Forest oddities

Notes from the North Woods

 DEC fisheries explained that it is not unusual for fish to have such markings, especially as juveniles.

DEC fisheries explained that it is not unusual for fish to have such markings, especially as juveniles. Photo by Joe Hackett.

As I sat shivering in the stand, I heard a lone bark. It came from a short distance down the ridge. I heard it again, and after a prolonged rustling of leaves, it appeared to be getting closer.

The noise continued, and off to my right, I could barely make out the outline of something running along the forest floor. It was coming my way, and it was traveling fast.

Finally, I could see what appeared to be a large Canada goose. It was running and as just as it appeared to get airborne; a large turkey flew out of a nearby pine.

The turkey hit the goose from behind, square in the shoulders and knocked it to the ground. There were feathers everywhere, as the birds got back on their feet.

Before my eyes, the two birds faced off and a heavy weight fight broke out. While the turkey puffed its chest, gobbled and displayed its impressive fan.

Across the leave littered ring, the goose stretched out its neck, lowered its head, and hissed like a mad cobra.

The turkey continued the attack, and soon it chased the goose over the ridge and out of sight. However, I heard the battle continue for quite some time.

After waiting for the whitetails that never showed up, I got out of my stand and followed a trail of feathers down the ridge. However, there was no sign of either the victor or the vanquished.

Later, after relating the battle to an old birding friend, he surmised the goose likely clipped a wing on a treetop and fell to the ground.

“Geese,” he explained, “need a lot of room to get airborne.” And without a clear runway in the thick woods, it would be difficult to take off.

Compounding the matter, turkeys are notoriously territorial. He surmised that the big tom likely saw the comparably sized goose as a threat, and attacked it.

Although I’ve seen many unusual sights in the woods, the combination of two heavyweights going at it in a natural ring, in the early morning light, has always struck me as the most exciting and unusual of all.

However, I am always interested in learning of other such incidents, and if you’ve got a story; I’d be happy to hear it.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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