The two words can raise hair on the neck of any hard-core waterfowl hunter. The words don’t have to sound the same, but they all mean the same. Cut ‘Em! Kill ‘Em! Shoot ‘Em! It means feet are down, wings are locked and guns are coming out. Pick a bird and take your time—just do it fast.
We joined the crew of "Benelli On Assignment" and Trophies West Outfitters in Montana for three days of goose hunting. Canada geese winter here by the thousands. Greaters make up the bulk of the birds, but there were a few lessers and even some cacklers mixed in.
At night, the birds roosted on the nearby Yellowstone River. Decoys were set just before sunrise in well-scouted fields. The geese have an abundance of stuff to eat here. Our best shooting was in sugar beet fields, but we also killed birds in picked corn. Wheat fields are a big draw on the warmer days.
Every field is chosen after careful scouting. Decoy spreads are well-kept and natural, but not huge by goose-hunting standards. Being on the “X” and well-hidden is more important. This is Trophies West guide Terry Honkenan with one of the first birds of the trip.
Hiding four gunners, two guides, a dog and three cameramen is work, but we managed. Our best luck was by creating natural blinds in ditches along the edges of the fields, but one morning required us to use laydown blinds in cut corn. The geese were warier of that, but we still managed to finish up one bird shy of a limit.
7 | Benelli Super Black Eagle II Waterfowl Edition
One big aspect of this hunt was testing the newest in Benelli shotguns. This one is the new-for-2012 Super Black Eagle II Performance Shop Waterfowl Edition. Yeah, it’s a long name, and at first glance, it looks like a regular SBE II. It’s not. It comes standard from the factory with a complete set of custom Rob Roberts Triple Threat choke tubes, a lengthened and polished forcing cone for more uniform patterns, and various ergonomic features specifically designed for waterfowl hunting, including a large bolt cocking handle and bolt release lever for use with bulky gloves.
And now for the true stars of the show. Most of the greater Canada geese did just enough circling before locking their wings and dropping their landing gears to make things interesting. You want to watch them—but you don’t dare lift your head.
A big goose will outweigh a wild turkey hen, and can seem to almost float in front of your gun barrel. That’s why it can be so puzzling to fire three shells and have them escape unscathed. Truth is, a decoying goose isn’t that tough to hit—but he’s damn easy to miss. Geese can reach a top flight speed of 60 miles per hour, and even though they're traveling a fraction of that speed when most shots are taken, they're still moving. Leading them is important, and head shots, just like you’d take at a turkey, are best. Aim for the white cheeks.
At the end of each day, Big Al was understandably tired, and would barely open his eyes for a belly scratching. Things would change at daylight the next morning. Clicking shotguns and layering of camo brought him to life, and he'd be ready for another day of packing geese.
We loaded up with Federal Black Cloud ammo for this hunt. Most of the time, a modified choke and Black Cloud Snow Goose loads, full of BB-sized shot, performed as needed. When they didn’t … well, we couldn’t blame it on the guns or ammo.
When you visit Montana in December, you expect it to be cold. Though it was in the single digits the first morning, we lucked out with a warm spell during our trip. It climbed into the low 50s the next two afternoons.
The last morning’s shoot was the best. After our limits were filled, producer Marc Womack took a little time away from the camera and picked up one of the shotguns to knock down a few geese of his own.