Chance encounter at Beemer’s Pond
I collect stories like some men collect shotguns. I have given shotguns away and many have given shotguns to me. But unlike a shotgun, you can give a story away and still shoot it. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, settle back and I’ll pass this story along to you.
Time was, when I’ve limited out on ducks and geese from a pothole in the middle of a cornfield here in Iowa; I’ve risen from legendary pits in Stuttgart, Ark. To point my gun at green heads and I’ve marveled at the 11-man, 11-birds-per-man, 45-minute limit of giant Canada geese on the plains of Manitoba; and hunted ducks up on Big Wall Lake (years ago) with Bernie Long and the late Bob Krejci in a flat-bottom John boat when it was so teeth-chattering cold that I couldn’t feel my toes wiggle. That’s cold. Every one of those outings produced smiles a plenty and memories forever. But it was a ten minute sojourn to Beemer’s Pond the other afternoon within eyesight of the Webster City water tower out there on Airport Road around all that flat country, I got religion. Took me long enough, don’t you think?
Long story short the Vern Ross family and myself brewed up a couple of thermos full of coffee, gathered up our binoculars and spotting scopes, and drove out to Beemer’s Pond to see what we could see. Well, that was the plan for the afternoon, anyway. About sunset, the plans changed. Suddenly, and without warning, flock after flock, hundreds and hundreds, perhaps as many as a thousand Canada geese, Besser Scaups (bluebills), coot, canvasbacks, ringnecks and white-fronted geese came streaming in out of the southwest. The bottom fell out of the sky and for awhile it was “raining” waterfowl. Wing-tip-to-wing-tip, bumper-to-bumper and bill-to-tail. My scope was black with waterfowl coming in to the pond. They were packed into that little pond like a can of sardines. Great flocks of waterfowl came out of nowhere. The most ducks and geese of assorted species I’ve seen at one time (second only to the bug Missouri Valley Flyway at Forney, Iowa with it’s millions of blue and snow geese).
They came right in on top of us and when the pond filled up, the started landing in the driveway entrance and the nearby field. The spotting scopes were useless; the binoculars were useless. The ducks and geese were too close right on top of us. They’d been up in the air a long time and they were tired. They wanted down – no ifs, ands or buts about it. And the fact that we were right out there in the open didn’t seem to bother them. We had a ring-side seat right in the middle of the whole shebang. One of the most awesome and beautiful sights in nature in the outdoors I’ve seen in a long, long time. It all happens in a heartbeat sometimes, and then it’s all over – a tiny window of time opens up, then closes. And if you’re not there you never would have guessed it could have happened. If you were there you were lucky. It was happenstance that’s what it was pure happenstance. Blind dumb luck of the very best kind. We just happened to be there “glassing” over the pond when it all happened. We were in the right place at the right time and for a blip in time, Mother Nature opened the door and we got to see the whole thing. I wished we could have been there the next morning when they all took off again.
The winter that almost wasn’t is over. It’s spring, and the weather is colder now than it was last winter. So, what else is new? Well for starters almost all of the trees have buds on them. Daffodils are sprouting out of the ground, nearly ready to bloom. And quite a number of folks are reporting they have Hyacinths blossoming out already. Wait there’s more: The red-winged blackbirds are back, the bronzed grackles are back and the turkey vultures that wintered down in Central America have returned to McMurray’s Woods (just north of Kmart and McDonald’s) to their summer nesting site.
Here we go again
Hoo boy, you wouldn’t believe it. Well, at least I wasn’t the only person to witness the big waterfowl extravaganza. At least two others saw the enormous flocks (thousands at a time) of ducks and geese that we did. Arlin Dickinson told me a morning or two later that I should take a ride over to Brushy Creek. He said the lake was as black with thousands of waterfowl that just came in. And a day or so later, Brian Holt on his way to the Pheasants Forever Banquet collared me and said he was there when they came in that day. Everybody had the same story: “Thousands of them, wing-tip-to-wing-tip all trying to land on the water at once.” How they kept from knocking each other out of the sky, I’ll never know.
And now, have a good weekend.