The Straight Poop On Canada Geese

This story was published in the October 2009 issue of Wildfowl magazine.

Let’s put one vicious rumor to rest right now: Canada geese do not produce one pound of solid waste per day. Some goose hunters might, after a bowl of bad chili or a tainted pizza, but Canada geese? No way.

It may seem like they do if your kid plays soccer or baseball on a field where several dozen geese have been grazing, but according to Dr. Bruce Manny, research fishery biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, the average Canada goose produces 0.3432 lbs. (5.49 oz.) of wet droppings per day, which is equivalent to 0.0722 lbs. (1.15 oz.) of dry droppings. I find this hard to believe, since I’ve scraped that much off my shoes after nine holes of golf.

Now, to me, the key word in this scenario is average. To get an average figure, someone has to weigh the “production” of more than one goose. In fact the more geese used in the study the more valid your average becomes. Therefore someone has what is probably a full-time job weighing goose poop. {I know, I know. it’s a nasty job but somebody has to do it.}

No matter where you work you know that the new guy gets the worst assignments, then works his way up toward the plums that come with seniority. I’m sure Dr. Manny himself doesn’t crawl around on his hands and knees with a little scale picking up blobs of goose poop and weighing them {although he may have when he first went to work for the U.S. Geological Survey}. This assignment probably goes to an intern, maybe a biologist wannabe, or the kid who was hired last week, just out of college. When this unfortunate person gets home from work after a hard day in the field, you can imagine what his answer will be when his wife asks, “How were things at work today, Dear?’

The more you think about it, the more questions arise. Do they put diapers on individual geese, then take them off at the end of the day and weigh the contents? Or is each employee assigned a specific goose to monitor, walking around behind it with a pad and pencil and a measuring cup? What happens if your goose decides to fly away? Are you just **** out of luck? And what is a goose poop day anyway, twelve hours or twenty-four? How do you measure your goose’s production when it goes to roost on water at night? Is proficiency at scuba diving, or at least snorkeling, a prerequisite for the job? What about the poor soul who has to crawl around on his hands and knees trying to decide whether the droppings are wet or dry? There’s only one way to tell. Right?

According to someone named Choo Choo Love {I’m not making this up, as Dave Barry would say} who is evidently an authority on the subject, “theirs smells better than ours”. On what empirical evidence does she base this statement? Personal experience? Talk about your cruddy jobs….

If we think Canada geese make a mess on our golf courses, our parks, and ball fields, we should hope snow and blue geese never take up the habits of their darker cousins. Can you imagine zillions of snows and blues waddling around on your favorite golf course, each one depositing its individual 5.4 oz. wet {1.5 oz. dry} allotment of waste per day? You think sand traps and water hazards are problems…

However they arrive at their alleged “average”, I’m just glad someone other than yours truly has this important job. The next time I’m lying on my back in a layout blind watching these majestic birds circle my decoys, I’ll try to remember that they don’t each produce a pound of waste per day. And I’ll hope that, as they reject my decoys and fly away high overhead, they don’t punctuate their disapproval of my spread and my lousy calling by depositing any of it, either wet or dry, on my face.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pooped out just thinking about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockbridge, Missouri

Rockbridge, just a hoot and a holler north of Gainesville, MO, is the perfect place to take a kid fishing. It’s the perfect place for anyone who likes to catch big, dumb trout. Sort of like sending a struggling young ballplayer down to the minors to get his confidence back.

With a picturesque old mill, modern cabins, and an excellent restaurant it’s a relaxing place to spend a few days. The stream, a tributary of Bryant Creek, is stocked with rainbow trout and you must keep every fish you catch. A guy cleans and packages them and you pick them up when you check out. You pay for your fish by the pound and if you’re a competent fisherman it can get expensive. But it’s worth every penny.

Raleigh Eggers of Manhattan, KS and I spent two days there recently. Old geezers like me wear out easily so I never fished more than an hour at a time. Using a #12 beadhead olive & black woollybugger I caught all the trout I wanted.

Check it out at www.rockbridgemo.com .

If you can't catch fish here you can't catch fish anywhere.

If you can’t catch fish here you can’t catch fish anywhere.

Typical Rockbridge rainbows

Typical Rockbridge rainbows

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Opener

opener-illust-_edited-1

This story was published in the September 1999 issue of Wyoming Wildlife magazine. It was awarded first place in the Magazine Humor category of the 2000 OWAA Excellence in Craft Contests.

 

The Opener

To an incurable duck hunting addict, opening day of the season is like no other day. You may have other interests that occupy your time during the rest of the year, but no matter how much you enjoy them, they are, after all, just a way to kill time ‘til duck season.

We all have our own ways of preparing for opening day. I once had a hunting partner who  went into this most important day of the year with no preparation all.

“You mind stopping by a convenience store?” he would ask in the truck as we drove through dark city streets on our way to the interstate. “I need to pick up some donuts or something.”

Once he even uttered those words you never want to hear at 4:30 A.M. on opening morning: “You don’t mind taking a little detour, do you? There’s a place across town that’s open 24/7. I need to pick up a hunting license and some shells.”Needless to say, he’s now my ex-hunting partner.

Such people often use their work as an excuse for this thoughtless behavior.

“I didn’t get home from work ‘til midnight so I didn’t have time to get all my stuff ready.”

I turn a deaf ear to this pathetic whining. You can always find another job, but a ruined opening day is gone forever.

My preparations usually include nausea, diarrhea, irritability, and compulsive rechecking of shells, decoys, and dog paraphernalia. Does my shotgun have the plug in it? Is the automatic coffee maker programmed to fire up at the appropriate time? A.M. not P.M?

I set a minimum of three alarm clocks to ensure that I don’t oversleep, which is ridiculous because I never  sleep at all. If I do happen to fall asleep, I have a  realistic recurring nightmare in which I wake up at 9:00 A.M. in a cold sweat, cursing my malfunctioning alarm clocks.

My long-suffering wife always volunteers to sleep in another room to avoid my tossing and turning. When I get up at four-thirty opening morning I try to be quiet so I won’t wake her as I tippy-toe out to the kennel to let my Lab out. This is pretty dumb on my part. Who could sleep with all that racing around, slobbering, panting and whining going on? And that’s just me! The dog barks, stares at the door, and sometimes pees on the floor in her excitement.

At one time I made a living selling cartoons to a popular men’s magazine that features photographs of attractive young women. At least once a year I would fly to New York from my home in Kansas and have lunch with the magazine’s self-important yuppie cartoon editor. These trips were blatant attempts to suck up to him, not “hoping to catch a glimpse of the bimbos” as my wife’s accusations suggested.

On one such trip the editor explained that each year the magazine throws a big party with lots of free food and drink. All the luscious models featured in the magazine would be there. Would I like to attend this year’s gala as his guest?

I am a normal male human being. While my testosterone level is probably no higher than the next guy’s, I’m sure it’s no lower. This sounded like an occasion I wouldn’t want to miss.

“Sure”, I said. “When is it”?

“November first.”

“Well, in that case, I can’t make it”, I said sadly. “But send me an invitation anyway. I’ll frame it and hang it in my studio”

“Hey, they only give me five,” he said. “I can’t waste one on someone who won’t use it.” He took a sip of his Perrier with a twist of lemon.“What could be so important that it takes precedence over a bash like this?”

I looked him straight in the eye and told it like it was. “That’s opening day of duck season.”

“You mean you’d rather sit in a cold wooden box in a swamp and hope a bird flies by so you can shoot it than go to a party like this?” I thought he was going to spill his Perrier on his tassel loafers

“It’s a tough choice,” I said, “but yes, I’d rather be in a duck blind.”

He shook his head and rolled his eyes toward the ceiling.

“What are you – some kind of weirdo?”

“Yeah. You might say that,” I replied. “I’m a duck hunter.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WOW

 

This story was first published in the September 2006 issue of Wildfowl magazine.

“What is it with these places, anyway?” I asked as we got we got into our car.

My wife and I had been visiting my mother-in-law at a retirement home.

“What do you mean?”

“They’re all so… well… feminine.” I nudged the car out into the stream of traffic and we headed for home.

“The walls are all peach or beige. Doilies everywhere. A man doesn’t feel comfortable in that environment.”

“They’re so feminine because ninety percent of the residents are women”, replied my wife.

“Sure”, I said. “ We work ourselves into early graves trying to keep you ladies happy”. She shot me a hostile glance.

“How would you like them to be tricked out?” she asked. “Wood paneled walls? Spittoons?”

“You bet! Nice dark walnut with a prominent grain. And shiny brass spittoons for the dippers and chewers.”

“Only slightly less disgusting than carrying a paper cup around to spit in like some of your buddies”, she said.

“ And who needs all those wimpy paintings of flowers and Parisian street scenes? “ I was rapidly warming to my subject. “At least one room in the place should have wildlife art on the walls…mallards or pintails coming in with their wings locked. Some mounted teal and wood ducks. And you know what would really set the whole thing off? A big old Canada goose hanging from the ceiling by a piece of monofiliment, right over the dining room table like he was coming in to join us for dinner.”

Carol cringed as she fished around in her purse for a pen. “Do you want me to take notes in case you actually have some input when your time comes?” she asked, only half facetiously.

“Maybe a deer head or two.” I was really getting into it now. “And a moose or elk if there was room.”

“Fish and big game would make it more inclusive”, said Carol, scribbling furiously to keep up with my rapid thought process.

 

As I drove toward home I kept thinking of more things I’d want in my customized retirement home.

“You know those rails they have along the walls for the inmates to hang on to?”

She shot me another glance. “I believe they’re called ‘residents’ or ‘patients’.

“Yeah, residents. Anyway, the rails in this place were obviously fake. Some sort of composition material or plastic. Why couldn’t they be made of nice burled walnut or cherry like a fine old gun stock?”

“That might work”, she replied. I got the impression she was humoring me.

“And speaking of wood”, I said, “A few old decoys sitting around would make me feel more at home. Maybe a pair of Mason snakey head mallards and a nice old Madison Mitchell canvasback…and a big wood burning fireplace for cold weather.” I was on a roll.

“Not one of those fake jobs like they had here, with phony ceramic logs and little blue flames.”

“Probably a risk management factor”, said Carol, always the practical one. I had to give her that one.

My hypothetical retirement home was getting better all the time but something was still missing. When I thought of it I was amazed it had taken me so long. “What would really make us old guys feel at home would be a few muddy dogs laying around on the floor. Say… a Lab in each of the three colors: black, yellow, and chocolate. And a big old yellow-eyed Chessie laying in front of the fireplace licking his…. well… licking himself, and growling at anyone who tried to pet him.”

We drove in silence for a while until Carol asked. “What would you call this place?” I was glad she was at least pretending to go along with me.

“I don’t know”, I said. “I haven’t gotten that far yet.”

“How about ‘Geezers Galore”?

“Now you’re making fun of me”, I said as we turned into our driveway. “Okay…. what about… say… Worn Out Waterfowlers?”

“Well”, I said, “it does lend itself to a catchy acronym. WOW”.

I opened the door and let her go inside ahead of me. I briefly thought of myself as the cautious buck allowing the doe to enter the danger zone first.

“I can see the promo material now” I said. “ A grizzled old duck hunter with a droopy white mustache sitting before the fireplace in a rocking chair…”

“Licking his…” interrupted Carol.

“No no”, I said. “That’s the Chessie. Anyway, he’s wearing a rumpled old brown Jones hat like they used to wear before camo, and a plaid wool shirt. He’s got a glass of bourbon in one hand …”

“With a mallard or a Lab’s head engraved on the side”, chimed in Carol.

“Now you’re getting it”, I said, delighted. “And he’s petting his old white- muzzled retriever whose head is resting on his knee. And there’s a wooden decoy, riddled with shot holes, sitting on the hearth.”

She had the big picture now. “And he has an ammo belt looped over his shoulder, only instead of shotgun shells, the loops are full of suppositories.”

“Come on”, I said. “Get serious.”

“Sorry”, she said. “I got carried away. Anyway, the headline could read, “When it’s time to case the old pump gun, Come to WOW and spend your golden years with guys like yourself, reminiscing about those hallowed days in field and marsh, surrounded by the things you’ve always loved.”

“WOW!” I said. “I think you’ve got it!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pike on a fly rod

What’s the old saying? Even a blind hog finds an acorn every once in a while? My long-time fishing buddy and fellow Heart Of America Fly Fishers member Bill Lindley boated this 42.5″ northern pike on a 7 weight fly rod recently.

 

Where? Someplace between Nebraska and Canada. Wish I had been there to slap high fives with him … after he washed his hands of course. Pike are really slimy.Bills Pike_edited-1

 

Outdoor Writers Of Kansas Conference

The recent OWK conference gave photographer Jon Blumb and I a chance to explore the Flint Hills area near Emporia, KS and catch a LOT of fish.

We spent Monday May 4th with guide Bill Hartman fishing a ranch pond for crappie and bluegills from float tubes. Being a terminal geezer and a rooky float tuber I had trouble getting into and out of the tube and I never got the hang of steering with flippers. But once I got seated I found it to be a very comfortable way to fly fish. Our supply of crappie filets was down to zero but now, thanks to Hartman, the freezer is full once more.

While Bill and Jon filleted the fish I sat in Bill’s truck, mesmerized by the solar powered hula dancer on the dashboard. She obviously has a sustainable power source and leaves a tiny carbon footprint.

After cheeseburgers at Jay’s in Emporia Bill took us to Noel Lyons’ amazing antique fishing tackle museum. Among other relics of angling days past was a casting rod made from a Sherman tank antenna. You don’t see THAT every day!

If you want to get off I-35, see more of the Flint Hills, and do some warm water fly fishing Bill Hartman is your man. Check him out at http://www.flyfishkansas.com.

Tuesday we spent four hours on Melvern Lake with Rue Armstrong of the Topeka Bass Club. Between the three of us we boated and released over forty smallmouth bass. The lure of the day was something called a Wacky Worm Rig. I had never heard of it but the funny looking rig quickly made a believer out of me.

Some photos courtesy of Jon Blumb.