Dick Hunt's Blog

March 13, 2011

Goose Stories

Filed under: Current — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 5:32 pm
Goose Stories
by Dick Hunt, March 13th, 2011.
I grew up in Alberta where some years in harvest times with inclement weather we lost most of our wheat crop to infestations of Canada Geese. They fattened up on our wheat and trampled much of it into the ground, while we stood by watching the carnage and waiting for dry weather so that we could garner what remained of the crop.  We invited hunters to our fields but they had little effect on the voracious birds. I have seen entire fields of grain blanketed in gray or ccasionally the color would be white with snow geese.  They too ruined the crops. One year, my brother David visited us in the fall and I took him out to see if he could bag a Canada Goose. I stopped on the side of the road and suggested he should creep up a small hill to the crest where the geese were flying east and very low to the ground, because of a brisk wind.  There was a fringe of uncut grain along the fence line where he could hide.  The geese were still pouring over the hill when he reached his vantage point.  Suddenly there was the bang of a shotgun and I saw the air above the hill burst into a mass of grey feathers.  He had shot a goose at close range and had literally blown it to pieces. There was nothing left for him to take home.
Two friends had come to have a goose hunt on our land and had dug goose pits in our wheat field early one morning They set out goose lures and waited for the geese to come over.  I was watching in the car some little distance away.  Finally five grey geese flew over, eying the goose lures from an altitude of about 120 feet. My friends Ed Neff and Bill Graburn jumped up, each fired two shots and they brought down four of the five geese. I went over to talk with them and learned that they were both using number six shot shells, which we normally used for smaller birds such as ducks  They were very accurate shots and the geese were dead before they hit the ground.
During the war when I was in the R.C.A.F., I was on a Union Steamship called ‘Cardena’ on the way from Bella Bella on the central coast to Vancouver.  A Hampden Bomber from Coastal Command was flying low past the ship at the same time as a White (Snow) Goose was in the same space.  The bomber hit the goose at the end of one wing and the impact tore the end of the wing off, including the landing light.  There was a veritable storm of white feathers in the air on impact like a miniature snowstorm.  Geese and to a lesser extent smaller birds are a great danger to Jet Aircraft, especially flying over airports for landing and taking off.  Even small birds being sucked into the jet engines will do massive damage and put an engine out of service immediately.
My Brother Bill had his own light plane on his ranch east of Calgary 125 miles.  One day as he was taking off on his private airstrip, he noticed a large flock of Canada geese just taking off from a body of water south of his buildings.  He turned toward them and followed them to see how fast they were flying.  He increased his speed, caught up to them and they split to either side allowing him to fly past them and at that point they were flying at 90 miles per hour.  They are mighty birds, but around airports and public parks they are a real menace. They mess up grassy areas where children play and their faeces are a constant problem for public servants and for the families who use the facilities
A couple of friends flew from Calgary to our Ranch  in an Aircoupe low wing monoplane to get some geese.  I showed them where to go and they borrowed my pickup for the short trip to the field.  Some time later they appeared back at the plane with a very large male goose which was flying alone.  They both shot at it and down it came. They took it home and on the flight they noticed that a bad odor pervaded the cockpit.   It turned out that bird had been shot before, had serious lead poisoning and was flying alone due to it’s serious injuries. They had to dispose of the bird.

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