Ruff's first geese made many meals, memories

Well, here we are in a new year. It seems like just last week I consumed the last of the dried beans we had stored up for the “Y2K” thing. This year will probably be the start of many things to come for rural folks and those of us who like to shoot. We will just have to keep our “ears to the ground” for upcoming legislation concerning firearms and outdoor activities.

By the time we read this, hunting season for 2008-09 will be just about over. We might have some type of extended goose season still open. (Always check with the wildlife agency in the state that you intend to hunt in for exact dates and regulations.)

If you plan to goose hunt in the coming days, be looking for heavier shot now: 2s, 4s, BBs or whatever your shotgun will “pattern” the best.

Buying a box now will ensure at least 25 shots if a buddy calls, “Hey, the geese are in one of my wheat fields; want to make a hunt this evening?”

Being able and ready to go will often make for an enjoyable outdoor adventure with buddies. I am reminded of an event that occurred several years ago with my boy, Ruff. We were feeding a set of cows 5 or 6 miles from the house and having to haul hay to the pasture. Ruff was probably 13 years old and was driving the truck. I was on a tractor.

As I was unloading the hay, Ruff called on the radio, “Daddy, look at those geese in the wheat field on the other side of the bayou.” I finally got oriented and sure enough, the geese were just boiling into the place.

Then the most dreaded sound that one wants to hear: “Daddy, while you finish putting out hay, I'm fixing to sneak up on them and shoot them.” People, listen to me. It was cold, it was late, and it was wet. But I figured he couldn't get up close enough to kill a goose out in an open field. So I radioed, “OK, be careful.”

I had finished feeding and was out of the tractor when the shooting started. You've never heard so much racket in your life. The first three-round volley out of the Winchester pump gun sounded like a three-round burst out of a “Black rifle,” then it slowed down a bit as, I suspected, he was loading the chamber.

Geese were making the noise they make when perhaps 2,000 took flight. When the shooting stopped, there was nothing for me to do but go see. In a pair of leather boots I finally got to where Ruff was. Now out of shells, he was running them down.

It was near dark when we finally choked the last one down and we were at least a half-mile from the truck.

After getting back to the house, Ruff decided he wanted to show Pricie, my Mama, his geese. That's good, I thought to myself. My folks came along in the “eat what you had” era of killing hogs, chickens and such. Our job as kids was to get the chickens in Mama's hands whether we ran them down and wrung their necks or shot them.

Bottom line: Mama knows how to pick chickens, ducks, etc. We picked geese, “skunt” them, breasted them out and salvaged geese for a while.

Likewise, we eat geese fried, in gumbo, smoked, in sandwiches and any other way geese can be cooked in the South. And you know, I don't think we took one picture of Ruff's first geese.

I'll bet you if you called Ruff right now and said, “Let's go goose hunting,” he'd be there as quick as he could. I just don't know where these younguns get this hunting and shooting from.

If you get a chance, take a kid fishing or hunting. For that matter, take anyone. One doesn't have to kill to enjoy our outdoors. Some of the best meals and friends are made “at the camp.”

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