OUTFITTER REVIEW ON:
Goose Busters Guide Service
Part 1:THE HUNT
Late Season Mallards and Honkers in the Twin Cities
With Goosebusters Guide Service
by dan wennerlind
Even though it was still early, light from a full moon made it bright enough to see without a headlamp. I piled my gear into a layout blind along the edge of a small farm pond located 45 minutes northwest of downtown Minneapolis. Before the four of us could even get settled into our blinds, a flock of 8 Mallards buzzed the tower. I heard our outfitter Phil Schmidt call out “5 minutes until shooting time”. A couple minutes later another pair of Mallards tried to land in the decs. That’s when Phil shouted out “Let’s get loaded up!”
When the sun finally peaked over the horizon on this cold November morning, it was a balmy 28 degrees out. Phil and his guide Mike Paumen quickly climbed out of their layout blinds to go and break open a landing pad for our expected feathered guests. Phil then shared with us that this was actually the first morning of the year they had ice on the area ponds.
Outfitter Phil Schmidt of Goose Busters Guide Service has been guiding in the west metro area of the Twin Cities for over 6 seasons now. He had been scouting this particular pond for the past 2 weeks, just waiting for a full moon to take advantage of an early morning hunt. Phil was very excited for this morning’s hunt as there had been up to 100
|Canada geese using it every day for the past 2 weeks and recently several good sized flocks of Mallards had been sitting on it, offering us the opportunity for a nice combo hunt.|
With many years of experience hunting and guiding waterfowl hunters under his belt, Phil said that he likes his odds hunting over water during a full moon rather than taking his chances getting burned on a field hunt when more then likely the birds have been feeding all night. At this point however, it was evident that our spread of 50 Canada goose floaters were completely frozen into the small farm pond so Phil and Mike had to make quick work of breaking them free before
the next flock of ducks made an approach. Not 30 seconds after Phil and Mike climbed back into their blinds, a flock of 6 Mallards dropped into the spread and two of them did not leave. My chessy Jada enthusiastically broke through the ice to retrieve the downed birds. We had our first ducks of the morning in hand!
After that the action slowed down for a bit which gave me a chance to meet my three hunting partners for the day- Bob Elsholtz, Jason Phelps and one of Phil’s best customers Bob Peterson. I found that Bob was currently on his 54th hunt with Phil since they met at Game Fair only three years ago. Since that day he had been hunting with Phil about two times a week during each season and amazingly Bob stated that he has only been on two of those hunts where they were actually skunked.
I had to ask Bob what makes a hunt with Phil so enjoyable and keeps him coming back over and over again. Bob said “Although it is a lot of fun shooting geese on pretty much every hunt we go on, it is more then that. It is actually Phil himself that makes the hunt so much fun”. Bob then stated that “Phil and I are good friends now and his personality is what really makes a hunt with Goose Busters Guide Service so enjoyable for me”. He went on to say that “Phil sincerely likes people and cares about his hunters. He gets to know each one of his customers on a personal level”. Bob said “He has been on a lot of guided hunts with other outfitters where he feels more like a number than a customer”. He also mentioned that Phil is a teacher in the field and is more than happy to answer any questions his hunters have and is happy to help show his customers how to hunt rather then just take them on a hunt.
For me, that was a very powerful testimony because I always want to make sure that the outfitters that we represent at HuntTheNorth.com can provide a quality hunt for their customers on a regular basis. After hearing Bob's story I was well assured that Phil obviously does. I also found out that my other two hunting companions were repeat customers as well, and seemed to enjoy their time in the field with Phil as much as Bob did.
Ok back to the hunt, the first flock of Canada geese finally made their appearance at around 8:15 am but they were on a direct path back into town and did not give us much of a look. Phil said they were heading back to the city from a night spent in a near by corn field. It wasn’t ten minutes later that another small flock of 3 greater Canadas made their way across the horizon and this time they were definitely interested. With a little extra coaxing from Phil and Mike the three Giants circled once and set right in. Phil told us to “Get Ready” as the birds made their last pass. We all took aim as Phil called the shot at about 25 yards and two of the big Canadas came crashing down. The third goose high tailed it out of the spread unscathed. Phil quickly shouted out for us to get back down and cover up. He and Mike got right back on the calls and wouldn’t you know it the goose came right back around again and gave us a clean shot at 40 yards. This time he didn’t get away.
From then on the sky was filled with big flocks of Canadas. Most of the flocks went straight back to town but the smaller flocks of 4 – 12 birds were very interested. Phil’s expert calling drew another flock of about a dozen birds into gunning range and another 4 birds fell. The first two crashed through the ice making big splashes, while the other two sailed across the small pond into the pasture on the other side. That gave me a chance to send my pup Jada on a couple fun retrieves after her favorite thing…big, crippled honkers.
As we made our way around the pond I sent her “Back” after the first goose. With a cheerful yelp she was off. As the bird ran into the pond she gave chase and made a textbook retrieve. The second goose wasn’t hit that hard. It was ducking down while running through the grass about 100 yards out, trying to make an escape. As Jada gave chase and got close the giant honker was actually able to lift off the ground and almost got away before she made an acrobatic launch and grabbed the big goose right out of mid air! It was quite a thrill to watch! I heard Phil give out a cheer as she caught the bird. I think he was more excited then I was, which really made for a fun atmosphere. Now I was starting to get a feel for what Bob had been talking about earlier when he had said how much fun it was to share a hunt with Phil.
As we made our way back to the blinds another flock of about 10 big honkers turned and set in on the guys. We could hear Mike’s expert calling and from a distance it was hard to tell which calls were from the birds and which ones were from Mike. The birds locked up and sailed right into the decs again. We could see the flaps from the layout blinds open up and 5 big geese fell out of the sky! Wow- what a perfect end to a 6 man limit of 12 honkers and 2 bonus ducks.
After the hunt, we all helped Phil and Mike pull the spread. I found that one of Phil’s favorite parts of the day is having breakfast/lunch with his hunters after the hunt is over. We made our way over to the local Perkins restaurant where we had a chance to relive the morning’s events and get to know each other a little better. This is where I found that Phil really make it about his guests as he takes the time to get to know each customer on a more personal level. I really had to commend Phil on his professionalism and hard work. It was very evident that there had been a lot of effort and scouting put into the hunt well before we arrived that morning.
I also had a chance to ask Phil a little more about his overall operation. I found that he has over 75 different fields and sloughs located in the three county area, west of the Twin Cities to hunt. These areas ranged from Monticello to Hutchinson. He is also able to accommodate goose hunters and duck hunters alike depending on what each customer is interested in hunting. Phil limits his hunts to a ½ day so that he can get out and scout for the next day. He also only hunts 5 days a week, so that he doesn’t get burned out by the end of the season and always has a fresh field for his hunters. One of the things I liked best was that Phil only has one group of hunters in each day and limits the group size to a maximum of 6 hunters including the guides. I think the true testament to Phil’s hunts is the fact that he has a 90% rebooking rate after each hunt for the following year which does make it a little tough to get in on one of Phil’s exceptional waterfowl hunts.
We paid our bill and said our good byes and thank you’s, but Phil was in no rush to leave. In fact he was the last one at the table. It was pretty neat to spend time with a guy like Phil Schmidt in the field, as well as out of the field. I even got a few great tips that I am definitely going to use on my next hunt!
Part 2: THE REVIEW
|OUTFITTER KNOWLEDGE / PERSONALITY: ||Score||5 / 5 |
It was very evident throughout the day that all aspects of Phil’s hunt were enjoyable. From his great personality, to his knowledge of the birds and how to hunt them as well as his strong work ethic- combined it made the hunt a complete success!
|QUALITY OF |
|Score||5 / 5|
For this particular set up we hunted over about 50 floater Canada goose decoys. Phil likes to mix in about 4 or 5 different brands from top of the line manufacturers to make his spread look as realistic as possible. On Phil’s field hunts, he runs over 12 – 20 dozen quality full body decoys. The lay out blinds were in excellent condition and were very comfortable. Everything was completely set up when we arrived.
|Score||5 / 5|
From the moment we arrived, until the time when the last goose fell we consistently had birds working the spread. It was very evident that Phil had been scouting hard well before the hunt took place. I could tell the birds wanted to be in our spot as we were definitely on the “X”. According to one of Phil’s best customers, this is a common theme on Phil’s hunts as in 54 hunts Bob had only been on 2 hunts where they did not take any game.
|QUALITY OF MEALS |
|Score||3 / 5|
Phil does not offer lodging with his hunts. However he is usually hunting within an hour of downtown Minneapolis, so for his local hunters that aspect of the hunt is not necessary. For his out of town hunters, Phil is able to make a recommendation for a clean, economical motel in close proximity to where they will be hunting.
HUNT PACKAGES AND
|Score||5 / 5|
Phil runs ½ day hunts, usually in the morning. He charges $135.00 per hunt. In addition to that Phil only allows a maximum of 6 hunters in the field at one time- guides included. For the effort and the caliber of hunt that he is able to offer I feel that price is a steal!
|OVERALL QUALITY |
OF THE TRIP:
|Score||5 / 5 |
Every detail of the hunt was well planned and the overall atmosphere throughout the hunt was light hearted and fun. Not to mention that we had multiple opportunities to harvest a limit of Canada geese as well as a few ducks on the side. After the hunt was over we all had a chance to have breakfast with Phil, offering an added dimension to the hunt. I don’t know that there was one thing I would have changed about the hunt to enhance it.
Overall Goose Busters Guide Service Scored 28 Out Of 30 Giving Them An "A" Rating. We Would Not Hesitate To Refer Them For Their Spectacular Minnesota Waterfowl Hunts!
|28 / 30|
Part 3: Booking Information
|Contact Information For Goose Busters Guide Service|
Outfitter: Phil Schmidt
Address: 8517 Dempsey Ave. SW Waverly, MN 55390
Email Address: Phil prefers to do business over the phone
Website Address: goosebustersgs.com
|Additional Services Offered|
In addition to Phils Twin City area Canada goose and ducks hunts, he also offers spring snow goose hunts in March and April in South Dakota. For more information on any of these hunts be sure to give Phil a call ASAP as 90% of his hunts are pre booked each year from his repeat customers.
|Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserve|