Oct 29 The geese pattern was different this morning. Scouted at about 9:30 am and the pond area was full of geese. Checked back about noon and they were all gone. First guesses are It is getting colder, they need to feed more often and loafing is not a high priority. Pounce and I may be  sitting near a few decoys in the morning. Hopefully, it will be more than just sitting. This choice is "iffy" mostly because Tuesday will be several degrees colder. There is another factor  to consider.
              note: Pounce is in heat. The  obvious signs are 1) bleeding and 2) she is literally mauling
                        Daisy. Pounce is very physically aggressive in this time frame. The e-collar is
NOT
                       
being used to re-enforce that behavior. She has quickly learned the "Don't Do That"
                       
"response" and will ease into her sit and heel expectations. Those hormones are
                        powerful which means frequent 
re-minders have been necessary. "Sorry....I am not
                        myself!" is not an acceptable excuse. 
Oct 30 Based on yesterday's scouting the geese are not likely to be back. However, today is going to be much warmer than tomorrow morning. Pounce and I were ready by 7:30 am and if nothing showed we would still be far ahead in successful hunts compared  to previous years' efforts on the Mississippi River.  About 9 am things started to "sound" promising and very soon  two geese were "in the bag". After some quick action with the camera, we moved rapidly into the "get out of Dodge fast" process. It has been repeated quite a bit and now seems perfected. When arriving home, Pounce was given some yard-work practice on getting the right grip on geese. I think sometimes the excitement tends to override her skill set in this area. The good thing is that she is getting a lot of "chances" because our recent goose "action" has been spectacular. 

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Oct 25 Pounce and I were setup to hunt geese right at sunrise. After about a half-an-hour small groups were showing up and I "fanned" on two straight chances. Swinging to the left is accurate, but not so much the other way. Finally, "kinda" dropped one and had to "walk out" away from the blind to finish that one. Missed a couple more and then had to finish off the last one. Too many geese can be an issue. When picking up the decoys more just kept wanting in. Came back an hour later and a "bunch more" had settled in. Going to let it "cool down" for a couple of days. Then I noticed the box of  shells were steel  2 3/4 X 4"s and the two geese I shot had some pellets that just barely got beyond the feathers and skin (if that). Next time it will be 3" 2's.  

YouTube Video

Oct 28 Pounce had the day off from training or hunting. Time was spent preparing the initial "prep" of the "camo" front panel of the boat blind. The Cordura liner and plastic fencing were matched together hanging horizontally from a ten foot section of 3/4" EMT suspended on a rope. Once the top was secured by loose zip ties, the metal tubing was slid out leaving the rope in its place...after which the zip-ties were pulled tight. The next step is do more zip-ties across the full surface. The last steps are adding raffia and mounting the "blanket" on the boat blind framework.
             note: Today, the "former" dog training pond that has morphed into a spectacular goose
                       loafing pond was scouted and tele-photographed. The transformation has been
                       somewhat of an amazing sequence of circumstances started by keeping the 
                       shoreline cover short and safe. After loafing most of the day, in the late afternoon,
                       they all leave and head for a favorite, night time roost. In the last few years, the local
                      goose population has dramatically increased. Pounce's goose blind is on the X.

Pounce - Early Illinois Goose Season

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Oct 27 Cloudy, windy and cold weather could not sway the temptation to "hit" the pond early this morning. First thing was to place the decoys so they could be picked up quickly. When the wind is strong out of the west, geese have to be paying attention to how they approach the "landing zone" which means they are not focused on the details of their surroundings. At about 7:45 am a small group of five swung right in and one was dropped. Pounce and I were just ready to go into retrieve mode when another small group announced their arrival. We both scurried in the back door of the blind and "got ready" just in time to drop our second goose (which was/is the Illinois limit).

Both downed geese were right in front of us in the water and close. They were quickly retrieved and we immediately went into "Get out of Dodge" mode. While attempting to be invisible a few groups saw us and they left.


After "retrieving" the "goose van" (that was parked up the road), everything was loaded quickly. On the way out, there was time for an "observational interlude" from about three hundred yards away.  For the next thirty minutes, geese in several small groups used the wind to circle, maneuver and hover while finally using wing braking tactics with "flaps down" to drop into the small pond. The count went well over one hundred before the "awesome novelty of the moment" wore off. Our two geese were cleaned and in the "fridge" by 10 am.  Pounce is getting "goosed" really well.   

Oct 26 On a crisp Thursday morning, the pond was scouted at about 8:30 am. Evidently, the geese not getting shot at yesterday morning had returned. Even more had "piled in" and revealed a plethora of potential for tomorrow morning. In addition, the telephoto shots taken from afar later were exciting to edit. The plan for tomorrow morning will be three pronged 1) early in and out quickly, 2) only a few decoys and 3) shoot better.

Oct 22 There will be no goose/duck hunting today. There are rules to follow (most of the time). First of all, traveling to the Mississippi River to hunt is now relegated to about once every two weeks. Second, never hunt the pond two days in row unless a "freeze up" is eminent. Third, early in the season that "two days" rule is often stretched to three/four days. Fourth, scouting will determine the next goose hunt. Fifth, I never hunt in the rain (if it can be avoided). Sixth, Sunday is almost always "not available".  Last, eat geese/ducks cooked several different ways (regularly).  It is a long season (especially, when the freeze comes late). Rules tend to keep the pace "tolerable" and aid in making one not "appear to be" hopelessly obsessed. 
                      note: Today was a day off from training

                      note: No hunting either because 1) there is no scouting report, 2) we hunted
                                yesterday, 3) it is Sunday and 4) it is raining.  Rules make "things" easier. 
Oct 23 There will be no hunting this morning. Geese did not move in Sunday's all day rain.
                      note: scouted twice today (Monday)...they are back...not all came in at the same time
                      note: Pounce trained in the yard - another session of Stage #4 in Hillmann's heeling
                                and instead of an exciting bumper, a Dokken goose was used
                      note: worked on the boat blind and did the other "yard work" (mowed the lawn)
Oct 24 cold rain most of the day - worked on boat blind...scouted for geese mid-day...hunt tomorrow

                      note: Pounce did another Hillmann heeling session #4 (just like the one yesterday)
                                                               telephoto scouting results

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Oct 1 It is a cool, fall morning with 59°F at 9 pm. After Pounce's big effort on the "Down the Shore" standard (yesterday), today was easy by comparison. She did two brief sessions of Hillmann's heeling process (refer to link below).
Oct. 2 repeated Yesterday - two heeling sessions.....remaining in stage #2 (upbeat & fun)
Oct. 3, 4 days off (for Pounce) worked on boat & shore goose blinds and mowed the lawn
              note: Pounce seems to be doing fine with the present slower pace of training and
                        expecting a heat cycle soon (no signs yet).
              note: Spent most of the 4th at a car dealer negotiating an "upgrade" in a retriever van.  
                        I will be 84 years old when the new one is paid off. The old 1997 dog van has seen
                        better days.......rust finally won......and it's gone. 
Oct. 5,6,7 Pounce worked in the yard. The Ainley two dog aluminum crate was removed from the
old van and power washed. The new van is undergoing modifications to change it into a training and hunting "tool". Several seats were removed (eleven total) and a different flooring material was purchased. Until most of the  "modifications" are completed, Pounce will be doing "yard work". On the 7th, the van was taken to an RV dealer to have a hitch and trailer light wiring harness installed (towing package). No repair bills (for awhile)......just monthly payments and regular maintenance. 
               note: Waterfowl season begins in two weeks (much to do). Being retired is a full time job.
Oct. 8 Pounce worked twice (yard) - Hillmann's Stage #2 "Heeling" (precise practice, many more reps). The rest of the day was spent completing the dog crate installation in the new van  (sturdy ratchet tie-downs) and carpeting the floor area with a rubberized runner material. 
Oct. 9-12 Pounce did one session per day of very active "yard-work"/"heeling reps"
              note: limiting field work to twice a week with some daily exercise (sort of down time)
              note: Pounce has had a substantial number of Stage #2 "reps" ala Hillmann's Heeling  DVD
                       and the plan is to move on to stage #3 next week (Oct. 16th)
Oct 13 Pounce did one "heeling" session late in the afternoon. The rest of the day was spent on a design for loading the wingers into the new van and a trio to the lumber yard. After unloading, the wood from for the winger transport, I loaded all the lumber back into the van and returned all of it, This would end up being too heavy and with less room for hunting gear. I eliminated making anything permanent (vertical or horizontal). In the other van, winger were stacked on large furniture moving quilts which were easily accessible fomer the side and rear doors. With the Transit, this is not possible because of the height and location of the doors. Therefore, a "book binding" type horizontal setup would be ideal and allow wingers to be slid in between "pages" of carpeting. Pieces of carpet (runner width) were attached to a  2x4 with roofing nails. When empty the "winger transport" is just a few layers of carpeting (the pages). If necessary the "binding" can be detached and the "winger transport" can be removed by simply rolling up the carpet around the wood binding. The wingers slide in/out very easily and are protected by their carpet "pages". In addition, they "ride" with no vibration or noise.
                 note: Loading and unloading is easier than with the previous van.
                 note: For safety reasons, there are two fixed "tie downs".   
                 note: Total cost of the "on sale" carpet runner was about $30. Only had enough to do
                            four wingers "pages" for now because I ran out of carpet. 

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Oct 19 went to the pond early to weed whack a section of tall cover to the northeast (which is the inlet to the pond). This will make the east shoreline appear to be safer from any animal predators hiding in weed cover. Pounce did two sessions of Hillmann's Heeling in stage #4.  Late morning, Pounce ran five cold blinds across Thorson Pond from the goose blind side to the corn field.   
Oct 20 The pond was scouted twice and there was a small group using it. This is good....not many to educate in the morning. At mid-day Pounce trained at the Harrison Property running two triples in a flip-flop setup. Using a primer pistol, white coat at the line, three white "stick-men" stations in the field and flagged black/white bumpers, Pounce ran them in the stand alone, walking gunner and then walk back mode. Stepped on each mark in the triples (on a line) except for the very last one where she back-sided the gun and swooped around right to the AOF. Pounce rarely does this and it just seemed like she was playing around with her "zippiness". 
Oct 21 Pounce and I were at the pond before sunrise for the Illinois Opener" to "greet" a few geese. It was only a short, five minute drive. Setup did not take long and about an hour later seven geese sailed in not very cautiously and two did not leave. The ten decoys were very welcoming. "Just like that" opening day was over. It was very cool. Next up was to get out of the pond as fast as possible, but first there had to be a photo session. I was not fast enough because hundreds of geese were soon "all over the place" flying to the east from the Rock River area off to the west.
              note: This Illinois opening was wonderful. (refer to the Oct 17th journal entry)

      Pounce's "Down the Shore" session done September 1st was edited into a YouTube Video. 
          This will evolve into a skill sequence similar to Hillmann's "take" on "Down the Shore".

Work has begun on the front "camo" area of the boat blind (previously described) and the above photos demonstrate the initial preparation. This approach is physically much easier than doing it directly on the boat. In addition, removal for transport or drying will be more convenient.

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Oct 14,15 Pounce worked two sessions of Hillmann's Stage #3 "Heeling" mixed in were with several retrieves for exercise (twice each day).....most of the time was spent finishing off two blinds. One is for the boat and the other will be place on the shore of Thorson Pond. The pond will be scouted regularly this week to decide on whether to hunt it open day for geese (on the 21st) or to hunt the river (boat). 
Oct. 16 Pounce was going to train around 11 am at Thorson Pond (if there are no geese around). The surrounding corn field is still not picked and five were using the pond. Pounce ran five blinds at the Roscoe Riverside Park (125-175 yards).....then cooled off in the Rock River with several retrieves. The last "go" (in the field) was a set of several, short, fun doubles in knee high grass. Later we continued Hillmann's heeling conditioning (in the yard). Stage #3 is solid and "reps" are mounting.
                            note: The rest of the day was busy (for me). Built more more shelving for decoys.
                                      Then did an inventory and realized a decoy sale might be a good idea.           
                            note: New tires and one expensive pressure sensor were installed on the van. 
                            note: The portable goose blind is almost ready for a "move" to Thorson Pond. 
                            note: five days until the opener
Oct. 17 Pounce was trained two sessions on the standards described in Hillmann's Stage #4  of his heeling process. She was ready for stage #4 and both sessions went very well. Checked the pond late morning and the surrounding cornfield  is being harvested. The geese (there yesterday) were "run off" today by the "action". That made it a good time to finish off weed whacking the tall cover on the northeast corner of the pond (close to where the blind will be).  The blind will be "moved" from the garage and "planted" tomorrow. This will be the first year (for a long, long time) that duck hunting season will began somewhere other than on the Mississippi River. I will not miss the dark, early morning search for a mediocre spot to hunt and the rest of the "zoo". Way too many are in "their place" by midnight. Been there....done that....not any more. 
Oct. 18 cool morning - moved and installed the portable blind beside the pond in the afternoon. The plan on how to do that worked extremely well. After taking several photos up close, another was taken from the other side of the pond. I wanted to see what the geese would see. The blind may  completely blend in (disappear") if the upper half were spray painted a darker color to match the  treeline shadow background. After "touching up' the original photo (via photo editing)....It does.                          note: refer to the Sept. 17-18 Journal entries for framework info on this blind. 
Daisy and Pounce were taken to the pond for a fun session of short, tandem water retrieves.

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Oct 31 It is a day off for Pounce and Daisy and too windy to do any leaves plus  a change in plans made it possible to "do geese" tomorrow. Scouting revealed that it is a big "go".

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