boats this afternoon.  We will visit our landowners tomorrow and thank them for the use of their ponds and land.  Petey will then head back to Aspen and I am headed back to Torrington and then to Florida for a week long nap.

We harvested a total of 842 birds for the season.  That is a 6.47 birds per hunter day for the season.  Our biggest day was March 12th when we bagged 114 birds.  The 2nd largest day was March 13th with 77 birds.  Our biggest per hunter days were March 1st and 2nd.  Our hunters bagged an average of 13 birds per hunter over those two days.  Central Flyway's Best harvested 42.5 birds per day for the 20 days of hunting.

We encourage you to secure your reservations for next year's hunt as soon as possible.  Many of you have already done so and we thank you for that.

My administrative staff will be keeping you updated on the 2011 fly fishing season on the Grey Reef this summer.  Contact me or The North Platte Lodge in Alcova, WY, to fish with me.  Don't forget I do Cast and Blast trips for trophy trout and the magnificent Sage Grouse in September through the Lodge as well.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Torrington for mallards and Canadas next fall and winter.

If any of you would like to leave a comment on your hunt we would greatly appreciate your feedback.

God Bless all of you.

JJ and Petey

More 2011 Snow Goose Hunts

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bye Bye Chen Caerulescens

And then they were gone.  Most of you managed to sneak  past us.  Many of you teased us with your coy non-committal attitude.  You would hang around the edges of the dance hall but never join us in the front row.  You would listen to the music for a brief moment and then continue on your epic 3000 mile journey.  You are a magnificent bird.

You have a standing invitation to join us again next March.  Same time same location. We will be here. Y'all come back now, hear!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 Snow Goose Hunt

So a horse and a llama walk into a bar......

Petey and his hunters went to Knoble's pond yesterday.  They didn't see many birds and those they did see wouldn't work.  They did bag 5 birds right off the bat but it went downhill from there.  Only 7 birds for the day but in spite of that Petey had a great day. Petey had Ken Markin from Colorado and his 82 years young father, Karl, from Washington.  Also in the group was Karl's close friend and hunting buddy from Oregon, Arnie Petersen.  The day was filled with hunting adventures all over the world.  Karl has a bad 'dove' addiction.  He needs serious counseling.  He has hunted doves in almost all the countries in South America.  He has been to Bolivia 10 times!  He has also hunted doves in South Africa and many countries in north Africa as well.  He thinks he may cancel the next trip to Libya.  His hunting partner,Mommar, is a little busy right now.

My day started at the Church pond with a llama and a horse.  As we were getting things loaded in the ATV to go to the blind the llama and the horse came walking down the road.  The horse obviously thought the llama was quite cute (she did have captivating eyes) as they proceeded to 'get it on' right in front of us.  After a brief respite for a post coital cigarette, I herded them back down the road.  Shortly after getting set in the blind it became apparent that the 'black hole' swarm we dealt with yesterday was still to the east of us.  We toughed it out until 10:30 and then I made the call to move to Barber's pond.  Good call JJ!  We harvested 23 birds for the day.  One memorable group was four adult blues that started to work from a suburb just south of the moon.  It took them 45 minutes to descend.  When I called the shot the closest bird was maybe 60 yards.  Seconds later all four geese were enrolled in a spinning class in the decoys.  Great shooting Dr. Keith and Dr. Brad.

Getting nervous about the last five days.  We have not seen any migration for the past three days.  We have seen a good number of birds moving back south.  I don't have a clue as to what that means.  South Dakota is still covered in snow but temps are warming there over the next few days.  Word is that the Missouri River below Lewis and Clark Reservoir on the Nebraska-South Dakota border is covered with geese.  The lake itself is still frozen.  Also hearing that the juvie flocks are showing up at Squaw Creek in Missouri.  Last year the juvie flocks did not come through here.  They followed the Missouri River.  The year before they did come through here.  And so we wait.

The Full Monty and the horse and the llama in the same week!   Who'd a thunk it? You can't make this stuff up.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ouch! Where is Carl Sagan when you need him?

We knew it was coming.  Today was one of those brutal ugly days.  All life matter was being inhaled by a black hole.

I was at the Church pond today and Petey was at Knoble's pond.  We both had exactly the same day.  Had lots of birds early. They would drop from the ozone to about 100 yards and then just drift away.  Not just one bunch but flock after flock. Birds were moving from north to south all day.

At the Church pond we had a mega swarm on the ground 2 miles to the east of us.  Easily 30,000 birds in the 'black hole'.  It sucked in everything in our sector of the universe.  We kept waiting for them to get up and leave.  About 1:00 they started to go, but an airplane came flying by.  An airplane to snow geese is like Sarah Palin at a NOW Convention.  It gets ugly and then goes downhill from there. The plane freaked the geese so bad they just dove back into the pond.

Both groups shot 12 geese today.  We had 2 geese at 4:00 but shot 7 in the last hour.  Petey's day was pretty much the same.  Not the greatest of days but not a total bust either.

Looks like the weather is going to cooperate over the next few days so the migration should get going again.  Reports from Missouri are that there are still a lot of geese around Mound City and the Juvenile flocks are still in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri.

If we can find someone to stop the black holes we can stabilize our little corner of the goose universe.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

ol' Maria Grever knew of what she spoke

"What a difference a day makes!"  Most of you are no doubt familiar with  the great Mexican composer Maria Mendez Grever. She wrote this memorable song in 1934.  The original American recording was by the Dorsey Brothers the same year.  My favorite cover of the song was by Dinah Washington.  She of course won a Grammy in 1959 for her recording.  But surely you knew that.

Yep, it was a different day.  Yesterday was perfect weather.  Today perfectly awful.  We had cloudy skies with freezing drizzle and snow showers.  Not ideal for migrating geese. 

I was at Barber's today and we got 18.  Just one of those days. Every time the dogs made a retrieve they would drag 10 decoys back into the bank. Consequently considerable time was spent resetting decoys.  We had a swarm of geese on the ground to the west of us and it played havoc with us most of the day. Our wonderful friendly game warden also paid us a visit.  So that took time from our day.  He really is a great guy.

Petey and his gang were at Knoble's. They bagged 28.  It was great to have the Ellis group from Illinois with us for the past three days.  We had our annual steak dinner last night.  They grilled the steaks in the parking lot at the Capri Four Seasons! 

Heath and his hunters were at the Church pond today. They harvested 31 today.  They had birds over them most of the day.  The birds were moving west to east all day.  We assume that these were birds that have been to South Dakota and were on their way back because of the snow and frozen lakes and ponds.

So we get to dance the dance and sing the song again.  What a difference a day makes. Twenty four little hours.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Central Flyway's Best joins the CENTURY Club and the Full Monty

The only thing I am 100% sure about in snow goose hunting is that I know absolutely nothing.  Oh I guess I know some things and make pretty good guesses on others, but when it comes to really having them figured out I feel pretty inept most of the time.

Which track to play on the Fox Pro?  Play it loud or soft?  Why, when you have 500 birds working do only three actually commit? Why do some birds fall out of the sky and then just slide away?  Why o' why o' why o'?

Guess that is why I find spring snow goose hunting so addictive.  30 straight days with limited sleep.  Hard work during set-up and tear down.  Hunting till dark every day.  All of this for 3 weeks of hunting!  I do love it so.

We had four groups out today.  It was a perfect migration day.  Sunny skies and 55 degrees with a light north wind.  Heath and his hunters were at Barber's pond today and they bagged 25 birds.  The word from his hunters was they did not shoot well.  Petey and his crew were at the Church pond and their total for the day was 27.  Lynn and Captain Cookie and the Captain's diminutive son were in the field spread.  This is where the porno comes in. Long story short version:  a goose was shot while doing the full Monty.  Nice shot Coop!  More on this later.  Oh yeah, they shot 8 birds.

I had three sharpshooters at Knoble's pond today.  And I do mean sharp.  They were stellar shots all day long.  When the last feather drifted down from on high 54 snow geese were in the bag.  It was an amazing day.  I witnessed the finest Chesapeake retriever work I have ever seen.  And Sage is just a pup.  She is going to be something special.  Snow goose work is great for puppies.  Snows make lots of noise.  They take forever to get down from the ozone so the dogs get to watch them a long time.  They can't take a load of steel like a Canada.  Once they hit the water they can't swim or dive like a mallard.  They are pretty much wussies after they are shot.  (my guess is I would be as well) but they are experts at NOT getting shot.  They are unequivocally the the smartest wariest waterfowl.  In comparison, Canadas should all be riding the short bus.

So, yes, Central Flyway's Best hit the century club today. 114 total.  It was an epic day.

And down the stretch they come!

We have had a major push of birds the past two days.  On Thursday we had two groups out and both shot 17 birds.  My crew was at the Church pond and we had birds over us all day long.  However we didn't shoot our first bird until 2:30.  Nobody wanted to play until then.  Petey was at Barber's pond and they didn't see that many birds even though Barber's is only three miles to the west of the Church.  Such is snow goose hunting.

Friday we also had a good push of birds.  Petey and his gang were at Barber's Pond.  They harvested 27 birds.  Petey's lab Gunner put on a spectacular retrieving demonstration.  My group was back at the Church.  Around 10:30 the wind really began to blow from the southwest.  The 30 mph gust stirred up large waves that played havoc with the decoys.  I could see that things were more than likely going to be going downhill.  We decided to make the move to Knoble's pond as it is more protected from the wind.  Good call, JJ!  We were able to bag 22 in the afternoon in spite of my gunners firing numerous shells that apparently did not contain any steel shot.  There can be no other plausible explanation for so many misses at point blank range! 

We are definitely on the downhill side of the migration, but there are still a lot of birds to come.  The good thing is that birds decoy better on the tail end of the migration as the juveniles come last.

We have three groups out today.  Will update you tonight.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A quick update

Great day at the Church pond.  My group harvested 38 birds.  Petey and his gang hunted only half the day as they had to hit the road.  They bagged 17 before calling it quits.  55 for the day is not too shabby.

It was not a migration day.  We had light snow and low visibility this morning.  We saw a couple large flocks early but the rest of the day it was all small groups.  My theory is these were birds which have been in the area for several days.  They can't go too far north because of snow and frozen watersheds.  We should see the migration pick up again in day or two.  Temps are forecast to moderate and peak near 60 next week.  We are not seeing many Ross geese or juvie snows and blues and that is good thing.  Rossies and juveniles bring up the rear of the migration.  Once we start to see them in significant numbers there is usually 10-14 days left in the migration.

Stay tuned.  The really Big Show is coming soon to a pond near me!  Hope you are there too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Many of you will recognize the Icelandic translation for Chicken Salad.  More salad today.  Snow, freezing mist, 30 mph northeast wind, not a chance of getting snow geese today.  Except they didn't consider who they were dealing with.  The last two hours at Knoble's pond was some of the most spectacular shooting of the season so far.  Huge bunches of 500 - 1000 birds finished in the decoys.  We had birds in the water and the rest looking for room to land.  It was glorious!

All of the birds in the last two hours were full of corn.  I suspect they were all local birds who spent the day in local corn fields and then went looking for water and a place to rest for the evening.  26 of them are resting in peace tonight.

My black lab Dani was the retriever of the day.  She made the swim across the pond and back at least six times today chasing cripples.  She is simply amazing.  Earlier in the day I watched a cripple make it to the far bank and head off into the woods.  During a lull in the action I sent Dani across the pond on a blind retrieve. When she reached the bank, I gave her the whistle command to sit. I then gave her a hand signal to go down the bank to her left.  Even though the bird had crawled out of the water more than an hour earlier, she picked up the scent and disappeared into the woods. Two minutes later she emerged from the woods with the goose.  She then made the swim back across the pond and came to heel and delivered the bird to hand.  Dani loves snow goose hunting more than I do.  She thrives on the high degree of difficulty.

Petey and his crew were at the Church pond today and harvested 18 birds.  Heath guided our third group today at Barber's pond and they bagged 17.  I think 61 birds for the day is definitely not kjúklingur skít!

Chicken Salad

The time tested adage of making chicken salad out of chicken s**t is appropriate for yesterday's hunt. Cloudy, snow flurries and the beloved east wind all combined to make our prospects for a successful hunt seem quite dim. However the snow flurries were light and scattered.  The east wind was just a whisper and low and behold  we experienced one of the unique phenomenas of spring snow goose migration. A reverse migration!  We had birds coming from the north going back south all afternoon.  I think they ran into the snow line and frozen lakes in northern NE and southern SD and decided they need to head back to Squaw Creek and wait awhile.

The good news is we now get three chances at them.  One, on their first trip north; two, on their way back south; and three, on their way north again.  At 2:30 yesterday we had 10 birds.  We finished with 28.  The last volley was with fire belching out of the barrels in the near darkness.  Our three groups bagged a total of 60 birds yesterday. 

Not bad for a chicken s**t day!

I have to give a shout of high praise to my yellow lab, AZ.  Those of you who have hunted with her know that she is not blessed with blinding ground speed.  A running back she is not.  A bit more like an offensive lineman.  What she does have is the sweetest personality that any retriever could have.  I used the term retriever because that is what she is.  A world class retriever.  She is steady to shot.  She will never leave until I give her the command to go.  She is like a rock even when 1500 screaming white banshees are spiraling like an F4 tornado above her head.  She unfailingly marks up to seven birds.  She takes hand signals and whistle commands that allow us to put the 500 yard sailers that fell in the corn field into the bag.  I am blessed to have such a hunting partner.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ifa coulda shoulda

The weather continues to be on the side of snow goose survival.  Yesterday the east wind blew all day and it was cold.  Not conducive for decoying migrating snow geese.  My crew was at Knoble's pond and we got three birds.  Petey and his gang were at Barber's pond and they bagged 20.  Not a good day for Central Flyway's Best.  But not a total bust either.

Today we have three groups out.  The weather is awful again.  Low 30's and light snow flurries.  It is now 2:30 pm and my guys have bagged 10.  Have not heard from the other groups.  Will update tonight.

Forecast is for our weather to improve by Thursday and mid-60's next week.  That should be fun!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Kinda sorta but not really

Yesterday ended up being not a bad day all things considered.  Petey and his crew bagged 32 at Knoble's pond and my guys culled 30 from the herd at Barber's pond.  62 is not bad at all for what we had to deal with.

However, today the bad luck curse is still around.  The biggest issue is that we are dealing with east wind.  An east wind is just bad for decoying waterfowl.  Anytime anywhere.  It is like having the yips in putting. You know nothing good is going to happen no matter what.  The next thing we had to deal with this morning was when the east wind blew the ice that had stacked up on the east side of the pond back into the decoys.  In short order all the decoys were stacked on the bank in front of the blind. Gee, had to reset the spread again. Not looking good.

Still hoping Friedrich was right.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Nietzche was a snow goose hunter

One of the greatest periods of my personal growth came during my cherished albeit brief stint in college.  Kearney State afforded me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of 19th century existentialism as well as the artistry of  modern brewers.  The brewers evidently won the scholastic tug-of-war.  However, Philosophy 101 was not a total waste.  I have always held a strong belief in Friedrich Nietzche's pearl of wisdom, "What does not destroy me, makes me strong".

Hence the German dude was definitely a snow goose hunter.  The white devils of the north kicked our butts yesterday.  Petey had a group at Barber's pond and they bagged 16.  I was at the Church pond and my hunters shot 2!  Yep, one more than one and one less than three and half as many as four. They did well to do that.  We had a swarm on the ground to the east and another massive swarm on the ground to the west.  Birds traded back and forth all day long just to the south of our location.  There were a few migrators yesterday, but those were also sucked into the "white" holes before they got to us. 

On top of that we had 25 - 30 mph winds that kept the decoys on the move all day long.  Many trips with the boat to retrieve and untangle the spread.  Dogs are getting growly.  Yesterday almost destroyed me.

Hope Freddy knows what he was talking about.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Blizzard After the Blizzard

The weather has calmed after last week's storm.  This week we have had another 'blizzard'. A storm of white geese.  Tuesday and Wednesday the skies were filled with migrators.  We had two very successful days of hunting.  Tuesday we had three hunters on Barber's Pond.  They bagged 35 birds.  We decoyed several flocks upwards of a thousand birds.  The dogs got a great workout and as usual we didn't lose a bird.

This morning brought cold and windy conditions.  The wind kept the pond open but the wind had coated the decoys with a thick layer of ice.  It would have been a futile effort to clear the decoys.  In fact there never was a time we didn't have birds working.  As you can imagine the birds didn't finish well at all. The big groups would get to about 80 yards and slide off.  So my two hunters greased up the full chokes and took some a little tall.  Now the dogs love this because we do get a few sailers. 200 - 400 yard marked retrieves as well as long blind retrieves were the norm for the day.  When they stopped flying today the bag total stood at 30.

The word on the migration is that a few scout groups are moving into South Dakota but they can't go far as the state is snow packed and lakes are still frozen.  Squaw Creek in Missouri is holding nearly a million birds. 

Lots of birds still to come.

2010 - 2011 Waterfowl Pictures