Bag your limit of 'talking,' too, to offset one-bird limit

OUTDOORS

November 17, 1992|By PETER BAKER

TRAPPE -- Shortly past first light yesterday, the geese were beginning to rise from their rest and babbling among themselves as they exercised their wings and looked for a place to light and feed. And, from the darkness in the corner of the blind, Kevin Lyon was talking back.

For more than 30 minutes, ducks had been pitching in to a pond beyond a tree line to our east. Locking up and gliding into a continuum of silence in the distant shadows.

A flight of more than a dozen Canadas, having abruptly broken off a brief exchange with Lyon, banked toward the far pond and locked into a glide.

Seconds later, the continuum was ended by the echoes of gun shots; some of the geese that pitched into the far pond almost in unison escaped the shadows and scattered; goose season had begun.

"I don't know if we would have shot at those geese, anyway," said Lyon, who has been guiding waterfowling parties for a decade.

His reasoning was that with a one-bird limit for the first 20 days of the season, there was no sense in "educating" a large number of birds. The trade-off was not worth it.

"When you shoot at such a large number at this time of the season," said Lyon, who is a guide for Fly-by Island Inc., "you teach them not to fly to that same place again.

"A goose is not as dumb as it looks. Some might even call him ignorant. But he will learn where the hot action is and go elsewhere."

On this neck of land in Talbot County, Bo Kennedy, who runs Fly-by Island, works hard to keep the geese out of the know.

The one-bird limit undoubtedly has made that task easier, but for Kennedy and most of the Maryland guides, the limit has killed business.

At 5:30 yesterday morning, Kennedy had five parties on their way to blinds or property he owns or leases. For the rest of the week, he said, he has three bookings, and the outlook for the balance of the first 20 days is equally as bleak.

"It [the one-bird limit] has hurt me as much as it has hurt everybody else," said Kennedy, who controls some seven miles of shoreline along La Trappe Creek and the Choptank River. "But I deal with the hunters a lot rather than the shooters.

"A shooter likes to see how many he can kill, and he doesn't like to stop.

"Your hunters come out here and they like to see the birds fly, and they want to work with the birds."

Lyon was working hard to practice what Kennedy preaches, calling to pairs and triplets, often getting them to turn and circle the spread of silhouette decoys in front of the blind before they would slide away toward the tree line to the south, toward a sanctuary pond Kennedy maintains.

"That is the trick of it," Kennedy said later, "to have the resting areas for them to be jumping back and forth from -- from their rests to the feeding areas."

Because of the location of the pond, Kennedy said, he is almost always able to give hunters and the geese a fresh look. When they rise in the morning, Kennedy reasons, no matter which way the geese head, they must pass over blinds he controls in local fields and along the seven-mile shoreline.

"You figure the wind and the weather, the moon and the cloud cover," Kennedy said, "and then you decide which side of the [sanctuary pond] you are going to set up on. If you are selective about the groups of birds you shoot, you can maintain the flyways almost all the way through the season."

Kennedy said that as he has lost shooters who no longer are willing to pay $100 a day per man for the chance to shoot one goose, he has picked up business from deer hunters, parties who want to photograph geese and more parties of women hunters.

"It seems it is more of a sport to it than just killing birds," Kennedy said. "I think because of that more women want to get out here and see what is going on."

Kennedy's guides are instructed to try to tailor the birds called in to the size of the party they are guiding.

In our case, the birds brought in might be as few as two or as many as a half dozen. With but two shooters, there was no need for more.

With the sun full up and the thin frost gone, a quartet of Canadas came low and silent over the tree line to the south. Lyon picked them up and started calling.

The four banked and locked up, then pitched in among the spread.

Two shots. Two birds. Day 1 done.

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