The Wild Goose Hideout
by Jennie L. Deitz
In an undisclosed location on the Western Shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, hundreds of Canada geese quietly grazed in a harvested field. The surrounding leaf-thin trees and shrubs revealed the winged visitors only to those with the most curious of eyes.
“They’re back!” I thought to myself as I drove by their secret lair. The birds are better hidden than last year when they flocked to nearby open fields.
I first noticed this short-term migration while on my way to visit St. Michaels’ specialty stores late last fall. As I left my home on the Western Shore, I passed a local field overflowing with hundreds of Canada geese. I naïvely wondered what had drawn them in such large numbers. It was highly unusual because my area doesn’t have a residential goose population. Since it was late fall, the migration south should have already taken place. Were these geese stragglers making their way along the Atlantic Flyway?
As I headed down Route 50 on the Eastern Shore, I noticed that the fields were all deserted. Not a goose to be had anywhere. The Eastern Shore’s resident goose population had been a steadfast fixture in the landscape during my many trips to Ocean City. I smiled when I realized their little secret. These Eastern Shore homesteaders were waiting out the late waterfowl hunting season across the Bay until the heat was off and they could once again return safely home.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not against hunting. I’ve even cooked a Christmas goose or two. As a daughter of a forester, I grew up understanding resource management and the necessity of thinning the flock. Canada geese usually forage in large numbers, causing substantial physical and economic damage to both agriculture crops and residential property. Many problems stem from goose droppings near open water and trampled vegetation in urban areas.
But you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. While those waterfowl hunters are shivering in their expertly camouflaged blinds on the backwaters of the Chesapeake Bay, hundreds of Eastern Shore escapees are keeping a low profile on the Western Shore.
Their secret location is safe with me. I’m no stool pigeon.
Jennie Deitz hones her writing with the BayHill Critique Group in Chesapeake Beach.
Editor’s Note: The second half of wild goose hunting season runs from December 17 to January 28.