It was the last day of goose season and my final chance to harvest a speckle-belly.
White-fronted geese, also known as speckle-bellies, come from the Arctic. I've always viewed this species as an exotic type of waterfowl and wondered if I might see some as I pulled into a winter wheat field in Custer County.
Freezing conditions had a stranglehold on Oklahoma for the first half of February, but I was not going to miss the final day of goose season, even though the wind chill was near zero.
My hunting partner, a 12-year-old lab named Will, was 100 percent on board. He does not understand wind chill anyway.
I placed my layout blind, which resembled a sleeping bag with an internal aluminum frame, in a snowdrift. I was hoping to become invisible in the snow by attaching a white cover over the blind to fool the geese.
I'd been lying on the frozen ground for 90 minutes and beginning to question my sanity when I saw a single goose braving the strong north wind. It cupped its wings and headed directly into my decoy spread.
I identified the bird as a speckle-belly because of the distinctive black bars that stood in contrast to its tan breast. My pulse quickened because it appeared that I was about to harvest my first speck of the season.
The speck was on a direct descent to the decoys, like a pitch down the middle of the plate. The only issue in question would be my marksmanship.
But then, I got tangled in the snow cover over the blind and never fired a shot. I resembled a frantic kitten caught in a full laundry hamper.
Sometimes a hunter is only afforded one opportunity to harvest a bird. I could not avoid the cold reality that I had my chance and blew it.
I stayed on the ground for another hour waiting for a bird. The warmth of the car heater was beckoning me when I heard the excited calls of a group of white-fronted geese.
These birds do not honk like other geese, as they offer a series of high-pitched laughing sounds. The incoming group of honkers numbered more than 100 and was very raucous.
The specks dropped like rocks by letting all the air out of their wings in unison, pointing one wing toward the ground and the other skyward.
I quickly sat up to face a startled contingent of birds 10 yards above my decoys. Immediately, they blew up like a huge covey of quail.
Because the daily limit on specks is only one, I now needed to just concentrate on harvesting a single bird.
I took in a deep breath and successfully folded a speck on the far left. Will did not mind leaving the warm confines of our blind, and proudly retrieved the speckle-belly with his head held especially high.
It certainly created a warm memory on a cold, cold day.