Goosefest Attracts Hunters to Kenmare


Every fall for the past 28 years, Kenmare, North Dakota has promoted its hunting heritage through the Goosefest.

This year, the tradition was renewed in the town that sits in the gooseneck of Ward County.

Jim Olson went hunting this morning with five men from Bismarck who make a trip to Goosefest an annual event.

It’s well before sunrise when five Bismarck men start setting up to hunt near Kenmare during the town’s Goosefest.

(Ben Brilz, Bismarck) “We’re going to set up and find some good tall stuff right now and play the wind.”

The setup is simple yet time-consuming. Goose decoys must be placed in natural-looking poses and spaced out among the blinds that will hold the hunters.

(Scott Schaffner, Bismarck) “Kind of fan them out a bit and make a bit of a landing zone for them.”

And the hunters’ blinds have to be dug (1830) into the ground a bit to keep from tipping off the sometimes-skittish geese.

“You’ve been coming up here a few years now?”

(Barry Brilz, Bismarck) “I think this is our fifth year.”

Barry Brilz and his sons Ben, Nick, and Josh plus friend Scott Schaffner come here a couple of times a year now to do some goose hunting.

(Ben Brilz, Bismarck) “We heard about this Goosefest from a friend and we decided to try it out and we’ve been coming ever since.”

Once the staging is done, it’s time to settle in for the waiting – with the waning moon and Jupiter keeping watch – there was little to do but wait for the sun. We had some visitors – a coyote in the distance checked us out and moved along.  And some hawks gave us the eye from above.

“Nothing out there yet. It’s a little early.”

This time is filled with scanning the sky – with the naked eye or with the help of binoculars – and listening for the telltale honk of Canada Geese.
Not long after the sun made its appearance in the east, we finally spied a flock of honkers headed our way.

They passed right over us, but the hunters held their fire – something they vowed not to do next time

And the next time was just four minutes later

(sounds of gunshots)
“Here comes some more. Over there.”
(sounds of gunshots)

“These are big geese – might be 12-14 pound geese. Down in Bismarck we see 9-11 pound geese.”\

In all, the group had nine birds that would become goose jerky – a Brilz family tradition

(Scott Schaffner, Bismarck) “It’s an event we all look forward to, every year. We plan on doing many more of them.”

Something the organizers of the Kenmare Goosefest are happy to hear.

Near Kenmare, Jim Olson, KX News.

The Goosefest concludes tomorrow night with a banquet in Kenmare.

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