Lack of geese could ruin spring break

Kevin Kantack

Kevin Kantack

If you ask me, late February is the slowest time of year. While I am smack-dab in the middle of winter purgatory, I begin to burn out on fishing through a hole in the ice and it’s still too early to hunt almost anything. It leaves me reminiscing about fall hunts and desperately looking forward to the first time my boat is able to leave the dock. It makes me crazy.

The one thing that preserves my sanity is the eventual arrival of my spring break party pals – the snow geese. I never seem to have the money for exotic spring break vacations so I hunt geese as a substitute. I scrape together what money I can find and buy steel shot in lieu of Mexican liquor. Unfortunately, my spring break adventure relies solely on the geese making a timely arrival. Making northern South Dakota their spring break “hot-spot.”

Until recently I was confident the skies would once again be filled with geese over spring break. But bipolar winter weather has made it apparent the bulk of the birds might miss the “party” my shotgun and I are so eagerly waiting to throw.

For me, watching geese scream overhead is a religious experience. And when they make a beeline for nesting grounds on the arctic tundra, it is among the first signs the world is once again coming alive.

There are those that are actually good at goose hunting. But apparently I’m not one of them, even though I love the hunt just the same. Usually I’m left watching geese fly somewhere near the stratosphere and spiral straight down into a cornfield well out of shotgun range. But on that rare occasion when thousands of geese tear through the sky overhead the experience, is nothing short of breathtaking.

Once, as an ambitious 15 year-old, I crawled an entire half section of fence line within yards of unsuspecting geese. I was equally unaware of the thundering cloud of birds I was about to launch. As I shot to my feet and faced what became a wall of panicking geese, I managed to pull the trigger only once. To this day I still think about that moment with a smile wondering how many would have fallen from that aerial avalanche had I not been completely awe struck. The birds nearly scared me to death.

Moments like that is what makes goose hunting worth it.

But for now, I can only sit on the ice catching bottle bass as I dream of the white geese once again blackening the skies. We can only hope the geese arrive in time for spring break or better yet before this article makes it to the stands. But if the geese decide not to show, it will be a cold and lonely break without them.

Kevin Kantack is a junior wildlife and fisheries major.

#1.884938:2931311942.jpg:kevinmug.jpg:Kevin Kantack, Columnist: