Band Tales: One Year Apart

Band Tales: One Year Apart

A hunter kills a matched pair of geese in consecutive seasons.

Over the past 20 years, resident Canada geese populations have grown from a novelty to a nuisance. One of the benefits to waterfowlers, however, is additional goose seasons. Designed to target resident geese in deference to their migrant cousins, these hunts typically occur earlier in the fall, when conditions are often quite mild and comfortable.

It was on just such a bluebird day that Mike Coffman found himself in a goose blind not far from his Roann, Ind., home. The geese were flying that day. As one group worked toward Coffman, he noticed something peculiar. He zeroed in on the odd-looking bird and neatly dropped it with one shot. Upon retrieving it, his suspicions were confirmed. Not only was the old gander wearing jewelry, it also sported a dandy ascot, in the form of a white neck collar.

The U.S. Geological Survey certificate he received for reporting his recovery confirmed the bird was indeed a local goose, banded four years earlier and just 10 miles from where it was killed. But the story doesn't end there.

Almost exactly a year later, Coffman was back at it, hunting the same blind for another shot at the early-season geese.

"Everything was the pretty much the same except for the year," he said.

And he wasn't just referring to the weather.

The geese were flying and, as a small bunch bore down on his location, Coffman was suddenly overcome with a sensation of deja vu.

"Could it be?" he thought as he singled out yet another neck-collared goose. The hunter took careful aim, not wanting to miss such a rare trophy. Just as he had the year before, Coffman dropped the bird neatly, this time into the pond he hunted over.

Approaching the upturned bird, he could see the silver leg band. But when he hefted the goose out of the water, he got a ghastly surprise. Coffman's aim was so good that he literally shot the bird's head off. The collar had sunk to the bottom of the pond.

Fortunately, he still had the band, which he promptly phoned in to the proper authorities. Not only was his second Canada goose a resident bird, it was banded on the same day by the same bander as the previous season's goose. The band numbers were only 23 apart, proof positive the early resident goose seasons are accomplishing the intended objective.

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