Honkers for heroes

(Above) Honkers for Heroes organizers, Zane Kantaris [front left] and Jason Hahn [front right] admire a Canada goose bagged by Vietnam veteran Gene Hockenson [right rear] of Plymouth while Iraq and Afghanistan veteran and two-time Purple Heart recipient, Matt Macke [left rear] looks on.  Honkers for Heroes was a two-and-a-half-day waterfowl adventure held to honor veterans serving in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.

North Iowans pay a unique tribute to America’s veterans

by Lowell Washburn

Crouched within the tight confines of their grassy blind, an eager group of ten hunters was finally treated to the sound they’d been longing for.  To them, it was simply the sweetest music on earth – the distinctive, clarion call of approaching Canada geese.  Although the geese had yet to be seen, the increasing volume of their honking said they were headed in the right direction.

Hunt coordinator, Zane Kantaris was the first to spot the birds.  “Two big flocks coming from the north,” he announced.  “They’re looking good.  Be ready.”    

Appearing as a twin string of dots etched against the overcast sky, the geese steadily loomed larger.  While still a quarter mile distant, it suddenly became clear that the incoming Canadas had spotted the more than 250 goose decoys carefully arranged atop the freshly harvested corn stubble.  Adjusting their course, the birds set their wings and began to tentatively lose altitude.  But it’s late in the hunting season and geese have become wary.  And although interested, the flock had yet to be fully convinced.  Their fate became sealed as hunt co-organizer, Adam Brock pressed the goose call to his lips, producing a sound so pure and so realistic that it was hard to believe that a live bird hadn’t somehow sneaked into the blind.  Arching their necks and cupping their wings, the incoming geese quickly replied with excited enthusiasm.  Crouching even lower, the party of ten watched in awe as the scene continued to unfold.  Hushed and excited whispers of “Just look at that” or “This is unbelievable” began passing up and down the line.

The flock’s descent continued until with black webs extended, the giant birds

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