SOUTH OF CHICAGO–Sitting on camo buckets and green chairs two rows into standing corn, we eyed Canada geese coming off ponds to the north Sunday and hoped they came into the minimalist spread of decoys Frank Lagodny set out.
The 15-day early Canada goose season in Illinois ran through Tuesday.
Hundreds of geese flew, but none even gave us a flyby. The closest was a string of a dozen, who flew low down a fencerow a couple hundred yards east.
So there was talk, interrupted occasionally by flocks near enough for Mike Lagodny, Frank’s nephew, to raise a black flag above the corn and try to pull the geese in.
What interested me more was how Lagodny gained permission to hunt a prime piece south of Chicago.
A year ago we were sitting in a goose pit talking when he mentioned he had permission to hunt the property, which I had eyed for more than a decade.
I immediately asked, “How did you get permission to hunt that?’’
Sunday morning I got the story.
Lagodny, who lives in the south suburbs and is a shop teacher at Prosser, has a knack and a system for gaining permission.
In this case, it took nearly 15 years of building relationships. Such is the dire lack of hunting space in Illinois, complicated in recent years by the intense focus on deer hunting (which often precludes other hunting) and outfitters willing to pay big hunting leases.
“I hate when they write about being on the X,’’ Lagodny said. “No, this is where I get to go. I can’t go to the X.’’
That’s hunting reality in Illinois.
The farmer/owner sold corn stalks as fall decorations, which Lagodny used to cover a blind. A few years ago, he felt comfortable enough to ask the farmer if he could go in the field and cut stalks for his blind.
“As I’m asking to cut corn stalks to cover blinds, hundreds of geese are coming out of the corn as he cut it,’’ Lagodny said.
Well, he finally got his permission. It helps that Lagodny has the personality where he talks with people easily. Then he takes building and maintaining relationships with landowners or farmers seriously.
He types out letters with the description and license numbers of his vehicles, and his phone numbers.
When scouting for likely new areas, he also has a strategy.
“Go to the assessor’s office and find out who pays the taxes,’’ he said. “I found the assessor’s office is worth its weight in gold.’’
As we talked, crows stalked the cut field in front. A couple dozen barn pigeons wheeled up and down.
A few times geese looked close enough that Mike Lagodny lifted the black flag–a construction built from a cane fishing pole worthy of a shop teacher–above the corn and tried to pull them in.
About 8 a.m., geese started flying back to the ponds, without paying decoys or flag mind.
It was time.
“As I wrote in my hunting [diary], the 2015-16 hunting season oozed open at a glacial pace,’’ Lagodny said.
CORN: Maybe that pace will pick up. Corn harvest in Illinois through Sunday is at six percent, half of the five-year average. But I expect it to pick up with the weather this week.
IN MEMORY: Memorial services for Max Boheme of Lisle, who died Saturday during the salmon tournament of the Great Lakes Kayak Fishing Series out of Manitowoc, Wis., are 1- 4 p.m. Sunday at Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Home, 516 S. Washington St., Naperville.
CLEAN SCENE: The 33rd Kankakee Iroquois River Clean Up (northernilanglersassoc.com/Cleanup), the one that started it all, is Saturday.
STRAY CAST: The Bears season emerges like a mudpuppy pulled up at Navy Pier.