Roy Exum: Scooter’s Solution To Geese

Friday, August 16, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

My dog Scooter doesn’t like crows. When we sit on the back porch every morning at first light, I enjoy my coffee, my newspaper and a puff on my cigar while Scooter eats his handful of Milk Bones. It’s a great way to start the day and we go over our prayer list, tell a few jokes, and watch the clouds as they twist over the valley.

But about a year or so ago, a murder of crows –  a flock of particularly smart birds – discovered that Scooter is not a normal dog. He doesn’t do tricks or even behave for his morning treats; he gets a full handful every day just “because.” Sometimes he doesn’t eat them all and that’s when the crafty crows zoom down on the porch, wiping out whatever Scooter leaves behind.

Scooter is incensed, of course, because those are his biscuits and now when the crows show up Scooter isn’t shy about telling the birds to move along. As a matter of fact, he charges the trees where they patiently perch, laughing delightedly as they scramble for altitude and daring the big black birds to get close enough so he can launch his fierce attack.

The moral of this story is that Scooter has a perfect solution for the geese problem that has riddled Chattanooga State worse than Algebra II. All the geniuses who worry about the birds need to do is go to the McKamey Animal Center and adopt a couple of dogs. Just downstream, Girls Preparatory School had the same problem some years ago on its athletic fields and finally got a “goose dog” to scare the down feathers off any goose who dares to snack on some GPS grass.

Anytime you have an animal problem all you need to do is come up with a predator. Oh, the dog hardly ever catches the birds, but it’s just like junkyards have done in the South for years. Fear is a great cure. You leave a dog inside the fence and nobody will try to slink in and steal a taillight. There is something about a dog – the Chattanooga Police know this – that makes junkyard thieves and trespassing geese real nervous.

Up until now Scooter has handled our crow invaders real well. The fact I now pick up his uneaten Milk Bones and put them on Scooter’s bed inside the house is also a great deterrent, but the most effective method of all is the “crow trick” and people in the Deep South have used it for years. Sheep herders in Colorado and Montana use it to keep away coyotes and there is a real good reason you’ve seen farmers drape a dead rattlesnake across a fence. The other animals get the message.

My brother Kinch, after he had retired to central Florida, got a call from an elderly spinster who lived down the road and she told him a big murder of crows had started invading a huge tree behind her cistern and she asked if he had a .22 rifle. He kindly told the woman a 12-guage shotgun would be better, but the old lady laughed and told him to bring the small-bore gun and she’d teach him a trick about crows.

They were sitting on her back porch later that afternoon when here came the crows, about 50 of them seeing who could holler the loudest. The lady told Kinch to pick out one he could hit and my brother promptly fired, dropped one out of the tree. The rest of the crows flew away. The lady handed my brother a ball of twine and told him to hang the dead bird from a prominent limb, high enough that a wandering dog wouldn’t make sport of it but in clear view.

She then told my brother to come back the next afternoon, but that he wouldn’t need the gun. So the two were drinking iced tea when here came the birds again. They were silent and then began to cry in an awful way and mourn like screaming babies. My brother said it was the worst 20 minutes of squalling he ever heard. But this time when they left, those birds never, ever, returned.

Western farmers have found if they’ll shoot several coyotes and hang them strategically around the perimeters of their flocks of sheep, the rest of the coyotes learn very graphically those pastures are not a good place to be seen and soon will avoid the area like crazy. A dead snake hanging on a fence tells the other snakes to slither somewhere else or they too will be draped across barbed wire.

In order for Chattanooga State to embrace the “crow trick,” the powers-that-be need to come up with three or four geese that … um, die of natural causes because every tree-hugger from here to Gainesville will go bozo if they kill the birds to hang from trees. But the geese aren’t going to leave the ideal habitat on a written court order … gather all the eggs you like, but the birds will be back with out-of-town cousins in a heartbeat.

That is why my dog Scooter, now wise in the ways of thieving crows, believes if Chattanooga State would get a couple of dogs to sic on the offending birds for a while, the geese would soon get the message that they are about to get bit, and that their “fowl” droppings have no place in higher education. I can also tell you the McKamey dogs will love it because Scooter always acts a little jaunty once he disperses any bird who would dare steal his biscuits.

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