Calgary-California Connection PART 1 – Oct 2-5

Our great friends from Fresno California were booked to come up to hunt in Marengo Saskatchewan area as they do every year. They decided to stay at the Marengo Hotel. The owner and staff treated the lads great there, it was convenient since it was so close to where we wanted to hunt, the beds were great, and to put it nicely the place rated a .5 Star. I will book this place again since we are on hunting trips and not spending time lounging by the pool (which we never did find at the Marengo Hotel). The guys were flying into Calgary on the Friday (2nd) and were going to be leaving on the 12th.

A few nights before the guys arrived we had a delivery of 240 Silo Sock economy snow decoys arrive from Prairie Winds Decoys. We wanted those decoys for our hunts so as soon as I got home from work that day, I started to paint the bodies of the decoys. With help from my wife Sharon I was able to get the 240 bags painted in under 2 hours. Lyle S. popped over that night and we assembled the bodies and attached the bags to the bodies. We were done around 10:30. Now it was time to focus on the hunting.

Late Night Assembly
Late Night Assembly

Lyle S. , Warren C. , and myself drove out on the Friday afternoon to head into the Marengo area and do some scouting for the Saturday morning hunt. We had a minor detour on the way since one of the major highways was closed due to a washout. We arrived around 4:30 in the afternoon and started to drive around the Marengo area looking for large amounts of birds on the ground. We checked out the pea field we had hunted the earlier weekend (See previous Article) and we found no birds there but we did see some flying in the direction of the Weisbrod farm. We then drove to the farm and jackpot, the birds were sitting on a field just south west of our farm on land owned by a company which I did not recognize. I drove to the farm to ask my aunt if she knew who was farming that land, she made a good guess. I then saw our friends the Sullivans (they own land S.E. of our farm and rent the land off of my Aunt) loading grain into a bin. I asked if they knew whose land it was and then said they would call the land owner on our behalf and get permission for us to hunt the land. Brian Sullivan (best dude ever) texted us back and said we were good to hunt the 1/2 section. We drove to the Marengo Hotel and met up with the Cali boys who had just arrived in Marengo.

It was excellent timing since the guys had just arrived, we met Andy S., his son Jeremy S., and Davey (from Olympia Washington area) and filled them into the plans for the morning. After a ceremonial toast to the hunt (Andy had Black-Berry Brandy to offer and I had some Apple Crown Royal to offer) we set the time to meet and we went to the CrossRoad Motel in Kindersley since the Marengo Hotel had no openings for Lyle, Warren, and myself.

October 3 – Sask-Alta Farms Field (38 Birds)

The weather had changed and some rain and wind was forcast. It was around 4-5 degrees Celsius with a stiff 25-35 kph wind. It was a wet cold morning. We decided to hunker down behind a rockpile and set our layout blinds up against the downwind side. We set up a good amount of speck and snow decoys (around 800) and we waited for the birds to come and we didn’t have to wait long. We had specks buzzing our spread early and we got some on the ground fast. Andy decided to get some of the action on camera and decided to stand by a round bale in the field and get some of the shooting on tape. The second he left the shooting stopped. The camera man was flaring birds but having a great time. Andy and myself went for a drive to find another spot to do a setup in the next morning. We saw birds everywhere but the birds were not concentrated and any given location. We then went back to the decoy spread and did a bird count. 38 in the morning. Not too shabby. The party hunted the evening and got a few birds with Andy and myself doing some scouting for the next morning hunt.2015-10-03 13.04.38

October 4 – Lois Weisbrod’s field NE of Farm (37 Birds)

The night before we saw birds land near our farm of a section of wheat that had a small patch that was unable to be harvested due to the wet conditions. We placed our blinds within the standing wheat area and had our decoys in the harvest area. We had a slough behind us to the north holding about 30K of birds and a slough to the south of us holding similar numbers. We had a bunch of early specks, a few mallards and a spattering of snows. We had some fast and furious shooting. During our hunt I thought I saw an antelope bounding away from our spread in the distance. The other guys said it was a coyote. I was puzzled since I thought I saw a nice large white butt patch on the animal. When we went to pick up our dead birds we tracked a cripple through some standing wheat and found a blood trail. After some amazing detective work from Davey we realized that a coyote found one of our crippled birds and ran away with it. That was the white ‘butt patch’ I had seen. That day as well we had a Golden eagle swoop in and eat up one of our specks laying dead in the field.  They guys stayed the night and hunted getting a few more birds while Andy, Davey and myself went scouting for birds. We saw a large group sitting on a flat as a pancake harvested lentil field with no visible area of cover, we then drove to another area and did we ever find a spot. I was able to find out the owner’s name & number (with help from Brian Sullivan) and contacted Fred Sullivan (Brian’s Uncle) and we got permission to hunt the field. We quickly took down the spread and counted out 37 Birds. We then dreamed of the day to come and we were not disappointed.

Andy & son Jeremy
Andy & son Jeremy

October 5th – Fred Sullivan’s Field ‘Epic Pond’   (65 Birds)

The party got the to field upon Davey’s request a half hour earlier. This would allow us adequate time to get the spread setup and we could spend some decent time stubbling up our blinds. We decided after some time of indecision of where to setup we chose to setup on the shore of a shallow slough on the field. There was minimal cover at the edge but we committed to go here and make our stand. We setup with our spread going up a hill and we hoped to have birds buzzing us from the front of our spread as they heading to the pond on our backs. I moved the truck and as I was walking back to the setup, I had specks buzzing me. When I had gotten back to the spread, the legal shoot time was upon us and I informed the guys that it was time to hunt regardless of how the blinds looked. I had just finished saying that when a speck buzzed me at 5 yards and I quickly dispatched him. I had made my point and we climbed into our blinds. They next 5 minutes we had specks buzzing us from all directions and before Andy got back to the spread from dropping off his truck, we had 8 specks bagged. We had birds work us from the front of our spread and then they switched and came from the water side behind us. We had quite a few dead birds in the water so I had put on my waders to retrieve them. The pond was nicknamed Epic Pond since we laid a licking to a group of 65 birds. Davey shot the first blue-goose of the trip and we shot a few ducks in there as well. Lyle, Warren, and me had to head home that afternoon so we took a few decoys down (the boys were going to do a night hunt on the pond and wanted a smaller spread) and cleaned birds. We had a great morning, as we drove home that afternoon we were pleased to have had a great morning and wanted to stay but work calleth. Davey informed me they shot a few more birds that night including Davey’s first sandhill crane and a couple of big honkers.

Epic Pond
Epic Pond

We planned to return for the end of the hunt. I had to work and also repair some gear. In part 2 I will detail how the end of the hunt went. Feel free to comment and let me know you thoughts!

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