Thursday, 10 November 2011

Geese that can read!!

This is a funny but true story about goose shooting. 
'Moorga' our old fishing guide/shikari (hunter/tracker)/driver/jeep mechanic, may his soul rest in peace, told me loads of stories as a kid. These stories were filled with lots of sketches about 'the good old days'- when the lakes were grey with waterfowl, fish were as big as 'arms lengths' and deer were as numerous as 'cows on the streets'- as well as many tips and tricks that one only learns with experience. 
We all know about hunting waterfowl with decoys. Many of you might not know that if one doesnt have a decoy for geese, one can use newspaper, fold it into a pyramid shape, place it at the edge of a waterbody or a field where geese are expected and geese either land or come down to within few feet of it enabling the hunter to shoot them on the wings.
This, we kids knew. But 'moorga' had an even better tip for a novice; one that had taken him years to discover: One must use only english newspapers like Times of India, Indian express and not hindi (local language) newspapers else it wouldnt work. 
His explanation was 'simple'. Geese were from 'Vilayat' (hindi name for England, and pretty much the rest of the world for an uneducated person- in the past, the whole world was the British empire) and the reason they landed was to read the newspaper and as they were from 'Vilayat', they couldnt read hindi so wouldnt care to come near a hindi newspaper. 
Dramatic as it may sound, the bag was indeed very poor on shoots where hindi newspapers were used and he had years of experience to back up his theory. 
Now even my child-mind knew that: 
1 Geese cant read. 
2 'Vilayati' geese dont come to India but russian etc do. Vilayati go to southern parts of their respective longitudes. 
3 Geese dont land to 'read' but because the newspaper acts as a decoy. 
My child-mind resolved to investigate the cause of this perplexing phenomenon but most village/city shikaris/shooters vouched for the superiority of english-newspaper-decoys in bagging geese. 
Finally, after years of research I found that 40 years ago, the local hindi newspapers were printed on poor quality paper which was not white but yellow in colour. Whereas the English newspapers were printed on good quality white paper. Yellow paper with black print (resulted in muddy) was not as good as white paper (delhi printed english papers) with black print (resulted in grey) in mimicking the decoy effect.
And hence the better bag. 
With time the quality of paper used in local hindi newspapers improved and has been white as far as i can remember so it wasn't obvious to me and it took me many years to figure out the mystery. 
Moorga was an old man by then who spent his time fishing at the stream and telling more stories except that the fish and the bags had gotten bigger and I didnt have the heart to shake/ destroy his core beliefs about baiting the 'vilayati' geese with reading material.
He went to his grave secure in the knowledge that he had perfected the art of 'baiting' geese.

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