August 16, 2022

Art & Lifestyle:

Theater Holding Auditions for ‘Clue’ -

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Shakespeare Heads to St. Mary’s City -

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Young Artists Sought for Sotterley Contest -

Thursday, July 28, 2022

St. Mary’s, Eat, Live, and Be Healthy -

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Storied Canada Geese

Canada Geese
Photo by Mr. T in DC

Message from the Cap’n is a compilation of fishing advice, waterman and weather insights, Chesapeake lore, and ordinary malarkey from the folks who keep their feet wet in the Potomac and St. Mary’s rivers.

The Chesapeake Bay’s famed migratory Canada goose season opens today, Dec. 15, 2017, and will run through Feb. 3, 2018, in the Atlantic Population Hunt Zone which includes St. Mary’s and most other Maryland counties. In wishing you and yours the best of the season (goose and otherwise), here is a LexLeader re-posting of Shane Mattingly’s excellent history of the Canada goose and its arrival in the Chesapeake Bay:

There are nine species of waterfowl that draw hunters to the Chesapeake Bay, but none as storied as the giant Canada goose.

You’ve got to figure geese out, say the hunters who share stories in the blinds and hedgerows where they wait, autumn through winter, for flocks to fly by or light. Their stories can rival the most extraordinary fish stories told.

But there is little to rival the draw of the “black-feathered goose from Canada,” the exact translation of the Latin “Branta Canadensis” name bestowed in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus, who devised the Latin genus/species classification system of the natural world still in use today.

The English name “Canada goose” appeared first in 1770 according to the Oxford English Dictionary. But that was more than a century after the first English-speaking settlers likely watched native Americans capture ducks and geese.

As one story goes, the natives floated pumpkins in the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay tributaries until the geese ignored them, not suspecting that some were hollowed and worn over the heads of hunters who would approach and grab a pair of webbed feet and carry dinner home.

Well before the naming began, huge migrating flocks in their identifiable Vs crossed North American along four flyways — Pacific, Central, Mississippi and Atlantic — heading south each autumn and back north in spring. The Atlantic Flyway migration path follows the eastern shore of Hudson Bay and James Bay, across central New York and eastern Pennsylvania and south to the Delmarva peninsula. The Chesapeake Bay area has become the most heavily used wintering area for Canada geese of the Atlantic Flyway.

Their growing popularity as a sport-hunting waterfowl and various weather disasters led to a depletion of migratory populations during some decades of the 20th century. While conservation efforts have stabilized the Atlantic Flyway population, a resident population came into being in the Chesapeake. Soon, two distinct sets of Canada geese spent their winters in the Chesapeake. In the spring when many of the geese headed north to breed in Quebec, up to 1,600 miles away, others remained in the Chesapeake region.

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, resident geese originated from the release of live decoys during the 1930s and government and private stocking programs and remain mainly on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay in urban and suburban areas.

Fostering growth of resident populations as well as some migratory flocks is the species’ preference for lawns which provide easily digestible grass and unobstructed views of predators. Parks and golf courses have proven a boon.

Still, hunters gather as always in blinds and hedgerows along grain fields and waterways, establishing techniques for morning hunting, evening hunting, and water versus land techniques. Whether the autumn or winter season, and whether early or late in either, can impact decoy spreads, calling, and flagging techniques.

And still, as traditional in the Chesapeake Bay as oysters at Christmas time there will be Canada geese out-figuring hunters and hunters adjusting to figure out Canada geese.

Till next time,

Cap’n Jack; [email protected]; 240-434-1385

To learn about tours and trips into the Chesapeake get more information on Fins + Claws’ Leader Member Page.

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