Golf-Course Geese

December 23, 2011

golf couse goose huntingI’ve always had a great relationship with the golf course. Yes, I would get a few dirty looks from golfers when we’d start shooting and making all kinds of noise starting the opening day of early goose season. Maybe a few complaints too, but nothing serious. I always thought that most of the folks at the course liked me hunting the geese that are known as the scourge of the golf community. Little did I know that was soon to be put to the test.

It came about one day during the regular goose season. It was early on and one of the other farmers had recently cut his corn, so the hunting had been slow. I was hunting with my buddy Rick, a Michigan state trooper with a twisted sense of humor. I like hunting with Rick because he hunts safely, but I always end up laughing and having a great time.

We were "staked out" as it were in a patch of weeds that had grown back after the corn had been cut. It gave us a great natural ambush spot right in the area where the flocks had been landing a few days before. But like I said, it had slowed down. We decided to hunt anyway, as there were always geese around due to the golf course and I hoped that we could decoy in a few.

It wasn’t super early in the day, but we were already starting to think about bailing on hunting and going for breakfast. The few flocks we had seen were giving us a wide berth as they bee-lined it for the fresh-cut corn several miles away. I looked at Rick and could tell he was thinking the same thing.

"Well, should we pack it in?" he asked.

"I don’t know, what do you think?" I responded.

"Well if I go home now, I might be able to make some brownie points with the wife."

"I doubt it." At this point in time we wasted another 15 minutes making derogatory comments about Rick’s wife — well ex-wife now. Hey, it was all fair in the goose-hunting field.

"Let’s pack it in and go for coffee," I said.

"Dude, I think I hear a goose."

"Yeah, right."

"I did, goose to the south!" Rick dove for cover. I didn’t follow right away, as this was one of our standard gags during slow times in the field.

Honk!

I dove for cover too, trying desperately to find my calls, and get some hail calls going back to the flock. Flock? No flock. Goose. A lone goose was flying from the south, directly in line with the other fields and headed right over us and to the ponds of the golf course.

A few hails and feeding chuckles and the goose started to lock wings and deploy landing gear. But then something happened. It didn’t like what it saw. Maybe the two idiots barely concealed in the weeds in the field had something to do with it. It flared at 75 plus yards and continued on toward the course.

Now don’t call me a sky buster. I work very hard to pattern my shotgun with all of my hunting loads and at several ranges. I also practice longer shots. So as this lone goose started to fly by me at 45-50 yards, I knew I could take it. The shot rang out and the pellets from my 3 ½-inch load of BB Faststeel connected with the solitary Canada. The bird rolled in the air and started coming down.

But…

The bird still had enough life left in it to glide down. We watched it glide across the field and approach the road. Then it went over the road. Then it was over the edge of the golf course.

"This is going to be bad," said Rick.

"Nah, there won’t be a problem," I replied. As I said that, the icy hand of fate stepped in. The goose folded up and dive-bombed in the last few yards. Unfortunately it sailed into the tee box for the first hole. Standing in the tee area at the time was a golfer, completely oblivious to my hunting activities and the incoming goose. He was, however, totally engrossed in his game and, at that moment, his swing.

golf course goose huntingNow from our vantage point all we saw was a golfer in his backswing, an explosion of feathers and, a few moments later, the same golfer getting back up from the ground. Yes, I took him out in mid-backswing with a 15-pound dead Canada goose. My jaw dropped. Rick’s jaw dropped and then exploded with laughter.

"No way! Dude, you just took that guy down with a goose!"

"Um… I… Ummm."

"I told you this was not going to be good."

I set my gun down and started toward the golf course. I had no idea what I was going to do or say, but I knew I needed to go over there. "Hey, if they call the cops, come get me. I’ll make sure you don’t get tazed or anything," Rick called out to me as I headed across. Thanks for the comforting words.

I no sooner stepped onto the course than the course manager in a golf cart met me. He told me to get in and we started to head up to the clubhouse. I thought this was going to be really bad. I started running things through my head, wondering what would happen next. As we pulled into the building, I was met by a mob of roughly 25 people. They were all laughing and applauding. They had witnessed the whole thing and thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen. Most of the people were folks from town who played in a golf league. I still get stopped around town years later and asked if I attacked any golfers with geese.

I have often wondered how I would start this story if I were to put it down in writing. It is one of those stories that are best told face to face, possibly with adult beverage of choice in hand. Know this — this actually happened. The names have not been changed, but the exact location remains secret, for now. The location is a 40-acre parcel, square in shape with roughly 5 acres of hardwoods in the center. Half of the remaining land was in hay, the other rotated between corn, oats and wheat. Separating this land from the golf course was a state road that saw a decent amount of traffic. The golf course and its ponds "naturally" brought in geese by the flock and my field made for a convenient feeding stop. Geese would also fly in from the local town pond a few miles away, attracted by the golf geese. Basically, I have a natural magnet for geese and one of the best hunting spots in northern Lower Michigan.

And when I inquired about the golfer I had hit, I was told, "Aw, he’s fine. He kept on playing. Just said to tell you next time, tell him to duck."