Ex-lineman blocks out plenty of hunting time

Bill Burton

December 18, 1990|By Bill Burton

KENNEDYVILLE -- "San Francisco is tough; it's hard to think they won't do it again," said the big guy at the other end of the goose blind.

His credentials were enough to convince me -- and this day he also convinced me of his shooting prowess. He gets a lot of practice. His hunting itinerary is awesome.

Since the pro football season started, he has shot waterfowl in Ontario, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Montana and Illinois, pheasants in Iowa, not to mention a trip to Poland for wild boar. Also, he has scored a Grand Slam in sheep: a desert in Mexico, dall in Alaska, big horn and stone in British Columbia.

So where does he go from here? The next day he was heading to Tilghman House at Tilghman Island to gun sea ducks at the mouth of the Choptank, then it would be back home to Appleton, Wis., and more hunting -- especially for waterfowl.

Earlier this year he sold his wholesale electrical business, so now he just goes where the hunting and fishing is best. No schedule and no rigorous training as in the days when he was one of the toughest of NFL offensive linemen -- not to suggest he needs any training.

Meet Bob Skoronski, whose configuration today at age 56 is not much unlike it was in 13 seasons, including two championships, as offensive captain of the Green Bay Packers.

Our guide Jerry Haggerty moved decoys about in skim ice on the pond, but rough weather doesn't phase Skoronski. This member of the Packers' Hall of Fame has seen it as tough as it comes.

"I was in that championship game with Dallas when it was snowing and 20 below," Skoronski said.

"He was shivering for two days afterward," added his brother Ted, once a center for Harvard and now an attorney in Darby, Conn.

I recalled, too, that he was playing opposite Ordell Braase in that miserable game at soggy Memorial Stadium when, in a London pea soup, Paul Hornung devastated the Colts.

"Ordell was one of the toughest guys I ever had to handle," Skoronski murmured as we crouched low while Haggerty, twice the runner-up in the World Goose Calling Championship, played a tune for a small flight of honkers. "If you ever see Ordell, tell him I was asking for him."

The geese set their wings. Skoronski stopped talking about his 21-foot Mako fishing boat to score on one, Ted got another, and so did their companion, Tony Roginel. Like Ted, Roginel hails from Darby, Conn., where goose shooting isn't much.

A combination of the stuffed decoys in the field and floaters on the pond, along with Haggerty's calling, soon brought enough birds that we filled our bag of two each. So what does an outdoor fanatic do when the bag is filled before 10 a.m.? Try for something else, of course.

Kennedyville outfitter, farmer and hybrid rockfish aquaculturist Floyd Price booked the goose hunt. He suggested we try his latest endeavor: flighted mallard duck shooting on another of his Kent County farms. There we were joined by Tom Geist, who handles much of the fish farming for Price.

The shooting was as natural as could be hoped for with pen-reared mallards. We perched in a blind on a pond, and the plump ducks whizzed by. Soon the Skoronskis and Roginel were wondering how they would get all their game home.

On a preserve, one is allowed all the ducks he can afford at a tab of $15 each. "Floyd's got something going for him here," said Geist. "Hunters who get their geese early appreciate the extra shooting."

The minimum is 10 ducks, and we had about 20, all corn fed and thick breasted.

The regulated shooting area will soon have many more ponds and fields as clearing progresses, with acres of trees left for wildlife. Price already books parties for deer, and he plans on upland game hunting including pheasants and chukkars.

As overall interest in Canada goose shooting wanes, primarily due to tightened regulations, he figures he needs a more rounded menu for his hunters. Probably the biggest dirt farmer on the upper Eastern Shore, Price realizes he can't make it on depressed soybean, corn, vegetable and honker harvests alone.


The scheduled meeting of the Maryland Striped Bass Advisory Board, set for tonight in Annapolis, has been postponed. A new date in January will be announced soon.

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