Right at Home

In January of 2015 I was living in Cheney going to school at Eastern Washington University. My roommate Tyler and I had bounced around living in many different places around town. The only problem was, where we lived never fit our life style. We were either always fishing or hunting. So naturally, things were always a mess and dirty. Rewind five months and there we were, looking for another place to live.

Tyler texted me one day telling me he had maybe found a place. He sent me some pictures and what would normally look like an unlivable pile of garbage to most people, it looked incredible to me. It was a good-sized doublewide trailer on a serious amount of property.

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Deal was, we fix up the place, rent is fair and we get to hunt. I thought, okay that would definitely work. I had no idea at the time what type of hunting it would be. In August, Cheney is a treed desert. Dry, dry, dry… Maybe we would get a few good deer hunts or the occasional turkey. Nothing more.

Jump back to mid January, the winter has been average cold with an average amount of snowfall. The year had produced many decent waterfowl hunts. Nothing incredible, but we had done well. The ground and most anything with water was frozen and most ducks and geese had moved out.

Keeping track of weather patterns is typical of any waterfowl hunter. We’re always looking for that drastic change. That drastic change was about to happen. The weather app was saying 50 degrees for the upcoming weekend. Fifty. I was thinking to myself, no way. No chance is it going to get up into the 50’s mid January. Either way I was going to watch it close. Sure enough, that Friday, it was warm. Tyler and I were getting ready to head to a couple of our “spots” to scout. We were loading up the truck when I looked out our back window and saw what were about 25 geese locked up on our property. I mean they were dive-bombing in.

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The property we were renting had a 200-yard wide trough running right through the middle of it, a low flat spot that could potentially flood if enough water was available. It had been an average winter and I didn’t think much of the area. After seeing those geese land in that general area we decided to check it out. We walked 100 yards out of our back door towards this high viewing point that looked over pretty much the entire property. Birds, we saw birds everywhere. I’m talking about mallards and Canadian geese, the best kind of birds around. They were absolutely everywhere. The ice had thawed and the entire fields were flooded with about a foot of water.

We immediately planned what we were going to do. Considering we could see the birds landing from our house, it shouldn’t be that hard. Saturday morning rolls around and we head down to set up. We bring four dozen full body goose big foots, a few dozen mallard floaters, a few layout blinds, and two of our buddies. We had to put our layouts up against the edge where a few pine trees were. Honestly, it was perfect cover right in the shadows. The only bad part (not really bad) was that the wind was a crosswind. We were facing west; wind was coming from the south. Not the worst thing in the world at all. Things started off crazy, a few groups of mallards started to pile in, along with a few groups of geese. We ended the morning taking a few limits of geese and a limit of ducks. Nowhere near the numbers we wanted.

Everything seemed to want to land 200-300 yards northeast of us, which was fine because it was still our property. So we picked up and got a plan together for the next morning.

After setting up the next morning things were slow. What happened? Where was everything? A few birds came down here and there, but nothing like the numbers we had been seeing. I was convinced that everything was just late. A little cold that morning and everything was late. A few of our buddies however, were not so convinced. By 10 am, three of us were left.

We decided to pick up and move for an afternoon hunt. This move was rather inconvenient because we had to cross a pretty good-sized creek that was full and flowing pretty well. Luckily, we found a frozen section and were able to carefully walk across. As I was walking our blinds over I stopped to look at what exactly I had to work with. We were at the skinniest part of the flat that runs through the property, maybe 25 yards wide, and then opens up again. We set up right on the fence line. Behind us are pine trees; in front of us is a wide-open flooded field. To the left is the skinny part of the field and to the right it open back up to 200 yards wide.

The field at this point was only partially open. Most of it was actually still frozen. Five yards in front of our blinds the water began but it was only open for another 15 yards after that. It was essentially a runway if everything lined up properly. We set a few decoys directly in front of us, while putting most of them on the ice 25 yards out. The wind again, was a cross wind, which in this situation was perfect.

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The three of us decided to go get lunch before hunkering down and hopefully getting a good hunt in. We weren’t even 200 yards away as we were leaving when a group of 8 geese locked up and landed in our spread. Let’s just say that got the blood pumping. We quickly got lunch and headed back.

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It was automatic. The wind was perfect, the spread was perfect and the hide was perfect. Everything was perfect. Groups would line up on our spread with limited calling and it was feet in the water every time. We got our 12-bird limit in an hour and half. We packed up, walked the 300 yards home, and that was that.

Being an avid waterfowl hunter. When things line up and you have, what I consider a perfect hunt in your own backyard, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Taylor Vold

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