USA: Goose Shack Guide Service - Delta Junction Alaska

Mekaniks

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Where to start....My son and I just arrived home late last night from a couple days of waterfowl hunting outside of Delta Juntion Alaska with Goose Shack Guide Service. I haven't even cleaned out my truck yet, but first things first, time to start the hunt report:)

I have always heard good things about hunting Sandhill Cranes and Geese out of Delta JunctionAlaska during the fall migration, but I had never done it before. And I really wanted to take my son on a productive waterfowl hunt. But, the downside to the Delta hunting is getting access to private fields where the birds hang out, or lots of local knowledge of public land, and understanding the birds patterns. I had none of the above...
So this summer I booked us a two hunt with Goose Shack Guide Service. Goose Shack is a realativly new outfit, only in business a couple years, but I heard really good things about them and Mike Lenze the owner/outfitter has been around Alaska forever. After some reasearch, in June I confirmed our dates for the middle of the second week in Sept. The package that Mike offers includes, guides, decoys, blinds, and dog. And more importantly field access and local bird pattern knowledge. He does not include food, ammo, lodging etc....(he does have limited sleeping space available in his decoy trailer, but more on that later)
My son (age 14) has never bird hunted before and had zero shotgun experience. He did complete the AK Hunter Education class last winter. Then for his birthday in August we bought him a Benelli Nova compact 20ga. He and I spent a couple years of hours over two days getting familiar with the gun and throwing some clay pigeons. When we headed out to go hunting he had shot a total of 2 boxes of target loads and only broken a few clays.

Day 1 Monday 9/11-Travel to Delta Jct
Jacob went to school as normal. I loaded up the truck and did some last minute grocery shopping. I picked him up from school about 11:00am and checked him out at the office to make sure the next couple of days would be excused absences from school.
We headed out for the 500+ mile drive from home in Seward to "Goose Camp" which is on the AK Hwy, about 40 miles outside of Delta Junction, AK. We stopped for a quick lunch on the way through Anchorage, and rolled into camp at about 7:30 pm.
Mike Lenze, Guide/Outfitter and his Guide, Jake, were there in camp to greet us when we arrived. "Camp" really consists of Mike's motor home and his decoy trailer parked at the end of a dirt road on the edge of a harvested barley field.
We had originally planned to stay in my pickup camper. But as things worked out I traded in my pickup with the camper on it, and bought a new pickup without a camper, the week before we were to leave. So Mike made arrangements for us to stay in his decoy trailer. It's about a 16-18 foot enclosed cargo trailer set up for hauling decoys. Mike outfitted it with a couple of cots and a propane "buddy heater" for us to stay in which worked out perfect.
When we arrived in camp Jake was just starting the campfire and about to cook some Sandhill Crane for dinner. Remember food is not part of the package. But they assured us there was more than enough. I had never eaten Crane before and man was it good. And cooked over the open fire made it especially appetizing!
We discussed plans for the next morning. As it turned out the birds were using fields about 20 miles back in the direction of Delta Jct, about a 40 min drive. I figured why not just set up in the next to camp? Mike explained the the birds have used that field in the past, and its super convienent when they do, but we were only going to hunt fields that the birds are currently using. Ok, I can't argue with that logic.....Off to bed.

Day 2 9/12 04:00am

We are up and a quick power bar and v8 juice for breakfast and we are headed out to the fields. Mike and Guide Jake (I call him Guide Jake so not to confuse with my sone Jacob) in Mikes pickup and Jacob and I following in mine. We arrive at the field about 45 min before shooting time. Park the pickups outside the field walk out to the middle of the field where Mike already has the blinds set up and the decoys (mixed cranes and geese) are the covered with a tarp. We all work to set up the decoys and Guide Jake gives us some instruction on how to use the lay out blinds. I have never hunted from lay out blinds before and of course it was all new to Jacob so we practice "popping up" out of the blinds a couple times. Then a few minutes before daylight all four of us hunkered down in our blinds ready to go.
It didn't take long and in comes a group of Cranes just like they are supposed too. Guide Jake gives the "Takem!" We all pop up and in a few seconds dead Cranes are falling from the sky. Mikes dog is retrieving dead ones and and Guide Jake is chasing down a couple that hit the ground running with broken wings. After all the commotion and the birds are being counted, 7 total, I start talking to Jacob and he hadn't fired a shot?? WTH I ask??? Turns out he was really nervous and just wanted to see how it all worked first... Ok, so back in the blinds and we agree that next time Jacob shoots first.
About an hour goes by and here comes a small flock (6-8) of Canadian Geese. Guide Jake gives the "Takem"!! and Jacob pops up and smacks the closest one. I wait a second and shoot a second one as they are leaving. And Jacob has his first Canadian Goose!! Whoot Whoot and it's a happy dance! He was pretty excited and I thought it was cool that his was a Canadian too. Here is a pic...

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That was the perfect confidence builder for him and he ended up making some more great shots. We both shot our limit of Cranes (3) for the day before lunch!


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At lunch Jacob and I took off and went into Delt Jct to get gas in my pickup and I needed to check up on some email. We then drove back down to Goose Camp and had a quick lunch and Jacob caught up on some home work. Mike and Guide Jake stayed out in the fields to did some scouting and set up blinds in a different field. We caught up with them again about 5:00pm in the new field for the evening hunt.
Just before dark are small group Speckeled Belly Geese came in Jacob and I each got one.
Pretty Amazing first day of hunting!!

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We picked up the decoys and headed back to Goose Camp for the evening. By the time we got to camp everyone was wiped out. We made plans to head back to the same field that we had hunted that evening and it was a quick dinner and off to bed nearly 10:00 pm.

Day 3 04:00am

Quick breakfast of breakfast bars and cold fried chicken we brought and we are packing up the truck so we can leave for home tonite after hunting and not have to go all the back to camp to ge our stuff.

This morning it's Mike, Jacob and myself in the blinds. Guide Jake is going to do some morning scouting and put some blinds in a field for another group of hunters they have coming after us. We have the decoys out and are in our blinds about 15 min before shooting time.

About 30 min after sunrise in comes a group of Cranes. Jacob gets two, I get two, and Mike waits for us and still gets one. Excellent start of the day!!

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After that it slowed down a little. The next group that came in I got one and Mike got two and Jacob misssed. So Mike and I had our bag limit of Cranes. About an hour later a pair came in and Jacob got one of them to fill his limit of Cranes and it wasn't even 9:00am(y)
We rearranged the decoys and added a few Geese on hopes of pulling in some more Geese. We had a few groups of Cranes come by that we passed but no more Geese. About 1:00pm we headed out and started cleaning birds. We finished the hunt with 12 Cranes, 2 Canadian Geese, and 2 Speck Belly Geese.

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Mike and Guide Jake were both very proficient at cleaning birds and very patient showing Jacob how to clean them as well.
We were on the road by about 3:30 pm and rolled into the house last night just after 10:00 just in time to update the lady in charge and take some badly needed showers.

All in all, it was a fantastic hunt and I can't say enough good things about Mike Lenze, Guide Jake and Goose Shack Guide Service. Super happy they made Jacob's first waterfowl hunting experience amazing!

And I am off to clean out my pickup and start cleaning shotguns:)

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CAustin

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Man you guys did really well. Congrats
 

gillettehunter

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Always a good deal to take a youngster hunting. I'm sure that he had a great time. Congrats Bruce
 

BRICKBURN

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Thanks for sharing this hunt with us.
Congratulations all round.
 

cpr0312

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Looks like a great time! Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 

rpgoldsby

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Great hunt. I have been on at least 20 bird hunts around big delta and have never done that good. Congratulations
 

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