Skunked in Maryland’s Mennonite country in early goose season

CEARFOSS, Md. – Just south of the Pennsylvania border resting between I-81 and the Conococheague Creek is Cearfoss, Maryland – a small pocket of corn and soybean farms in the middle of Mennonite country. 

You can smell it before you see it, a signal that you’re in rural America – even if a big town is just 20 minutes away. As the veil opens and you cross those cow-patty laden farm lines, you may catch sight of folks hitting the fields in search of geese. 

In my case, I was that person hitting the field. Posting up on the edge of a vast soybean crop with my friend and girlfriend’s dad, Patrick Vega, and his buddy, Daryl Mummert, we settled down around 4 p.m. hoping that our “feathered friends” – as Vega said – would join us. Mummert, a welder by day, had just left work to meet us at a small country gas station. Packed with his shotgun, two blinds and a couple of big foot decoys, we trekked through the rows of deer-ravaged beans and set up. 

“I’d be surprised if we see any before [sun down],” Mummert said as we finished the decoy spread. “[Especially] with the full moon tonight – hunters have forced them into nocturnal [flights] – we’d be lucky to get any.”

After teasing him saying we’d all limit out, he quickly responded in his thick, eastern-shore accent, “I have a $100 bill in my pocket that’s yours if that happens.” 

His confidence was on point, because that was a bet I lost. 

The sun came out in full force after a relatively cloudy morning and early afternoon, bringing temperatures up enough to force us into the shade of our lay blinds.

With the sun beating down on us through the late afternoon, we hardly heard anything and saw nothing. Once or twice, I heard a honk through the tree line but it was marred by an empty sky. Even after responding with a few honks of our own, nothing came.

To add insult to injury, a family of ducks teased us with a fly by as we were loading up the truck to go home. 

It was surprising to be in a successful spot and not see action, but that’s part of hunting. There are good and bad days, and Maryland’s western lakes and fields are still ripe for the picking. 

Plus, it’s still the beginning of a long waterfowl season. Fourteen days remain in the early goose season, and even though temperatures are supposed to mimic July’s heatwaves things should shape up should we pick the right time to go out. Otherwise, there’s still another three and a half months once it cools down for good – plenty of time. 

Surely we’ll be back nesting among the ticks and moles out in the soybean and corn fields, coming back with a bird or two. 

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