DEC fisheries explained that it is not unusual for fish to have such markings, especially as juveniles.
Anyone who has spent much time in the woods understands that nature is very fickle. In fact, it is quite often downright contrary.
Possibly, this is the true natural attraction, as an ever changing, environment is certainly much more interesting than a static state.
Over my years in the woods, I’ve stumbled across a wide collection of natural oddities. However, quite possibly the strangest incident I’ve ever witnessed occurred while bow hunting in the Southern Tier near Cobleskill.
I was sitting in a tree-stand on top of a long ridge that looms over Cobleskill Reservoir. The small pond is a popular stop over for Canada Geese during their migration south.
It was early bow season, and I was comfortably ensconced in a stand situated atop a long ridgeline locally known as Dow Hollow. The morning was crisp, the air still, and the woods were quiet.
Before a glint of sun was evident in the morning sky, the silence was shattered by a colophony of geese taking off from the waters below.
Peering through leaf bare oaks and towering white pines, I could make out a long dark mass of geese taking to the air; honking and barking on a southern journey.
As the great flock flew over the ridgeline, the big birds were barely clearing the treetops, and the noise resounded through the forest. The birds were flying over the ridgetop so low; I could hear their powerful wing beats.
Soon the birds were out of sight and the silence returned. I could hear the grey squirrels searching for acorns, otherwise the woods were still and quiet.
I listened intently while waiting intently for the telltale sound of whitetails returning up the ridge from the fields far below.
But there were none. The only sound was the chattering of my teeth, as I suffered through the long, cold lapse of time between first light, and a warm sun.There are no words to describe the agony of waiting for the warm morning sun to snake down from the treetops to your stand. Undeniably, it is the coldest part of the day, a slow misery.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.