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Band Tales: Spring Fling

Three-thousand miles later at an Alberta goose shoot...

Band Tales: Spring Fling

Spring conservation seasons were implemented to address the overabundant midcontinent population of snow geese that was damaging its own arctic and sub-arctic nesting grounds. They also provide waterfowlers with a source for some additional recreation and organic protein, and occasionally a band or two worth bragging about.

Red Deer resident Spencer Podgurski and his pals Riley Kloss, Jake Dahl and Roger Marcil are experienced fall hunters but were newcomers to the spring season when they set out in search of some sport. “We started out leaving the house on Saturday around 4 p.m. to follow up on a hot tip,” Podgurski began, recounting his adventure. “The field we were directed to had birds, somewhere around eight to ten thousand, but we had issues, including locating the landowners to get permission. After two hours of watching, searching and asking around town, we finally gave up.”

Hope springs eternal and after watching twilight flights covering several square miles, the group finally found a half-section where they wanted to be. “It took two farm visits and four phone calls to track down the landowner who gave us permission with two conditions: don’t rut the field, and shoot them all,” Podgurski said. They arrived home around 11:30 p.m. and managed a few hours of fitful sleep before the 1:30 a.m. alarm signaled it was time to begin what would turn out to be a very long and productive day.

After setting out 80 dozen socks and 20 dozen full-body decoys, they settled in for the dawn flight. The action was steady throughout the day and when it ended, they had managed their full four-man limit of 200 light geese, including six bands. Among them were two Ross’s geese banded nine years earlier and only six numbers apart, but these two weren’t the most unusual.

A short time later, a group of lesser snows buzzed the right side of the spread giving the left-handed Podgurski a rare advantage, which he did not waste. His bird was also banded but poor cell service prohibited him from reporting it right away. When he finally did, on a borrowed phone, he got a real surprise. The bird had traveled over 3,000 miles, from Wrangel Island, Russia.

The Wrangel Island goose population had declined to a little over 50,000 birds by the mid-1970s but has since soared to somewhere in the neighborhood of 350,000 strong. As many as 100,000 travel southeast to winter in North Puget Sound, Washington. There, they mix with geese from the western arctic population of lesser snow geese, which breed primarily on Banks Island, Northwest Territories. And sometimes, they wander even farther east in places like Johnson Point, Nunavut.

The Bands

  • Hunter: Spencer Podgurski, Red Deer, AB.
  • Band #: 2197-85970
  • Species: Lesser Snow Goose (M)
  • Banded: 07/13/2018
  • Location: Zvezdniy, Chukotka Avtonomyy Okrug, Russia.
  • Recovered: 04/16/2020
  • Location: Flagstaff County, AB.

  • Hunter: Jake Dahl, Red Deer, AB.
  • Band #: 2097-25739
  • Species: Ross's Goose (F)
  • Banded: 08/05/2011
  • Location: Johnson Point, NU.
  • Recovered: 04/16/2020
  • Location: Flagstaff County, AB.

  • Hunter: Roger Marcil, Red Deer, AB.
  • Band #: 2097-25745
  • Species: Ross's Goose (M)
  • Banded: 08/05/2011
  • Location: Johnson Point, NU.
  • Recovered: 04/16/2020
  • Location: Flagstaff County, AB.

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