Good-luck Chuck

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 1, 2009

Vidalia — Charles Daniels has never been much of a goose hunter.

In fact, this is the 22-year-old’s first season hunting geese.

But on Jan. 24, he had a bit of beginner’s luck.

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Daniels shot and killed a banded snow goose, something relatively rare for seasoned goose hunters, much less a rookie.

“This is the first year I’ve hunted geese in my whole life,” Daniels said. “This is the fourth goose I’ve killed this year, the only four I’ve ever killed, and they were all snow geese.”

Daniels was hunting at the 3D Hunting Club in Ferriday with his friend Richard Durkin when he brought the special goose down.

He said he walked over to the goose and knew right away there was something special about it.

“(Durkin) was in the blind, and I was just yelling at him, telling him what I’d got,” Daniels said. “I’d always heard about people killing them. Richard, he’s an older guy, and whenever I kill a duck he’s always told me to check for a band.”

The band had identification number 1557-42426 and a phone number for the Bird Banding Laboratory to report the bird.

Charles said he called the number and was told where the bird came from and where it was banded.

“They send you a little certificate about where it came from,” he said. “It’s supposed to be here in four to five weeks.”

He said he’ll have the bird mounted and probably post the certificate under it.

The bird is a Lesser Snow Goose banded in the Manitoba Province of Canada on July 21, 2000.

Danny Bystrak with the Bird Banding Laboratory said most geese are banded in the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Very rarely, geese will have two bands. The second is a reward band, and the person who reports it will get $100 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The purpose of the reward band program is to determine the rate at which people report bands,” Bystrak said. “Only a very small sample have reward bands. The assumption is that nobody’s going to turn down $100.”

Bystrak said Daniels’ goose did not have a reward, but very few do.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is tracking the geese to determine migration habits and to attempt to control the population.

They breed in Canada and fly down to the Gulf Coast in the winter.

But once considered a dwindling species, Snow Geese are now abundant and harming their own habitats.

According to the Canadian Wildlife Service’s 2008 Status Report for Geese, the Spring 2008 population was approximately 1 million and has been relatively stable since 1999.

But that is too many geese, the survey says, and they’re causing damage to vegetation and crops and changes in soil salinity, nitrogen dynamics and moisture levels.

The solution, the CWS said, is more hunting.

That’s good news for Daniels, who seems to be pretty good at hunting the geese.

“Some of the older guys, they’ve killed one,” he said.

“But they’ve been hunting for 40 or 50 years.”