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Better Late Than Never

An afternoon hunt nets an international goose

Better Late Than Never
Mike Carrocci of Sunbury, Ohio, almost didn't go goose hunting on Jan. 2, 2010.

"I had some other things to do and wouldn't be able to get out until late in the day," he said. But the younger guys Carrocci regularly hunts with insisted.

"They said they'd set up, and I could get there later," he recalled.

By the time Carrocci got there, his buddies had all limited out.

"It was one of those days you live for," Carrocci recalled. "It was really cold and snowy, new migrants had just arrived and were looking for a place to feed. We were covered up with geese."


Carrocci hadn't even loaded his gun yet when a flock dropped in. Those geese didn't stick around, which gave the hunter time to load up and get ready.


The next flock arrived 20 minutes later and immediately worked to the decoys. Being the only shooter, Carrocci took his time to line up the first shot.

"I can't honestly say I saw a band, but something drew my eye to that particular bird," he said. "I shot. It dropped. Then I missed with my other two shots."

But one shot was more than good enough.

Carrocci was elated to find his goose sported a leg band and a neck collar. A veteran waterfowler, Carrocci immediately recognized the yellow neck collar with only three letters was unusual.


"The goose was also much smaller. We usually shoot giants," he said.

Even more unusual was the inscription on the leg band: Zoologisk Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark.

The group couldn't imagine how the bird could have flown all that way, but they were anxious to find out. Later, while Carrocci and one of his pals field-dressed the birds, the other searched the World Wide Web for information.


THE BAND


HUNTER: Mike Carrocci, Sunbury, OHBAND#: 2H-8561 GLL (yellow neck collar)SPECIES: Canada goose (M)BANDED: 7/19/2008LOCATION: Lake Y, Isunngua, GreenlandRECOVERED: 1/2/2010LOCATION: 1 mile east of Sunbury, OH

 

"I think the bird may be from Greenland," he subsequently announced.

Carrocci called the U.S. Geological Society to report the band, but they had no idea of its origin. They did, however, provide a contact at the bird-banding lab.

Carrocci called the lab the following Monday, and the woman he spoke thought she recognized the band's description. She contacted a colleague, Tony Fox in Denmark, who confirmed the bird's origin. According to Fox, the goose was banded on a lake simply known as Lake Y to the banding crew in Isunngua, near Kangerlussuaq in central-west Greenland -- a straight-line distance of 2,100 miles from where Carrocci killed it.

Other Greenland-banded geese have been reported in the United States, but primarily from their wintering grounds along the northern Atlantic coast. Carrocci's goose was recovered considerably farther west than any previous report.

While it is difficult to say for sure, Carrocci suspects the goose might have been blown westward by the severe northeaster that hit New England over New Year's weekend.

How it got there was ultimately less important than when.

Carrocci started out the day thinking he'd be late. As it turns out, he was right on time.

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