Ventura Hunter Bags Rare Goose

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Acclaimed naturalist Aldo Lepold once stated that "to band a bird is to hold a ticket in a great lottery."

Last Saturday, Ventura's Kevin Olson won the bird band lottery.

Olson is the owner of Big Marsh Taxidermy, located near the south edge of Ventura Marsh. While working in his studio last weekend, Olson was interrupted by the shrill sound of migrating snow geese. Not just your average number of birds, mind you, but so many geese that the flock's combined honking could only be described as a " loud roar." Rushing outside, Olson observed waves of geese flying in all directions. As he watched, several hundred of the noisy birds began landing in an adjacent cornfield.

With the [snow goose] season currently open, the sight was irresistible. It was time to go hunting.

"I didn't know how long those geese would be feeding, but I thought it would be worth a try," said Olson. "I ended up walking to the edge of some tall grass near where the geese had been landing. I just sat there and hoped some would fly my way."

The hunt was quickly aided by a strange turn of events when an adult bald eagle appeared from the east. The giant raptor soared across the marsh to where several hundred geese were still assembled on the ice. Eagles routinely eat lesser snow geese, and the waterfowl lost no time becoming airborne. As the huge flock divided, a group of around 400 geese headed straight toward Olson's position.

"The geese had been pouring into that cornfield, and now this flock looked as if it might head right to me," said Olson. "When they came over the top, I picked out one goose and was amazed to see that it had a yellow collar on its neck. I was already excited, and seeing the collar just added to it. I thought to myself -- You just can't miss this one."

Olson took careful aim, fired, and much to his horror, he did miss. Maintaining his cool, he stayed with the bird and followed through. The goose folded on the second shot.

"The hunt was short, but definitely exciting," grinned Olson. "For me, this is a real trophy. I've always wanted to bag a collared snow geese and now I have."

But the drama isn't over yet. Olson has notified officials with the United States Migratory Bird Banding Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and is now anxiously waiting to learn when and where his trophy snow goose was banded.