My first White Tornado
In August of 1983, Hurricane Alicia slammed into the Texas coast and consequently knocked the entire Texas corn crop to the ground. There were literally 1,000-acre fields with stalks of corn laying flat on the ground. Part of the insurance claim was to destroy the crop, but the wet conditions wouldn't allow plowing. So insurance companies compromised by letting the farmers shred the corn stubble.
The table was set for the largest legal baiting of fields I had ever seen.
Geese arrived the second week of November. It took them a week to find the corn fields. But when they did, birds from hundreds of miles joined in on the bonanza.
The weather forecast for Dec. 22, 1983 was one that I had not seen before. The jet stream was in a Omega block, and unbelievably cold air was coming straight out of Siberia. Temperatures were forecast to be 10 to 12 degrees. That is unheard of on the Texas Coast.
As Jupiter continued to line with Mars, snow geese found a corn field that I had permission to hunt. The cold front was a day away, and as usual for the Texas coast, warm air was pushing in from the Gulf ahead of the cold front.
Warm air cold ground can only mean one thing: FOG.
We assembled a group of 11 guys. One was my lifelong friend Cliff Stanich. He was about 19 then. We had about 1,000 throw down rags and dug holes for makeshift pits. We bantered back and forth and waited for the first geese of the morning.
The fog thickened. In the distance you could hear the first clamoring of snow geese. As the geese got closer, you hear them, but you could not see them through the fog. My heart raced as the noise got louder and louder.
Then suddenly, through the fog, there they were. The first wave. The birds saw the decoys and immediately stopped their wing beats. They started their decent, and formed the familiar vortex.
We hunkered down as low as we could in our pits. The first group came over our back shoulder not 10 feet off the ground. One young snow goose had had enough. He dropped its feet and turned into the wind.
Just then, in an act that will remain forever in infamy, Cliff raised his gun. He looked around and saw that no one else joined him, and so he didn't shoot. Of course the geese saw the movement and flared away.
But the die was cast. The upper wave of birds remained committed. They turned into the wind, and the shot was called with no less than 100 birds hanging like kites for the perfect shot.
After the climatic volley of birds, Squint Eyed Hopkins (the leader of our 11 guys) said, "I wonder why that first group of birds flared?"
Naturally, I felt it was my duty to tell him. "Clifford One Goose here was gonna "f*" up the whole thing."
As it was, the 11 of us killed 77 birds. The limit was five snows, one speck and one Canada . It was a great day .
The Siberian front came in the next day December 24,1983. On Christmas morning it was 11 degrees. And to this day -- three decades later -- Cliff Stanich is known throughout the goose hunting world as Clifford One Goose.