Hundreds of decoys pepper one of the fields Doug Haesemeyer is familiar with. His hope is that from hours of scouting and from an intricate combination of decoys, he's in the path of a migrating flock of snow geese searching for a place to rest.
Haesemeyer has been hunting since the late 1980s, taking a break from the sport during his college years and time in the U.S. Marine Corps. Since returning to Emma and the fields of mid-Missouri, ducks and geese have been the primary game he follows. But although he's had successful hunts including an 86-bird day, eyeing the target and the soft throwback from a rifle is less significant than the day itself.
"It's a social interaction. You can sit there with your buddies and talk with them," he explained about the sport. "You're in a camouflage blind most of the time. It's more social than any other hunting experience."
Blinds boarded together with natural materials are embedded into the landscape as though placed there a hundred years ago. Haesemeyer has six blinds in the Lafayette and Saline County area, and he's typically joined by several other hunters. They wait, watching as flocks move across the field, move back and then through decoys. In the meantime, he said, the group can shake off the stillness necessary for hunting deer in exchange for camaraderie. They drink coffee, laugh and enjoy the day.
"I came back to Emma in 2008," he estimated. "I was just getting my feet back into waterfowl. I just got done with school ... went on a snow goose hunt, and I was hooked."
Tracking snow geese in winter months proves time consuming, as Haesemeyer seeks out the birds' migration pattern from his truck. Those efforts give others an opportunity to hunt.
"I get a lot of phone calls from a lot of people that want to go out," he explained. "They don't want to invest in the cost of the decoy spread, the electronic calls. I'm happy to take anybody out with me."
When Haesemeyer is contacted to act as a sort of hunting guide, participants only need to show up. The field is established. The decoys are set. He's becoming more known for that accommodation.
"The best day, I had like 17 text messages before 8 a.m.," he said, laughing. "Everyone knows that all winter long I'm going to be chasing these waterfowl."
Chasing waterfowl -- it's what he does. But when winter falls away and the birds are gone, the chase and hunt give way to other rewards, such as having 30 to 40 pounds of breast meat made into jerky or developing unique decoys that he'll eventually combine with the rest.
"It takes hundred and hundreds of decoys, and to buy these takes a ton of money," Haesemeyer said. "I bought some and thought 'You know what, I can make these.'"
And he has been. The design isn't complex, appearing similar to a windsock with a fiberglass stake, which is lighter and more flexible than steel. Haesemeyer mixes 400 to 500 of the self-made props with approximately 150 full-body decoys. The spread has had the success he'd hoped for. While sportsmen can hunt from roughly a half hour before sunrise until dark, Haesemeyer stops in the early afternoons. His efforts now working for him.
"I'm glad to be back in such an agriculturally dense area that allows me to opportunity to follow the snow goose migration. I couldn't do it without the farmers who make it possible," he said.
For more information, contact Haesemeyer at 660-864-4162.