Life of the Traveling Weapons Writer, Chasing the Wild Goose | Sports
I glanced at Big Jim McConville and thought he looked like a coil spring (albeit a really big coil spring.) We were both crouched in a brushy ditch with l water above our ankles (this level changed later). Jim had an M3500 Stoeger shotgun tucked into his big mitts, and he was practicing his goose call extensively.
E-yonk! E-Yonk! Yonk, Yonk, Yonk!!
His plaintive calls must have sounded good to the flock of Canada geese about 400 yards away, as they turned slightly and came in our direction.
“They shot! Get down!” someone hissed to my left. It seemed obvious that we should all do this, but we obeyed.
Now the geese were close, and you could hear the soft chatter of the geese in the flock. The tension of the eight or so gunners in our waterlogged shade was palpable, and you could almost hear it crackle like static electricity in the ditch. Here, here, I said to myself. Wait for the call of the guide to get up and shoot.
“Take them! Brayden Cole shouted. We rose as one, Stoeger shotguns roared and geese fell from the heavy Ohio sky. This, I muttered to no one in particular, is goose hunting!
This little party started with a call asking if I would like to go on an early season goose expedition to northern Ohio, right on Lake Erie. Keith Heinleine, Product Manager at Stoeger Industries, and Christian Hogg, Director of Marketing and New Product Development at Fiocchi Ammunition, were our hosts, along with Jim McConville, National Sales Manager for the Outdoor Sportsman Group, which includes many outdoor sports and publications related to filming.
Jim has lived in this area all his life and is an avid sportsman, chasing waterfowl, hunting those big Ohio deer, and fishing on Lake Erie. Jim played college football at Ohio State and is big enough to eat hay with a personality to match. Everyone had fun around Big Jim McConville. He was perfect for showing our small group the farms and fields near Lake Avon. (I’m not sure, but I think he knows everyone in the state of Ohio, if not the whole country.)
The population of Canada geese in Ohio, and especially around the shores of Lake Erie, has been a growing problem since the 1960s. water, agricultural damage and property damage. According to the Ohio State University College of Agriculture, hunting is the best strategy for eliminating problems caused by these geese while maintaining a healthy, controlled population.
Resident geese — that is, geese that seem to stay in the same area and don’t migrate — can really make the problem worse. If these geese (we are talking about Canada geese here) find enough food, water and shelter in the area, they will probably never leave. These resident geese nest and raise new geese each year, and the population continues to grow. Where possible, sport hunting excess geese is the best method of dealing with the excess population. That’s what we were here for, to experience early season goose hunting and maybe reduce the number of geese.
Waterfowl hunting (we also had a bit of dove shooting on this trip) requires a good shotgun and we were well equipped with Stoeger scatterguns. The M3500 Stoeger shotgun has been around for a few years and has an established reputation as a workhorse. The M3500 is an inertia semi-automatic shotgun, which means it can go a long time without cleaning (unlike a gas gun) and will withstand the abuse a duck and goose hunter will inflict. .
As we’ve said before here, no shotgun is exposed to as much mud, water, ice, and Labrador slime as a waterfowl gun. The Stoeger M3500 Waterfowl model has a 28 inch barrel, the receiver and barrel are finished in Cerakote Flat Earth (virtually indestructible) and the stock and forearm are Realtree Max-5 camouflage. This shotgun fires 2 shells 3/4, 3 and 3 1/2 inches. Best of all, the M3500 won’t break the bank. MSRP is $849. (www.stoegerindustries.com)
You duck and goose hunters know that the ammunition you use is as important as the shotgun. Fiocchi Ammunition manufactures a wide range of shotgun cartridges (as well as pistol, centerfire and rimfire ammunition) and on this trip we used Fiocchi Golden Waterfowl Bismuth cartridges. Waterfowl hunters know that bismuth shot is much denser than steel, about 24% more, and is also non-toxic, so it meets federal requirements for shot used for waterfowl.
In a nutshell, bismuth has better terminal performance (it kills cleaner) and isn’t as expensive as the next step up, the scale of pellets that would be tungsten. The Fiocchi Golden Waterfowl Bismuth loads we used were 12 gauge, 3 inch, 1 3/8 ounces #4 shot. With a muzzle velocity of 1,450 feet per second it is a howler and these shells are well behaved. I watched other members of the group rustle geese at the outer limits of shotgun range.
If you’re unfamiliar with Fiocchi ammo, you might want to check it out a bit. You may be surprised to learn that Fiocchi has been manufacturing munitions right here in America, in Ozark, Mo., since the 1980s, and now has an additional factory in Little Rock, Ark. (www.fiocchiusa.com)
You can bet your boots I’ll be back in the northern part of Buckeye State on the wild goose trail. All that flat ground seems to appeal to me more these days, and I wouldn’t mind a bit to see Big Jim calling other Canadian honkers.