By: Randy Tucker
Rocky Mountain Power had a company policy of leaving power poles on rural property when they put in a new power line. I was home on Christmas break from the University of Wyoming and the power company had laid a new line across a half-mile of my mom and dad’s farm in Fremont County.
The 34-foot poles were pulled and dropped inside the fence line on our property, ready to be picked up and used as corral poles, cut into fence posts, or burned as firewood in a shop stove depending on their condition.
A 34-foot power pole is heavy, over 300 pounds, but I was 21 and in the midst of the period of my life I often refer to as a size 50 chest, size 2 hat. Nothing fazed me. I grabbed the business end of each pole (read that as the wider base) and let my dad lift the lighter upper end.
We were pulling a pipe trailer behind his 1978 GMC ¾ ton pickup that late afternoon and the poles fit neatly on the open trailer designed to hold 30-foot sections of aluminum irrigation pipe.
I enjoyed coming home to work with my dad, and the crisp afternoon weather soon disappeared with the hard work of loading those heavy poles. We’d loaded about a dozen when something caught my eye in the sky to the east.
There was a goose flying our way, but it didn’t look like any I’d seen before.
The large Canada goose got closer, and I noticed its wings were locked and it wasn’t moving. The bird glided towards us and hit the ground a few feet away from me. I picked up the big bird and noticed a pattern of blood spots on its neck and head. It had been shot.
We’d heard the distant boom of shotgun blasts through the afternoon as we worked. They came from Ocean Lake, an agricultural reservoir a mile east of my dad’s place. This was a goose that someone shot that had died in flight and was gliding in on the forces of aerodynamics to land by us.
We threw it in the truck. I plucked it later, singed the pin feathers, and roasted it with apples and onions a few days later. Free goose, what the heck?
Jump ahead half a lifetime and I’m hunting with my son and son-in-law on a friend’s farm 20 miles north of our own small operation. Gordon Maxson was a renowned potato farmer but had put in corn in one of his fields and had given us permission to hunt.
His only request was that we not shoot his cows, and not shoot towards his aluminum center-pivot irrigation system.
We took position in an irrigation ditch a few dozen yards from an array of Canadian goose decoys, with a few Mallard drakes mixed in for authenticity. The geese came in and I hit one with my 12-gauge Remington 870.
I watched in amazement as the feathers flew, and it locked its wings. The bird glided another 200 yards and hit one of Gordon’s aluminum irrigation pipes with a resounding, clanking thud. History repeated itself 30 years later.
Randy Tucker is a retired history teacher and freelance writer from western Wyoming. He has a lifetime of experience in farming, ranching, hunting, and fishing in the shadow of the Wind River Mountains. Contact him at [email protected].