Golf Course Geese
By Gary Lewis
I played a round of golf the other day with a golfing writer from Bend and he told me how excited he got when he shot his first birdie. “Me too,” I said. I let him tell his story first. I didn't tell him about my first birdie.
Throughout the game, I kept an eye on the birdies. The geese I mean. They waddled out of my way as I chipped out of the brush back out onto the fairway.
Ask a groundskeeper, golf courses and geese go together like a pitching wedge and a putter. Long fairways and luxuriant water features make great winter habitat for waterfowl winging their way south in November and December. Best of all, from the web-footed perspective, golf courses don't get a lot of hunting pressure.
But there isn't enough food on a golf course to keep a flock in business for long. About an hour after daybreak, groups of geese in twos, tens and twenties peel away from the main flocks to search out pea fields, winter wheat and cut-over barley stubble. Most of these smorgasbords are on private land, beyond city limits and the geese are as big a headache to the farmer as they are for the groundskeeper, though for different reasons.
On the course, excrement is the issue. But in the fields, a feeding flock can put a big divot in a planter's profits.
From Ontario to Astoria and the banks of the Willamette to the Umpqua and to the Rogue Valley, wherever there is golf, the geese will gather. Pattern the birds when they leave the courses on their morning and evening feeding flights, then talk to landowners beyond city limits. Close to town, the acreages may be small, but even a 10-acre hobby farm is not immune to a goose infestation.
Goose numbers are at all-time highs in many areas. Knock on a few doors. It won't take long to obtain permission on fields close to the fairways. Go out and shoot a birdie. Or a limit of birdies.