A Delta Waterfowl supporter shot a unique goose in Arkansas
By Paul Wait
As Kenny Jenkins and his three buddies settled in for an afternoon waterfowl hunt, they started with a prayer.
That wasn’t unusual for this party of hunters, Jenkins said. After all, the group included a deacon and a pastor, the Rev. Rusty Shuler.
“Pastor prayed for us, and he spoke about appreciating the day and good friends enjoying the hunt,” Jenkins recalled. “And then, he ended the prayer by asking God to specifically bless me with a band that day.”
The hunting proved to be excellent that mid-December afternoon on the property Jenkins owns near Lake Village, Arkansas. Each hunter collected a limit of mallards, with the final ducks splashing among the decoys just before closing time.
And oh yes, the group shot one bonus bird that day.
“We were on our way to limiting out on mallards when a pair of speckle-bellied geese came over,” Jenkins explained. “I switched out my No. 2s for BBs, and when I shot, one of the birds fell out dead.”
The goose was quickly retrieved, but no one paid it much attention as the fast-paced mallard shoot continued on.
“We didn’t even discover it was banded until much later, after the hunt was over,” Jenkins said.
When the specklebelly’s leg band finally came into focus, the hunters made another discovery.
“I noticed the band was really worn, almost to the point where it would have fallen off of the goose’s leg with much more wear,” Jenkins said. “We knew it was old because it was so worn.”
When Jenkins reported the band, he had to go through special verification measures.
The goose, which Jenkins shot on Dec. 13, 2017, had been banded on July 17, 1995, near Nonatokak River in Nunavut, Canada, as an adult. That means it hatched in 1994 or earlier, so it was at least 23½ years old.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s bird banding longevity records, the oldest known greater white-fronted goose (a.k.a. specklebelly) was 25½ years old. The next oldest record shown is 22 years, 4 months. So, it appears the goose Jenkins shot could be the second-oldest banded specklebelly on record.
The long-time Delta Waterfowl supporter and member from Haughton, Louisiana, said he didn’t know a goose could live for 25 years in the wild.
“We don’t pray for bands every time we go,” Jenkins joked. “It was one of those very special hunts that I won’t ever forget. It was icing on the cake that the goose was that old.”
Paul Wait is editor and publisher for Delta Waterfowl.