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Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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Low cost therapy can bring home the bacon, too

   When my phone rings, I normally don’t care to answer it very often. What little time I have to myself I prefer to spend doing something away from computers and the other electronic gizmos today’s fast pace world relies on so much.
   However, when my phone buzzed a few weeks ago, and I looked at it to see who needed to speak to me.
    I grinned.
   The name and number were very recognizable and welcome to ring or buzz me at anytime. Local outdoorsman, skeet shooting extraordinaire and all-around good ol’ boy, Scott Rollins, was calling and asked me if I wanted to accompany he and his father on the last day of goose season to a farm about an hour away to do a little goose calling and hunting.
   Now if he had asked me to come shoot skeet with , I would have had to ask the charge for lessons as he and his father are both superb at making clays disappear in a short puff without so much as breaking a sweat.  But this was goose hunting, and even I could dust a goose now and then and make it drop from the sky.
   After checking my schedule and realizing it had once again been a very long and tense week, I knew that I really had no choice. I had to go with the Rollins men to regain my sanity.
   We agreed on a time and place and arrived within a few minutes of each other. The Rollins men are quite adept at setting up a goose spread and have a keen goose sense that allows them to put honkers on the ground and on the table very reliably.
   I know because I have hunted with them and have witnessed their skills. This day was to be no different. They did most of the set up and then we got into the layout blinds that they brought along.
   Our setup was along a small pond that was a magnet for geese in the area. While thousands of geese would not light in the pond, several dozen could. Gently rolling grain and cow pastures surrounded the pond, giving the geese a place to feed and all but sweetening the package for any passing honkers.
   The dam was to our left and we had backed up the layout blinds to a few fallen trees among the grass and stubble in the pasture next to the pond. I had to admit I was excited. I knew I was in excellent hands in my field goose hunting class and the morning was promising to be a good one.
   We were not in the blinds very long when I heard Scott say that we had some birds inbound. I could hear them honking and Scott soon began coaxing them in with his Zink call. His ability was very impressive. Although the geese were cautious and decided to circle around right over top of us, they eventually came right in over the dam. I remember looking up through the mesh in the blind I was reclined in, watching them float over, wobbling back and forth as they checked out the spread, the pond, and the area in general. I could see individual tail feathers as they went over. It was a gorgeous sight to behold with these seemingly ungainly birds gracefully wheeling over our position. Once they passed around, I heard them come back in our direction and then the curt, “Take EM!”
   A few shots rang out as I watched the pair of geese tumble to the pond’s surface. We did have some disappointment though as my dog was unwilling to retrieve the geese. Some of the problem was likely a few bad experiences he had a few years ago with a lively goose that decided to hammer him, and some of the problem was his age. I really need to retire him as I could see he just is too old to be called upon to do any heavy lifting anymore. It was a tough call for me to make but it was the only bad moment in the whole day.  
   Mr. Rollins used some ingenuity and we were able to get the geese off the pond within a few minutes. Another lone goose came in a short while later and Scott promptly splashed him too. It was then that the sun climbed high enough in the sky to begin warming the blinds and making the day very peaceful and therapeutic.
The flights slowed down and we had an hour or so of a break but remained in our blinds stretched out in a comfortable reclined position with just our heads poking out. My dog took a turn stretching out beside me and then moved over to sprawl next to Scott for a while.
  Resting there in that blind listening the melodies of the birds as the wind swayed the trees and rippled the water while allowing the sun to keep me warm was a bit too much. I caught myself snoring and hoped no one else had noticed. I really did not have to worry too much though as I suspect both of the other men caught a few Z’s and counted a few geese-errr I mean sheep—in their blinds too.
   After another hour or so passed, Scott quickly hunkered down in his blind and told us he heard a big flock making its way toward us. We all waited patiently for them to come streaming overhead. Moments later, a flock of fifty birds or so cupped in behind us right over our heads. The setting sun gleaming on their wings gave their feathers a rich amber shine as they glided down to the serene waters of the pond. With the gentle sun on my face, and my heart thudding against my chest from excitement, time seemed to stand still as I stared up at the birds, which were now right above my head.
   They dipped and jinked from left to right, making their voices heard as they slowly descended down into range. A few of the lead birds crashed down into the water; Scott gave the firing order again and we sent a few more heavy birds spiraling down to the water.
   As things began to slow down, we eased back into the blinds and “rested” after trading stories, sharing some hunting lore and discussing some of the latest gear back and forth a bit more before calling it a day. Breathing some good ol’ farm air while totally relaxing and even nodding off for a few minutes made me realize that the best therapy that I ever tend to get is with good friends while on the water or in the fields among God’s creation.
   Nothing beats the cost of such therapy either. You can share as much as you want or as little as you want, and then go home at the end of the day feeling better without a huge bill for the hour or so you might spend in someone else’s office.
   Generally I prefer my office, which is the one I share with friends out of doors. If you ever need some good old fashioned, low-cost therapy and have a good friend or two, grab a fishing rod or a gun and head for the fields, forest or waters. I doubt you end up disappointed. Who knows, you might bring home dinner too!

Mark Fike and Scott Rollins

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