By Jim Hamrick
The last week of December 2019 found avid Vicksburg area goose hunters Neil Kreamalmeyer, grandson Michael Wright Jr. and long-time hunting partner Jack Smith in preparation mode for the hunt.
The last weekend of December, Saturday, thee 28th, and Sunday, the 29th, is set aside as a late goose season. This is to allow reduction of the local population which no longer migrates and allows a last chance for waterfowl hunters to enjoy their sport. Hunters are allowed to harvest three Canada geese during the two days.
Kreamalmeyer and his team covered many miles in advance, scouting for fields that geese were using for daytime activities. Eventually a field holding large numbers of birds was selected. Locating the owner and obtaining permission to hunt was a challenge. They did get permission and the owner even offered information about an irrigation pond the geese were using. This pond turned out to be a perfect hunting location.
The day before the hunt was set-up day. Kreamalmeyer used an A-frame blind for hunter concealment. Once the blind was up and secure, it was covered with local foliage from the field for camouflage. A spread of 140 decoys was set out to put arriving geese at ease and encourage them to join the group already on the ground. The site was ready and the tired hunters called it a day.
At 5 a.m. on Saturday, the hunters were up with minimal sleep. Anticipation makes sleep a hard commodity to come by, they say. Coffee, snacks and other comfort items were packed. They stopped by a local 24-hour eatery for a ritual glazed doughnut to complete preparations.
Arriving at the hunting location set off a flurry of activity. Headlamps, tools (guns), calls and comfort items were placed in the blind. The spread was checked and floater decoys put out. A flight of ducks left the pond that sat through all of the guys’ early activity. Their truck was moved away with “shooting light” approaching. Their places were occupied in the blind, tools (guns) on the ready. Jack forgot his calls, so he had to run to the truck and back.
Action began immediately, tools (guns) had just been loaded with (go fast-non-toxic fodder) no lead-shot shells, when four mallard ducks showed up. Kreamalmeyer called them in to range; one was downed. A lull in activity saw coffee and doughnuts were all out but Wright spied a flock of geese inbound. Only one was downed from the group. The advancing morning brought more and more birds. The shooting improved and at 8:45 a nine-bird limit was filled.
Three happy hunters collected their harvest and equipment. “Grandpa, we won!” shouted Kreamalmeyer’s grandson. He reported they didn’t win the next day. That is why it is called hunting!
The birds were taken to Stubby’s in Vicksburg or Barrett’s in Portage for processing into sausage or jerky.
Kreamalmeyer has harvested over 400 birds and collected 90 leg and neck collars. Collected collars reported to wildlife biologists help track the population and health of the flocks.
Kreamelmeyer was born and raised in Vicksburg, worked 30 years at Simpson Paper and retired from AM General military Humvee support team in 2018. His hobbies are hunting, shooting and fishing. He is also a certified fast pitch softball official.