Hunting Swans With Beams On The Prairie

Top Gun Hunt

Chasing Rochester’s Canada Geese With Top Gun Guide Service
by Dan Wennerlind

As we pulled into the Kwikie Mart located off of 55th Street in Rochester, Minnesota at 6:30 am (Top Gun’s official meeting place) on this the last weekend of the 2006 Canada goose season in late December, my co-partner for the day Jonathon Sampson and I eagerly met with head guide and outfitter Matt Kostka of Top Gun Guide Service and his “Posse” of goose hunting guides. This would be my first opportunity to try-out, first hand the services of Top Gun Guide Service, one of’s newest waterfowl hunting outfitters- and the last chance of the year to bag one of Minnesota’s Giant honkers.

As we shared a few war stories in the parking lot and tried to keep warm outside of the roaring diesel trucks, we patiently awaited the last few hunters of the morning.

I could already tell that we were in for a fantastic waterfowl adventure. Matt Kostka and his top guide Mike Schmidt were already cracking jokes and making us feel right at home.

Although it was probably daybreak by the time we got set up, you sure wouldn’t know it with the dense fog covering our spread. Every now and again we could hear the sounds of a distant flock of geese rolling through the early morning fog. Then out of now where a flock would quickly appear and then disappear again as fast and as silent as they were seen. And let me tell you, as soon as we had verification that there were geese in the area boy did the guys give it to ‘em. Priding myself on being a hardcore Canada goose hunter, I have never hunted with four guides who sounded better on a call and worked off of each other as well as this team did. You could sure tell that these guys spent a lot of time together in the field.

Finally after about an hour of playing hide and seek with the Giants of Rochester, we hit it right and a flock of 8 birds worked right over the top of us, circled around once and the guys sucked ‘em right in. It didn’t take much prodding from the pit buzzer for the anxious hunters to let loose, myself included. We were able to dump four monsters out of that flock and sent the other four heading for the hills in a hurry! Throughout the morning we had numerous flocks work us but being the final weekend of a hard hunted season, these birds definitely had a Ph D in goose hunting to say the least. To even get an opportunity at one of these magnificent creatures this late in the year was a real treat. Around 11:00 am the fog finally lifted and we were able to see what all of the fuss was about.

We had approximately 1,000+ birds feeding in the field directly adjacent to our field, in the refuge. Talk about a challenging hunt. Around 11:30 am the boys were finally able to pull another pair into the spread and they went down in flames!

At noon Matt gave all of the hunters the option of taking a lunch break and hitting it again for the afternoon hunt or calling it a day.At noon Matt gave all of the hunters the option of taking a lunch break and hitting it again for the afternoon hunt or calling it a day. Several of the hunters, including the youngsters decided to call it a day while Jonathon and myself decided to give it another go around. Matt and his crew took us to a town favorite for B-BQ sandwiches- what a meal, just what the doctor ordered after a long cold morning in the goose field. At lunch we had a chance to get to know the guides a little better and share some more stories from the past fall.

Although the afternoon hunt was a little slower, as most of the birds we had seen / heard that morning did not come out again, it was a great opportunity for me to get to know one of out newest additions to the organization a little better and enjoy the sounds that a flock of four exceptional goose callers can make when properly motivated. Outfitter Matt Kostka also explained to us that although the hunting this day was not to their standards, he shared with us that Top Gun Guide Service had taken over 1,289 honkers this fall alone. Matt also explained why they have been so successful through the past few years. Matt and his partner Jarred Brown have recently teamed up with another seasoned guide in the area Mike Nelson, or “Big Mike” as he often referred to by most of his clients. Together the new team has leased over 20 of the best fields surrounding the Rochester area, on all sides of the town. This gives them the versatility to keep up with the birds no matter what direction they head out to feed, on any given day of the season. They have also hired some of the most knowledgeable and gifted goose callers in the state to help pull the Giants of Rochester into their spread of decoys day in and day out.

As the sun went down, we decided it was time to pack it up and head for home. After everything was packed away safe and sound, we graciously thanked Matt and his crew for an exciting and educational late season hunt and headed off into the night knowing that it is not always a full bag limit that makes it a successful hunt!

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