Last winter I received a phone call from one of my friends in Southern California, Jake Brower.
If that name rings a bell with you it's probably because you remember seeing a picture of him and his father, Ron, in one of my past columns when they were holding a pair of banded Canada geese.
Those birds were bagged on a trip to Alberta three years ago to hunt with my longtime friend and guide, Brent Reil, with Beaverhill Outfitters. Jake called to invite me as his guest for a trip in September back to Tofield to hunt with Brent again.
Would I be interested in tagging along and filming the hunt like I did before? Would I!! Surely you jest. When do we leave? He said his dad would be going again, as well as his brother Beau, and a friend George Hansen.
We met up at LAX three weeks ago, and boarded for a nice, easy, three hour non-stop flight to Edmonton. After procuring a large SUV, we headed east for the 45 minute drive to Tofield.
I was somewhat anxious during this time because Brent had told me that he was building new rooming quarters for his clients and I really wondered what he had come up with. He mentioned that it would be just a half mile north of his family farm house he grew up in.
During my first trips there in the early 1990s, we would stay in a trailer house right in back of the farm house. Brent's mom would do all the cooking. A few years later, his folks moved into town and we would stay in the basement of their home. She made the best food in Canada..bar none.
Entering the driveway off a gravel road to the new facility, I noticed a familiar two acre, natural duck pond that I remembered from years past. The lodge sat right above it. Hugs and handshakes were greeted all around and Brent took us into the new home. It looked like it was about 1,000 square feet, and had a large storage and equipment room attached. Inside was two bedrooms to sleep four people, a nice modern kitchen, living area, and large dining area.
It also had two bathrooms. Outside was another small cabin that housed two more beds. Everything was first class. He had solar power, and said the home stayed at a constant temperature inside because of the six heated water lines that were installed in the concrete floor. He did not need a furnace.
I had never seen anything like that before. Really cool. Meals were going to be prepared by Brent's girlfriend Maureen, and another full-time cook, Pam.
They must have taken lessons from Brent's mom because the meals were absolutely extraordinary. Gourmet home cooking every morning and evening.
He said he was not sure how good the hunting was going to be because the week before there had been a storm that left 4 inches of snow on the grain fields, and a lot of birds had left the area due to not being able to get to feed in the field.
And, it had been slow already because there just had not been too many birds around to begin with. I told him not to worry about it. Slow in Canada is way better that anywhere in California.
For the next three days we had some great shooting and I got some terrific film. Canada means very large limits per man. For the whole shoot, I think we averaged just over a half limit per day per man.
This amounted to eight to 10 birds per man of geese and duck mixed. There were some great shots, and some not-so-great shots.
But, that's what hunting is all about. I have to tell you that I could not find a better group of guys to share three days of blind time with. A lot of laughter at each other, and at themselves. The best example being of the last shots on the last afternoon of shooting. Beau and Jake had left the blind to try and sneak some birds that landed a couple of hundred yards away.
A small flock of honkers came in, and Ron tried shooting them while still sitting in the blind. Tough.
And, George had forgot to reload his gun after the last volley. I was filming right over his shoulder and you can see the action of his automatic 12 gauge still open while he his jerking the trigger. When the boys returned, it was just one great laugh fest. Thanks guys for a really awesome trip. You're the best.
One final note: If any of my readers are interested in having a great Hi-Def. video done of one of your hunts out of the U.S. or California, please let me know.
I will go about anywhere. . .anytime. I am the invisible man with a camera. Ducks, geese, doves, pheasants, quail, or pigeons. Big game also, like elk, deer, and bear. I'm ready when you are.