It didn’t take long until September rolled round and Goose had a chance to try a job that he was named for, wildfowling. His first flight was in early September as I decided to start him on a morning tide flight on ducks. We set off into the darkness with plenty of time to get the decoys set up and tuck in before the first opportunity of a shot. I picked a spot that I hoped would produce a couple of straightforward retrieves, where I could pick the ducks if Goose struggled. There was, however, an eerie mist on the marsh that morning and not a single breath of a breeze, leaving the tidal creek almost mirror like.

The first retrieve

It didn’t take long until the first packs of ducks could be heard approaching out of the darkness. Keen to make life as easy as possible for Goose, I let the first few packs go through undisturbed. As the light levels increased, a pair of mallard headed up the empty creek next to me as a nice 30-yard crosser. I upped with my old Winchester Ranger pump-action and downed the first bird of the flight for one shot. This was handy as, despite spending a lot of time and effort with the gunsmith to fix a jamming issue, it still managed to jam! Regardless of my gun’s performance, Goose never left his mark. The duck was clearly dead and going nowhere fast, so I decided to make him wait for a short while before sending him for his first retrieve on the marsh, which he did perfectly. With the jamming issue fixed, the first bird in the bag, Goose back in position and ducks on the move, we hunkered down for our next opportunity.

Duck hunting

The second duck to meet its fate by the hand of the old pump took me by surprise. Having seen a small bunch of mallard slide wide of the decoys I took my eye off one that left the pack in response to the call. Looking forward again, I turned around to see the single mallard arrive out of the mist and straight over my hole. A quick spin on to my knees and I hit it with the first shot and crumpled it nicely with the second as I managed to get a better footing. Second bird down, just into the water and another jam with the pump, Goose set about with his first real water retrieve. Once again, nothing fazed him and the second bird was soon collected.

As he had proved his competence, I decided to continue shooting to get the fridge stocked up with duck, with the highlight of the morning being a nice long water retrieve on a teal. By the end of the flight we had four mallard and a teal in the bag. A cracking start and the first flights of many that I will share with my new duck hunting buddy. As you can imagine we have gone from strength to strength and with varied experiences under our belt we are looking forward to what the rest of the season has in store for us.

Read more about Goose’s first duck hunting trip in the January issue of Sporting Gun, out now.