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Swimming for Specs

By Steve Van Ert

As I am doing the breast stroke out 50 yards, and wishing my pup was ready to retrieve! It is 6:32pm and light is fading fast as I reach out for the first of four specks I dropped just a few minutes before. However, I have waited a long time for these birds, and I am not letting them go just because there in 8 feet of water!

Earlier this afternoon I debated whether I should even bother going back out. I saw, and shot, only one duck (a hooded merganser) during the morning hunt. Besides, I had been out there so many times before without being able to get to get close enough to the geese that always seemed to be at the opposite end from where I was. I finally convinced myself that, if nothing else, maybe I’ll get a couple of great pictures. So I grabbed my camo, waders and some extra clothes. I have heard that geese are pretty stupid animals. As long as I was not moving around much, I might have a chance that they would land within shooting distance.

It was 4:30pm and not a bird on the pond. I trudged to the far end of the pond where I have often seen large flocks of geese hang out around the shore. The green weeds were no more than 4″ tall so I was not confident that I would be well enough concealed. So I picked a spot just five yards off of the water and settled in on top of my gear bag, with a camo poncho over my legs. I drifted in and out of sleep a few times and then starting texting my girlfriend.  No birds in sight and it is 6:00PM, almost end of shooting hours.

I ended the texting, rearranged my gear and gun and listened intently. 6:14pm and I hear a faint call. Hope! Two minutes later I spot the flock off on the horizon. Seven minutes later, their wings set, and they are landing Specs on Iceforty yards in front of me! I jumped up, firing twice. One bird is still moving on the water so I fire again. The flock is back in the air; however, I am staring in disbelief out into the water. FOUR GEESE! I am losing light quickly so I jump out of my cameos and put on my waders.

Just ten feet off of the shore and it is clear to me that waders are not going to help! I hurriedly strip off the waders and everything else except my boxers and a lightweight under shirt. By now two geese have separated from the others. I jumped in and furiously swam to the first two, grabbed them by their necks and kicked my way back to shore. The wind was picking up has I swam the last hundred yards to shore pulling my geese along with me. I dumped the first two birds and ran, barefoot through the goat head stickers to the south side of the pond. After another cold swim, I retrieved the last two geese and brought them to shore.

As I am moving in the dark from one spot to the other, gathering my belongings, two more flocks drop in on the pond in front of me. Wet, cold, tired and very much over joyed with my results, I promise to come after them another time.