Spent the morning in my goose blind and was treated to this sunrise and plenty of time to think and look around because the hundreds of geese raised in our neighborhood have moved out. At least temporarily. My plastic geese look like they're enjoying green shoots but that's as fake as they are. No rain, no green shoots. Still, on the positive side, no rain for five weeks means no mosquitoes.
A goshawk, late to migrate, works the hayfield for perhaps the last time this season with his familiar flap, flap, flap, sail flight. With the light come the ever-present crows, always moving west in the morning to wherever they feed. A few are drawn to my decoys by curiosity but flair away when they spot me.
A dandy buck, still in velvet, cautions his way down a fence line 300 yards from me. Three steps is all he allows between his 360 degree scans for trouble. On his way to bed no doubt after a night of munching my neighbor's corn. He takes a long look at my decoys but decides not to investigate further.
Suddenly three big birds, wings set and on final approach to my spread sending me to crouch and gun. But when they warble their distinctive call they get a free pass. Sandhill cranes. I shoulder my Remington and pull ahead of their long beaks, safety on, just to spite them for alarming me. They don't even notice and fly on to graceful landings on a knoll to my east.
The sun is now warming instead of decorative. It feels good with the air temp at 38. I pour a cup of coffee from my battered Stanley thermos. It has outlived four of my Labradors and traveled thousands of miles with me in search of waterfowl.
My neighbor and friend, Marv, creeps down the gravel road a quarter mile from me in the township grader. It's a habit he's endured for 51 years and counting. I am privileged to be hiding in his cornfield. As he passes, dust billowing from the ends of the blade, a distant bird with a wing beat too steady for a crow approaches. His heading will take him east of me. I hear the murmuring now. A lone goose looking for company. I light up my Ken Martin call and get a response. He turns into his crosswind using his primary feathers like ailerons on a Cessna. When he wheels into final approach focused my my decoys I am shaking with the predictable Honker tremor. I miss him cleanly on the first shot but connect on the second for my first goose of the season.