When Opening Day on the Chesapeake Flyway Yields New Friends & Goose Breast Prosciutto!
The text came through “Hey Lady! The day I wait for all year long is fast approaching.” (she didn’t mean Christmas) Victoria Jones and I had met through mutual friends on social media, who thought we might hit it off given our common interests in the outdoors, hunting, etc. I had just received an invitation to opening day of Goose Season on the Chesapeake Flyway… from a woman I will come to learn is a bit of a local legend. She is a true outdoors-woman with sportsmanship, ethics, talent & passion at the core of her generosity.
I arrived to meet Victoria and her band of crackerjack shots at 5:30 am at the Royal Farms in Cecilton MD; a favorite meeting spot for we hunting types. What a sight! The parking lot was full of pickup trucks, trailers full of decoys, camo clad enthusiasts, and the excitement… albeit groggy… was full tilt!
Arriving at the farm well before sunrise, Victoria’s self-customized trailer is pure genius! The back door drops as a trailer ramp. Her 4 Wheeler is secured inside with 2 tandem sleds. These haul hunters, guns, and gear to the blind. We loaded these up and off we went to the blind, and organized our gear inside. Next up: her 4 wheeler transports the trailer to the field and reveals an inside drop door to her decoys which can be hauled through the back or the side doors. These are not just store bought decoys… but her own handcrafted silhouette v-board decoys, which under her direction we carefully placed in front of our blind. The detail in Victoria’s crafting & placement are very obviously a labor of love. We line up in the blind. I, being a woman of small stature… gratefully accepted the two milk crates offered to put me on my own shooting pedestal!
Victoria’s chocolate lab, Emma, is poised, and ready! Emma is charming, talented, and above all, superbly trained and ready for her annual debut, which includes keeping our blind full of hopefuls in line!
The season opener is warm. It feels more like August than November. Our day will be long. Not many birds are flying, but the mood in the blind is positive as we share our histories, jokes, and stories of past hunts. The camaraderie builds, and new friendships are forming with these wonderful people whom I just met a couple hours earlier.
When we took a break for lunch, Victoria shared a bit of her world with me; introducing me to family, friends, gun club members. We talked about the future of hunting in Maryland, and learned we shared a common goal of bringing more women to the sport. We shared ideas about how we might help facilitate this. I came to realize that although we meet by chance, we were kindred spirits.
We returned to the goose blind later that afternoon, and as the goose calling resumed, and the weather cooled, the geese started to move in! Excitement in the blind builds as the distant honking draws closer and closer with the musical symphony of calling, flagging, and a little mojo action in between!
At last light, Victoria’s orchestra of calling to the late day moving Canada Geese brings them in… nice and close, flock after flock, and when prompted each time to “Kill ‘Em Now!” we would break through the blind’s grasses, point, swing, and fire at each selected goose! Within 30 minutes, and at day’s end, six gunners each have their two bird limit!
Emma enthusiastically and gently retrieves every one. These are the things “Opening Days” are made of… These are the memories that will become “Our Glory Days”.
“Thank you Victoria & The Upper Bay Gun Club”. I am grateful for what will be a lifelong memory and indeed a “Glory Day.”
V Board Decoys John Patchell & Skahill Bros. Opening Day Victoria Jones, Carol Cherington Limit!
Maryland Hunting Quarterly Fall 2016 Issue – Page 22 & 23 Story & Recipe