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Under the Flyway with Magpul

Oklahoma is known for its deep Native American heritage and for the Sooners who arrived there just over a century ago. It’s also known for wide, wide prairies where millions of wild animals call home, and for the farms and oil wells that drive so much of its economy. Recently, it’s also become known for its location within the Central Flyway, an interstate in the sky that caters to the feathered variety of long-distance commuter. Some of those feathered flyers darken the skies with their huge V formations, honking, touching down, and feeding wherever they can to satisfy their ravenous appetites on grain and other vegetable matter. Being there with a shotgun when they touch down has once again become a reason for many folks to trek to Oklahoma.

The geese that make their way through the Central Flyway into Oklahoma have attracted a following of hunters and outdoorsmen who have come with the anticipation of something that’s unique to those who have seen a cupping bird and tried to shoot it. Bird hunters from around the US have discovered the thrill of lying in wait near the “X” for the approach of birds that you can sometimes see and hear from more than a mile away. There are a lot of variations on the hunt, but for those of us who were able to travel to Perry, OK, the hunt meant setting up our huge blind in a massive field and enticing the birds in with a series of calls, decoys, and motion to where we waited under our camouflage blankets for the call from the guide to take the shot.

Oklahoma is known for its deep Native American heritage and for the Sooners who arrived there just over a century ago. It’s also known for wide, wide prairies where millions of wild animals call home, and for the farms and oil wells that drive so much of its economy. Recently, it’s also become known for its location within the Central Flyway, an interstate in the sky that caters to the feathered variety of long-distance commuter. Some of those feathered flyers darken the skies with their huge V formations, honking, touching down, and feeding wherever they can to satisfy their ravenous appetites on grain and other vegetable matter. Being there with a shotgun when they touch down has once again become a reason for many folks to trek to Oklahoma.

The geese that make their way through the Central Flyway into Oklahoma have attracted a following of hunters and outdoorsmen who have come with the anticipation of something that’s unique to those who have seen a cupping bird and tried to shoot it. Bird hunters from around the US have discovered the thrill of lying in wait near the “X” for the approach of birds that you can sometimes see and hear from more than a mile away. There are a lot of variations on the hunt, but for those of us who were able to travel to Perry, OK, the hunt meant setting up our huge blind in a massive field and enticing the birds in with a series of calls, decoys, and motion to where we waited under our camouflage blankets for the call from the guide to take the shot.

Under The Flyway With Magpul

Located almost an hour north of Oklahoma City and northwest of Tulsa, Perry is home to Bluestem Waterfowl, an outfitter that brings you to the birds and delivers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What they do and what goose hunting in that area is like defies the traditional blind hunting most of us are familiar with. Beginning with an early wakeup and in temperatures that aren’t at all foreign to most hunters, twelve of us began setting up in the designated space in a corn field that had been harvested just a few weeks before. The guides determined the best orientation for the hunt and the hunters, and how to set the “X” for the birds. They pointed at the piles of fake geese and told us to get to it in the dark. This meant that about 45 minutes before the first rays of light appeared, we set out en masse to place the decoys. Lots of decoys. Literally, thousands of them. Enough to transform the field into a faux grounded Canadian Goose flock that spanned almost two acres. Some of the staff from Dive Bomb Industries made sure of that. Between their V2FF silhouettes and the S3Fi and S5F socks, there was a sea of fake geese by the time the sun began to make its presence known. Once the bait was set, we scurried to our ghillie blankets and leaned against our backboards, covering our hands and faces and making sure our shotguns and ammo were ready at our sides.

Located almost an hour north of Oklahoma City and northwest of Tulsa, Perry is home to Bluestem Waterfowl, an outfitter that brings you to the birds and delivers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. What they do and what goose hunting in that area is like defies the traditional blind hunting most of us are familiar with. Beginning with an early wakeup and in temperatures that aren’t at all foreign to most hunters, twelve of us began setting up in the designated space in a corn field that had been harvested just a few weeks before. The guides determined the best orientation for the hunt and the hunters, and how to set the “X” for the birds. They pointed at the piles of fake geese and told us to get to it in the dark. This meant that about 45 minutes before the first rays of light appeared, we set out en masse to place the decoys. Lots of decoys. Literally, thousands of them. Enough to transform the field into a faux grounded Canadian Goose flock that spanned almost two acres. Some of the staff from Dive Bomb Industries made sure of that. Between their V2FF silhouettes and the S3Fi and S5F socks, there was a sea of fake geese by the time the sun began to make its presence known. Once the bait was set, we scurried to our ghillie blankets and leaned against our backboards, covering our hands and faces and making sure our shotguns and ammo were ready at our sides.

With the coming of the light came the birds. There were hundreds of them in giant V formations miles away from us. As they came into sight in the distance, the guides started up their show of sound and sight with all the tools in their arsenal, calling and flapping so loudly and so well that you could see entire flocks divert towards us in a giant wall of wings. If you’ve never heard a flock of geese being called in, then you should absolutely make it a point to do so. The sheer volume and mixture of different calls and noisemakers sounds like a concert of absolute craziness. To the birds, however, it must sound irresistible, because almost every flock subjected to that deafening sound came to us in a bee line and took a look at the setup. When we were lucky, which was often, the birds flew around us in great spiraling circles as we hid our faces and bodies below. After one or more passes, they set themselves up for a slow, final descent until they found their way right on top of our “X”. When the call of “Kill ‘em!” came, we followed the guides’ orders. Twelve guns rang out repeatedly, and birds folded up and feathers puffed into the sky. Ten-pound geese rained down on top of us, and some even landed right between our legs. Black labs ran back and forth, off to fetch and back again, returning with the fruits of the hunt. This scene repeated itself throughout the morning, and again the next day. When it was time to pack up each day, the line of birds stretched nearly fifty feet. We tagged them and put our names on them so we could prepare them with the guides once we returned to the Bluestem Waterfowl lodge.

With the coming of the light came the birds. There were hundreds of them in giant V formations miles away from us. As they came into sight in the distance, the guides started up their show of sound and sight with all the tools in their arsenal, calling and flapping so loudly and so well that you could see entire flocks divert towards us in a giant wall of wings. If you’ve never heard a flock of geese being called in, then you should absolutely make it a point to do so. The sheer volume and mixture of different calls and noisemakers sounds like a concert of absolute craziness. To the birds, however, it must sound irresistible, because almost every flock subjected to that deafening sound came to us in a bee line and took a look at the setup. When we were lucky, which was often, the birds flew around us in great spiraling circles as we hid our faces and bodies below. After one or more passes, they set themselves up for a slow, final descent until they found their way right on top of our “X”. When the call of “Kill ‘em!” came, we followed the guides’ orders. Twelve guns rang out repeatedly, and birds folded up and feathers puffed into the sky. Ten-pound geese rained down on top of us, and some even landed right between our legs. Black labs ran back and forth, off to fetch and back again, returning with the fruits of the hunt. This scene repeated itself throughout the morning, and again the next day. When it was time to pack up each day, the line of birds stretched nearly fifty feet. We tagged them and put our names on them so we could prepare them with the guides once we returned to the Bluestem Waterfowl lodge.

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We had come for the experience of hunting Oklahoma goose, and this type of pursuit was something we hadn’t imagined. It’s not like waiting for deer or ducks or any other traditional game, but the excitement is parallel to any of those hunts on their best day. Setting up the “X” and then seeing hundreds of birds a thousand feet up in the air collectively and slowly turn in our direction was a marvel. Seeing them choose their path down to us as a group was an unmatched adventure and an exercise in patience. Shooting them as they prepared to land and having them fall all around us was…just a whole lot of fun.

We had come for the experience of hunting Oklahoma goose, and this type of pursuit was something we hadn’t imagined. It’s not like waiting for deer or ducks or any other traditional game, but the excitement is parallel to any of those hunts on their best day. Setting up the “X” and then seeing hundreds of birds a thousand feet up in the air collectively and slowly turn in our direction was a marvel. Seeing them choose their path down to us as a group was an unmatched adventure and an exercise in patience. Shooting them as they prepared to land and having them fall all around us was…just a whole lot of fun.

Goose Hunting

The harvest of birds led to a bounty of fresh meat, which, as it turns out, really is some of the best wild-to-table fare you can find when you take some time with it. Starting out with a simple brine to start, and working up to some complex citrus and smoky recipes, it was hard to find a bad way to fix the breast meat of the birds we’d taken. As a group of people who appreciate the finer side of harvesting our own proteins and cooking them in ways that would make Thomas Jefferson proud, our geese made several families happy at dinner time over the course of several weeks. Whoever it was who said a few weeks before the hunt that goose tastes awful is no longer welcome in my house.

The harvest of birds led to a bounty of fresh meat, which, as it turns out, really is some of the best wild-to-table fare you can find when you take some time with it. Starting out with a simple brine to start, and working up to some complex citrus and smoky recipes, it was hard to find a bad way to fix the breast meat of the birds we’d taken. As a group of people who appreciate the finer side of harvesting our own proteins and cooking them in ways that would make Thomas Jefferson proud, our geese made several families happy at dinner time over the course of several weeks. Whoever it was who said a few weeks before the hunt that goose tastes awful is no longer welcome in my house.

Getting Close To The Limit

That all being said, it’s not just the morning sky and plentiful birds and different recipes we got to try out that made this trip to Oklahoma so special. More and more people are discovering geese and their place in the manual of hunting in Oklahoma. It’s hard to explain to some why we would travel so far, maybe get only four or five hours of sleep, go out into the frigid air, and lay on the ground to wait for some birds. For others, the appeal is immediate and obvious and followed by a rush of planning and setting of hunt dates. More and more of the latter are coming to Oklahoma to find these giant birds and try out their luck.

That all being said, it’s not just the morning sky and plentiful birds and different recipes we got to try out that made this trip to Oklahoma so special. More and more people are discovering geese and their place in the manual of hunting in Oklahoma. It’s hard to explain to some why we would travel so far, maybe get only four or five hours of sleep, go out into the frigid air, and lay on the ground to wait for some birds. For others, the appeal is immediate and obvious and followed by a rush of planning and setting of hunt dates. More and more of the latter are coming to Oklahoma to find these giant birds and try out their luck.

All Smiles

For us, there’s something about the sun rising and when the flocks start to appear. There’s something about seeing hundreds and hundreds of wings moving together, making just enough noise to challenge the sound of the train passing by a mile away. There’s something about being in the middle of a recurring autumn migration that has been a part of the world longer than man has carried a shotgun, and maybe even before the club. There’s something primal and something very evolved about it, depending on what minute of the hunt you’re watching. Whatever it is, we hope too many people don’t figure it out. We like Oklahoma just the way it is.

For us, there’s something about the sun rising and when the flocks start to appear. There’s something about seeing hundreds and hundreds of wings moving together, making just enough noise to challenge the sound of the train passing by a mile away. There’s something about being in the middle of a recurring autumn migration that has been a part of the world longer than man has carried a shotgun, and maybe even before the club. There’s something primal and something very evolved about it, depending on what minute of the hunt you’re watching. Whatever it is, we hope too many people don’t figure it out. We like Oklahoma just the way it is.

The Feathered Quarry

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