Monday, December 26, 2011


For those of you who keep a copy of the USGA's Decisions on the Rules of Golf on your bedside nightstand (I know many of you do. And who would not, for it is scintillating reading) you are familiar with the terms Player A and Player B. When rendering a decision on the Rules, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) refer to players as A, B, C and D. Thusly protecting the names of the innocent as well as those who should not be allowed to breed.

This is the story of my guiding in the 2-Shot Goose Hunt competition this year. If you are following the blog (and if not...why not?) you already know Tom's son, Grant, won the 2-Shot from Tom's favorite pit, the pasture pit at Lingle. I was guiding the lake pit. Tom's second favorite pit. The lake pit is located in Wyoming on Tom's property southwest of Henry. I should have been suspicious when my hunters were not at the draw party on Friday night. The guides draw their hunters and then a (if you are an IRS agent please stop reading now) Calcutta auction is held on the teams. Proceeds go to the Wyoming Home for old Angus Bulls.

The Lake pit has had four shots fired many times. I was very hopeful. The firing order of my hunters (Player A and Player B) was determined by a coin flip on the first tee. Conducting the coin toss ceremony was Ingrid E. Newkirk, National President of PETA.  Player A won the toss and was to fire the first tee shot. There is a game plan to the hunt.  I call the shot because I want the geese to be no more than 15 yards from the pit feet down and it needs to be a big goose.  I should point out that a goose may not be shot while sitting on the water. However, the rules do not preclude having a toe nail in the water.  I want the geese so close so that even an artist from Minnesota could not miss. "Go Bears!" (reference to the movie Fargo)

Not long after legal shooting time we had the first small bunch of geese respond to my Tim Grounds Super Mag. It was obvious to me that the geese were smitten with my goose talk. They were coming to point blank range. Similar to hitting a 7 iron from 165 yards to six inches.  A gimme "birdie" for sure. (How do you like that play on words, Ingrid?)

A single goose rocketed out of the sky as if he had a rock tied to his feet. He was coming to toe dunking distance. The goose began his descent from 200 yards above the spread. I told Player A to get ready. I am thinking "please don't shoot my decoys!" This bird is reading the book. Somewhere around 80 yards in the bird's descent, Player A lost control of all bodily functions. One of the worst sounds a guide can hear is the sound of a lid sliding back before you call the shot. The next milliseconds play out in slow motion. The words get caught in my throat. I am about to scream at Player A "NNOOOO!"  Player A stands and fires a shot at aforementioned  goose at the 80 yard mark. Of course goose flies on. Ingrid rejoices from her perch in the cattails. Game Over. Flagrant violation of the rules. Team disqualified. If you miss a shot in the competition you are usually done. We would now have to bag two geese with one shot to get back in it. Player A, now referred to as "Jack-in-the-Box", clearly has a total disregard for the traditions of the game as well as for the USGA and the R&A.

I must confess that Player A did regain his composure enough to miss his second shot at TEN yards.  This goose was in the chair having a pedicure! A stifled chuckle came from the cattails.

As we sat in the pit lamenting our misfortune with player A, Player B wants me to look at his shotgun. Like I haven't seen a shotgun in guiding hunters for over 20 years! But this gun is special. It is a Winchester Model 12 that his father bought in 1939. Seems to me that firearms might have made a few improvements in the last seventy two years! However, being the "professional" (another veiled reference to golf) that I am, I feigned interest. As he hands me the heirloom I notice the safety is off. This constitutes an egregious violation of Rule #1..KEEP YOUR FRIGGING SAFETY ON IN THE PIT! I have had one gun go off in a pit and after the dust from the IED settles you look for fallen soldiers. Aside from needing personal wipes, no one was injured.

In no uncertain terms, I referred Player B to Rule #1. A few moments later we had geese working. I alerted Player B to put a peg in the ground. He was about to be on the tee. The group of four Canadas all bellied up within 10 yards of the pit. Ingrid covered her eyes. If they were any closer you could whack them with your lob wedge. Player B had learned from Player A's foible and remained seated until I said "Go"! B slid back the lid and stood to fire. The geese were so close and so tightly packed, I let the possibility of a double, or the rarest of the rare, a triple enter my mind. I know better than to have those fantasies. They are always followed by heart wrenching, debilitating pain. Player B never fired.  He couldn't get his safety off. Ingrid's whimper was soon replaced by a guffaw.

I will not go into all the sordid details. Player B rose to shoot EIGHT TIMES and never fired a shot. I suspect he and Ingrid are engaged in some sort of sordid love affair, which surely involves a greens keeper and a midget of yet to be determined gender. At the conclusion of the hunt you have to check in your geese, of which we had none. You also have to report how many shots were fired. I reported Player A had two whiffs and Player B had eight balks. I apologize for the baseball reference. I looked through my bedside copy of the Decisions Book and as I suspected balks are not covered. A golfer never balks.

I recommended to the tournament committee that Player A and Player B never be allowed to enter the competition again.

At the conclusion of Saturday night's Awards Banquet,  I was walking through the parking lot on the way to my truck when I witnessed three people walking hand in hand in hand. Was it the Three Musketeers? I knew in an instant I had been set-up. It was Player A, Ingrid and Player B. I was but a pawn in their diabolical scheme.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Tom Harpstreith

The annual 2-Shot Goose Hunt has been held in Torrington the second weekend in December beginning in 1988. My late friend and mentor, Tom Harpstreith, was instrumental in the formation of the hunt. Tom was a driving force behind the continuation and growth of the hunt. The rules of the hunt are 2-Man teams get two shots per person. A perfect score would be four geese. If there is a tie, it goes to the four geese with the highest total weight.

The 2-Shot is a major supporter of many charities in Goshen County. Proceeds from the hunt fund scholarships for deserving local students as well as providing financial support for enhancing local waterfowl refuges and many other community initiatives.

Tom was obsessed with winning the 2-Shot either as a guide or as a participant. As a shooter in the event he never drew a quality pit. Tom has the premier pits in Goshen County. When he was the guide, his shooters were always less than stellar. Consequently no wins.

This year Tom's son, Grant, won the competition as a guide from Tom's favorite pit west of Lingle, WY. He and his two shooters were the only team to record four geese!

My dear friend you did it! There is a snicker in heaven today.

Monday, December 5, 2011


You don't have to be an avid ornithologist nor a devoted waterfowl enthusiast to know that Canada geese love green grass. Drive by almost any golf course and you will see geese. Out here our green grass is winter wheat. Following the bean harvest in September many farmers plant those fields with winter wheat. The primary purpose is to prevent excessive wind erosion of soil during the winter months. The benefit to the geese (and to us) is the green shoots of the wheat emerge just before the "snowbirds" from the north come to spend the winter in our tropical clime. They are on it like their city brethren take to Kentucky blue.

When it gets really cold here, and it does occasionally, they go for the corn. Corn is a higher octane fuel for them than green grass. Kinda like their own green energy ethanol initiative. Van Jones must be so proud.

Sometimes geese want corn so badly they pay no heed to their natural instincts. They figuratively and occasionally literally lose their heads. They don't listen to their gut instincts. For this goose, corn was responsible for a real pain in the stomach. Literally!

Dave Kalinski, Mayor of Silver Summit, Utah, and goose with corn fetish

Friday, December 2, 2011


If you have been following this blog you know of the journey that my puppy Molly has been on. From being banished to Utah and then back again; to having issues during training; to getting her first "live fire" hunt a couple weeks ago.

She was doing fine on marked retrieves on the river but was having issues with blind retrieves. I knew what she needed was to have success on the blinds. This past Wednesday may have been her breakthrough.

I had two clients and we were targeting geese. Molly was named to the starting lineup. You are on your own girl. No back up today.

It was quite warm in the morning and the geese started coming off the roost shortly after shooting time. The first bunch was six Canadas. They dropped into the pocket at 20 yards. Shortly after I called the shot, four geese hit the ground. Molly was sitting outside the pit in the decoys. She remained rock steady just like we had done hundreds of times in training.

Ken - Molly - Nate

Three were dead and we had one walker. I assumed Molly had marked all of the geese, but I wanted to get her on the live one first.  I walked her to the side of the decoy spread. Heeled her up and gave her a line. She fired out like a 1500 fps shot shell. She was at slightly less than warp speed when she ran over the goose. She wheeled and picked up the goose and brought it to heel and delivered to hand. Maybe all that practice is finally paying off. She nailed the three other geese in similar fashion. Proud Papa indeed.

As I took her back to her assigned location in the decoys, she kept looking to the north of the spread. When I told her to sit she came around to heel and it was obvious she was locked in on something. Then I saw it. A fifth goose had fallen and she marked them all. I gave her the command and she retrieved the fifth goose. The last three geese for our limit were retrieved in the same manner.

Proud Papa and Labrador Retriever
Limit by 8:30 and a Labrador Retriever that may have grasped the play book.