- Published on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 13:12
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My phone buzzed last week with an invitation from Chris Jabs of Jabs Construction, offering me a spot on a field goose hunt in the James River Population Zone west of here. Jabs and I have often hunted together and we have also fished together. Jabs had booked a trip with Teddy Carr of Outdoor Action. You might recognize the name. Carr guides bass anglers on local rivers and lakes.
Previously I had thought my season for waterfowl was over. But after mulling over the amount of chores I had and considering one last whack at putting some goose in the freezer it was a no brainer. I called Jabs back and accepted.
I had never hunted with Carr before but at the Wild Outdoors Event I did get to see his videos and table advertising his business. They were set up near our outdoor photos table. At that time I decided that if funds allowed I would give him a try. I just did not realize it would be the next week!
I was joining Jabs, Bill Richbourg of King George and Tom Berger, all friends of Jabs. They shoot together at Fairfax Rod and Gun Club. I cannot forget Big Ben, Jabs’ retriever either. Ben is a great dog that is driven, easy going and desires to do his job repeatedly.
If you recall how last Saturday’s weather was you might remember hearing the wind screeching as you slept in. What I remember is that wind howling, tree branches slapping my house and having to get out of bed at 3 a.m. It was all good though. I felt confident that I would see some big honkers with landing gear down and wings outstretched as they poured into a field. That is a sight I don’t get to see often, but could never tire of. I love to goose hunt and of course we enjoy eating it too.
Last minute changes in plans due to the weather had my truck going north to Nokesville instead of west to Orange, but the drive time was the same. After quick introductions were made, I jumped into another layer of clothes over my Under Armour base layer. The wind was slicing through clothes like a sharp knife and the thought of laying in a cold field in a cold blind with no wind break while the rest of you were snuggled up in a warm bed begs for a mental examination.
Still, I would much rather be cold and smiling as those black, white and gray jumbos came wobbling down, wings outstretched to Carr’s prearranged landing strip!
Our set up included a farm field (of course), a pond behind us that would later end up being a goose magnet, a series of layout blinds, and some Big Foot dekes, Carr did much of the calling but we had a steady rotation of other guides calling and cleaning up our shots too. His guides really make a field set up come alive. When those boys started chattering and honking back and forth I would have not been surprised to see a few dekes get up and fly off; they were that good.
We were not to be disappointed despite the horrible wind. Birds came in as many as a dozen and a half in number at times. The fence line we were backed up against cut our profile a little bit and the layouts Carr had us hunkered down in did the job. Shots were tough only because of the wind. When the shout came to “Take ‘em,” we did our best to get up, snap off safeties and put steel downrange. However, the birds would backpeddle, flare a bit and the wind literally sucked them away from us in mere seconds. For those of you who don’t goose hunt, the birds land into the wind. Since the wind was blowing away from us it also gave the geese a bit of assistance in pulling out of range.
Still, we managed to put down 15 birds before lunch and that was quite good considering that most of the birds changed their daily pattern of coming to the field to feed and instead decided the wind made the pond a few hundred yards behind us look more attractive. Jabs and Richbourg were set up in the choke zone and Jabs did a few double taps to take down pairs.
Ben got to retrieve quite a bit and did a nice job putting his jaws around those big hunks of feathers and proudly brought them back. I was a bit surprised and humored when he brought me a goose that I missed completely and the guide had hit. My shooting was evidently in the poor category.
With all that steel and non-toxic shot pouring downrange it was tough to tell though who really hit a certain bird. Regardless, Ben has a big heart and sympathy is one of his good traits. As you can imagine he made quick friends with me!
While the season is nearly out - Feb. 15 for the James River Population Zone - I look forward to drawing a bead on those big honkers come September. If you don’t have access to fields (like me) you might consider booking Carr. I found his hunt to be professional and his setup to be productive.