Nov 17 Tuesday 38°F - scouted for geese on Thorson Pond and a good bunch was there...trained Pounce & Gigi...did on lead OB sessions indoors.....planned to hunt tomorrow. However, the next day will be warmer.
Nov 18 Wednesday - I was up at 5:30 am and sat on the edge of my bed for 15 minutes discussing "Today or wait  a day?" When you are 80 years old that is done almost habitually. Finally, the voice of reason says, "You are awake....might as well get it over with." From that moment on, it is easier. The ritual of layering clothes begins plus making sure body functions will last at least until noon. The sun is just peeking over the barns to the south as we arrive (me, Pounce and Gigi). Gigi goes so as to not have a barking dog in the house when Pounce and I are hunting. The five minute drive does not take long and soon, Pounce is running around on the bank of Thorson Pond as I throw out a different look of floating decoys. They are close to the shore and very realistic. I know we are early, but that is much better than being late. The cold wind found another way to sneak into the blind and several minutes were spent clearing that issue up. Since my hearing is not very good geese can get close before I know it. However, it was over an hour before the first flight. Two flocks flew east and south of us. Then the wind picked up. It got windier and colder. Checking the camera time (later), it was almost 9:30 am when the meaningful action began. A rather large group boldly came right in. Pounce and I
were ready. The anxious feeling of converting to shooting left-handed has almost vanished. I shot three times and two geese were down hard in the pond. Pounce quickly retrieved the closer one and was soon coming back with a second. As I bent over to take that goose, two legs each brandished a band. It has been several years since the last one......but two?? This was magical. It will be interesting to see where they were banded.

Nov 4 Wednesday- scouted for action & both dogs had the day off - no training

Nov 5 Thursday - scouted & geese are loafing somewhere....very warm for the next six days...At dusk, Gigi
and Pounce ran a big, seven bumper lining drill to the left and then right (in the yard).....then played with two
hand thrown triples. It was a quick, easy and fun way to get in exercise and practice lining/delivery skills.
Nov 6 Friday - sunny with a high of 74°F.....scouted for geese movement......then I found where some were "parked"....trained both dogs at dusk after running errands....Gigi ran the seven bumper lining drill again (right and left). Gigi's retrieving skills at the line have become more consistent and automatic. Her mind, instincts and skills sets are beginning to mesh. Pounce was up next and the sun was down. However, the white bumpers were still visible. The I-Phone flash helped on the photo.       

In the afternoon, Pounce and Gigi each did another yard session of "whistle sit". After analyzing Pounce's issue, the next several sessions was focused on reducing the loop. Since Gigi is not nearly as "loopy", the focus of her sessions was to continue the process of exorcising the wolf.  It is not necessary to shake and break the neck of a bumper.
Nov 12
Thursday - 6:42 am sunrise at 32°F with a south wind of 4 mph (not in my face)....Pounce's turn. We
arrived at 7 am and parked south of the blind behind the small barn. As soon as the UTV started up a mallard flushed off of the pond (150 yards away). Geese do not arrive that early. Pounce and I were soon tucked into the blind and nothing moved for over an hour. Then one "loner" dropped in and did not leave.
About an hour later five swooped in and landed behind the blind in the bean field (south of the blind). This blind is not suited for shooting that way and they flushed as I fumbled to try. Not long after, a group of four duplicated  the same routine and I adjusted to drop our second goose. So far, the morning was very unusual in that geese were showing up in small groups. About thirty minutes later, another single came right it and just like that, Pounce picked up our third big goose for a limit (only used three #2's out of the box). To top it off we were "Out of Dodge" quickly and not very many geese were educated this morning. This had to be the most efficient hunt EVER on Thorson Pond.

Nov 9 Monday - high of 76°F - scouted late morning (no geese)...bought rope & gloves - trained in the late afternoon. Gigi and I decided to give the "no rope & gloves approach" a pass. The decision to work close and manipulate positions began to take shape. Suddenly, her eye contact improved (because the distance had been reduced) and I used a different, louder whistle. As the session progressed, her quick turns and sits with eye contact began. It was not a brief session. Gigi has no quit in her and lives to retrieve. Today was a game changer (for both of us). Pounce had the day off.
                         note: high Wednesday....much colder
Nov 10 Tuesday - high of 71°F with scattered thunder storms - trained in the yard and just did beat the rain...Gigis work was rigorous and upbeat. Her deliveries at the line continue to improve. The "wolf" still appears at times. Pounce was next and her loopy sit is very well entrenched. It is a work in progress. Both sessions were physically challenging and slept well before a late airing.  Scouting for geese has been frustrating as the very warm weather pushed them back into summer mode - loafing and grass. 

Nov 15 Sunday - After yesterday and viewing the forecast, today was a "no brainer". In northern Illinois, at
3 pm it is 39°F with west winds of 20-30mph and gusts up to 50 mph. Tomorrow will be interesting (or not) to see how the goose blind deals with this weather. Scouting on Monday and Tuesday should reveal the rest of the week's goose hunting schedule. It will be warm enough to delay any ice issues and hunting from now on will be a bonus. 
Nov 16 Monday - scouted for geese, none on Thorson Pond..cold and windy...train Gigi and Pounce indoors Tuesday and Wednesday mornings - cold...Depending on scouting reports, there will be no goose hunting until late in the week. Freeze up will bring a brief influx from the north and timing is often sketchy as they move thru to the south. The following photos are examples of some of "those" ending winter days. 

Thorson Pond - east end (25 yards across)

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Nov 1 Sunday...train Gigi on the art of a goose Gigi and Pounce will do a skill set training session. I cannot hunt every day and must be selective. Scouted for geese yesterday and since the weather
will be excellent until at least the middle of November, the next hunt will not be until next Tuesday morning. The decision as to what makes for a good morning to hunt is whether I will need a hand warmer (or not). The weather forecast predicts that I could go hunting every day for two weeks. My 80 year old body disagrees.
                    The following photos are a few examples of previous, telephoto scouting reports. 
10/18                           10/28                           10/28                           10/28                          10/30

Nov 2 Monday....cold and windy, scouted and geese were on the pond.....a day off will mean more geese and a rested hunter. Gigi did a more structured session of learning how to get a grip on a big goose. A pile drill was setup. Gigi's first retrieves were a couple of big white bumpers.  The next small pile was three Dokken Mallards. Then the big, heavy goose Dokken was hammered and retrieved three times. Lastly, the two big geese from yesterday were vet wrapped (a bit) to cut down on floppy wings, legs and the head. These retrieves were much better than yesterday. Much better should be tempered with fact that yesterday was not close to good. We need to get a goose in the water because the dynamics change quite a bit for the better. Swimming will slow Gigi down and "stuff" will not be shaking and flopping nearly as much. It was a good session....mostly because progress was somewhat measurable and encouraging.
Nov 3 Tuesday...much warmer with promising scouting from yesterday. I informed my 80 year old body that it will get out of bed willingly in the morning. Once moving, it was not all that bad. Gigi and Pounce went along in the van and we arrived before sunrise.....not by much. With the UTV, setting up does not take long. And it was not long before I dropped a double right in front of the blind. They were about 15 yards apart. The best thing about this situation was no wind....not even a slight breeze. So for a moment, I looked at the situation and decided to wait for the third goose and a limit. Well, that did not materialize. And the more I thought about it, I finally decided to take Pounce back to the van where Gigi was probably sleeping and trade retrievers. Pounce was not at all happy with my decision. To make this journal entry a bit shorter....Gigi was about as good as I could have wished for. She immediately spotted both geese and lined up perfectly relaxed and ready to fire. Yesterday's thoughts about water and geese were on the money. Gigi did two very good retrieves from water and big geese were not an issue. Gigi was cool with both of them and has now been officially "goosed". Lost in the shuffle of this morning's hunt was the fact that shooting lefty has been "easy"

                   note: As we drove by the pond on the way home, a quick telephoto shot back at the blind 

                             revealed that not all the geese are aware of the situation.
                   note: Tomorrow is recuperation time......scouting yes.......hunting no.

right click on icon for larger photo

right click on icons for larger photos

Nov 29, 30 Sunday & Monday - scout for geese activity - trained indoors both days...finished initial plans for the new goose decoy placement on Thorson Pond. Hopefully, there were will be time to practice it at least once before "ice out" ends the goose season. It will be "iffy" (lows in the 20's, highs in the 40's). 
                                   note: If not, there will be plenty of time to practice next summer.

Kwick analysis - identified weakest links in Pounce and Gigi's skill sets
               Gigi - #1 with no doubt it is whistle sits, excitability is #2, noise in the van is #3
                         whistle sit approach will be to go back to "Up close" approach and then the "rope"
                         if necessary...the van issue is already being applied and working while the "van to the
                         line" routine continues to be stressed              
                Pounce - #1 loose some weight, line manners have improved - need more (could be
                          deceiving because of training alone) and will work on a tighter sit on blinds

Nov 14 Saturday - arrived before sunrise and was setup was COLD with strong winds out of

the south east. Fortunately, that was not an issue as the blind faces to the north. It was comfortable in
the blind and with breathable chest waders plus dressed in layers, my hunting coat was not needed. That
seemed to be working well until we were finished. When picking up everything...out in the was
miserably cold. Today, the geese seen in yesterday's scouting did not show up. However, around 9:30 am,
five geese flew right over the blind and one was dropped behind in the bean field. Getting out of the blind
to run Pounce was not a "quick do" and proved costly. The goose apparently was not dead and simply flew
off. With the flat, harvested, no cover bean field it was obvious that I had made a rookie mistake.  Using
the UTV, a quick run up the bean field with Pounce searching out front nothing showed. After loading the
UTV and running it back into the trailer, the five minute drive to a warm house was a good thing.

Nov 19-20 two days (Thursday-Friday) of getting ready for winter....The mild weather has lulled geese into inaction while Gigi and Pounce have been practicing their OB.....regularly. It will be several, cold months to think about the next year's activity. Mostly, the idea of preparing for hunt tests is on the "back burner".

Nov 21 Saturday - garage was "sanitized". The clutter is gone. There is more room for "stuff" and we can now get one car.....inside.          The snow blower is ready.
Nov 22 Sunday - scout for geese and train/exercise Gigi & Pounce...high in the upper 40's....Not not thinking about December, January and February is a loosing proposition. 
Nov 23 Monday - geese are hiding and not moving....both Gigi and Pounce did some basic OB drills indoors. The rest of the day was spent getting ready for tomorrow......first snow fall. Also, there was some time spent figuring out how to be more effective with goose decoy placements on Thorson Pond. Right in the water near the shore or up on the grassy shoreline do not look especially natural. Therefore, a decision to try using a long line approach was made. With a long line run from one side to the other and back, seven decoys can be rotated into the pond and then back out. The rope would be a permanent "thing" during the season. Long line clips would easily space each decoy and wind direction should not be much of a problem (the "wind thing" may be wishful thinking). There will only be a few more hunts and the initial time for experimenting should be done now rather than waiting until next season (extra information).

right click on icon for larger photo

right click on icons for larger photos

Nov 11 Wednesday - high of 49°F......goose hunting depends on scouting reports - late morning photos about 30 minutes apart were positive...plan for Thursday morning hunt - It will be cold.
                         note: The first photo suggests at least three different groups.  

The above idea is now an alternative. Leaving lines in the water could present a problem.  In a week, the weather will end goose hunting on the out is coming. This essentially means maybe a few more days to hunt. Given the forecast and other Internet suggestions, the idea about using a bow fishing rig to shoot an initial line to the other side seems quicker and more efficient.....for next year.

The last several years, Thorson Pond's water pond level went up and the high water killed quite a few tall pines on the north side. Also, it became too muddy to mow/whack weeds on the north shoreline. Worse yet, several of the dead trees have fallen. That is one reason why I moved the blind to the south side. My son help me clear the clogged ducts and the water level went down. Next spring, the tall weeds on the north shore will be mowed/ more mud. Running my UTV around that side will make a diver like, long line placement of decoys simpler and faster with nothing left in the water after each hunt.

Nov 24-6 Tues-Thur...cold, windy and snow one day....which melted in short time...geese are not moving. Gigi and Pounce are training indoors (OB on the deck around the indoor swimming pool). Next week, the nightly temperatures will be in the low 20's and Thorson Pond pond will freeze over.  Sometimes, a winter thaw in December is long enough for one more goose hunt. On an interesting side note, there were only five people in the house for Thanksgiving with four generations being represented. Their ages were 101, 80, 78, 50 and 10 years old. 
Nov 27 Friday - repeat of yesterday with probably no geese on Thorson Pond
Nov 28 Saturday - warmer...scouting revealed no geese.....sweater weather....Pounce and  Gigi trained in south land area (bean field) of the Thorson Pond DTA. A known point blind was run on three different lines with Gigi and then Pounce. Gigi then came back out and ran a seven Dokken lining drill. This was a regular skill practice and exercise day for Gigi. For Pounce, it was simply exercise.

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Pounce's Thorson Pond Goose Hunt

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The 2nd from last last icon is a "photo scouting" report from the day before. The number of geese in front of my blind is almost exactly the same number that came in the next morning. After all the "hoopla"         of shooting an eighteen year old (or more), double banded goose, I had some misgivings about what to do with it. Having a mount came up first and was soon dismissed when discovering the cost. Then again this was not just any old goose. Adding the goose's banding history to the KwickLabs' Goose Bands page was the next best alternative.  The last icon/photo is a copy of the reward band check. In another thread (on reward bands) a goose hunter replied that he did not cash his check and instead framed it. I was undecided (for not too long of a moment) and promptly took a snapshot of the check...then cashed it.

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Nov 13 Friday high of 38°F - Scouted for geese at noon and sunrise is at 6:45 am tomorrow. It will be 29°F
                 note: checked journal for Nov 7th last year....Thorson Pond was almost iced over. There
                           was a thaw a couple of weeks later and Pounce had one more goose hunt Dec 25th.

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About twenty minutes later, a group buzzed over the blind (headed south) and disappeared. After a few minutes, I stood up to see if they had landed in the stark, no cover, bean field. They had not, but there was something out there about 100 yards that looked like a dead goose. Pounce was sent from the goose blind to run a blind. When excitedly she grabbed on, there were floppy parts. However, her body language was way ahead of the actual pickup. My third shot had not totally failed and this retrieve completed a three goose limit for Illinois. Thinking back to the early morning when I had to talk myself into going hunting, it will be extremely difficult to duplicate this hunt.....but more than time, I'll just simply go and be done with it.  

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Nov 7 Saturday - sunny, 72°F...scouted at 9 pm - no geese...yard work = oak leaves mulched/lawn mowed
Nov 8 Sunday - sunny, high 74°F...9:30 am scouting - no geese & one lonely mallard...train - Gigi will did the "Kwick Lining Drill" (whistle sits were not good) and finished by running the shortest leg of a known point blind picking up the Dokken goose. Pounce ran the longest line of the point blind (exercise).