May 04, 2022
By Bob Humphrey
Stuttgart, Arkansas, is the greenhead capital of North America, and a bucket list destination for any serious waterfowler. It’s also an important wintering ground for light geese; one where hunters annually harvest more than 80,000 birds. It’s not surprising then that when Arizona waterfowler Matthew Farnham and several friends traveled there for a two-day guided hunt, his expectations were high, though not to the level of what he would ultimately accomplish.
It didn’t take long for the action to start on the hunt’s first day. In fact, nobody was ready for the first visitor, a solo blue goose... almost nobody. “The bird came in and flew right over all six us just a few feet above our heads,” recalled Farnham. Then it landed 10 yards behind their blind.
“Did you see that?” he asked the group, but the others were all so busy preparing that none had. “The guide told me to shoot it, so I stood up and popped it with one shot,” Farnham continued.
The hunters and even the guide were flummoxed as to how they missed seeing the bird. They were even more incredulous when Farnham returned with a blue goose sporting not one, but two bands, including one for a $50 reward.
That alone would have been quite an accomplishment. The feat proved even more rewarding when Farnham reported the band and discovered the bird’s origin and age. It was banded in 2003, meaning it had made the long flight from its breeding grounds on Southampton Island, Nunavut to its wintering grounds in Arkansas - a one way distance of more than 2,500 miles - at least 30 times. An interesting side note: the oldest blue goose on record, at 30 years, 8 months, was banded in, of all places, Arizona. The third oldest, at 19 years and 6 months was shot in Arkansas. Farnham summed it by saying, “It was one of the best hunts I have been on.” I should think so.
HUNTER: Matthew Farnham, Prescott Valley, AZ
BAND #: 1707-43597 ($50 Reward)
SPECIES: Blue Goose (F)
LOCATION: Coral Harbor, NU
LOCATION: Stuttgart, AR
If you have a particularly interesting story or band recovery tale, CLICK HERE to fill us in on the whole story and we might use it as one of our next Band Tales.