One Time I Punched A Goose Right Out Of The Air

David Yarnold
President Of The Audubon Society

I’ve spent my whole adult life promoting species diversity and protecting birds. In my current capacity as president and CEO of the Audubon Society, I work tirelessly to raise awareness of the habitat destruction that threatens these incredible, beautiful creatures. I love birds. I love all birds. But I’m not going to pretend this incident in my past didn’t happen, and I’m not going to try to defend my actions, either. Yes, I did it—I’m not proud of it, but I did it:

One time, a couple years ago, I punched a goose. Punched it right out of the air.


I still don’t know what came over me. Birds obviously mean the world to me, so decking a goose in mid-flight was completely out of character. It hasn’t happened since, and I certainly don’t think it ever will again. I don’t want to say it definitely won’t, because I really never thought I’d do it in the first place. It was purely an instinctive reaction. I turned around and all I could see was this big, beady-eyed bastard honking like a lunatic and pumping away right toward me, and then bam! Next thing I know, feathers are flying everywhere, I hear a meek, muffled honk, and this stunned Canada goose is lying at my feet.

God knows there are plenty of fucking Canada geese out there. It’s not like I punched a giant ibis or a dusky starfrontlet or some other critically endangered bird.

Just to be totally clear, I didn’t kill it or anything, and thank God for that. I don’t know if I could live with myself if I took the life of a creature I am sworn to protect. After the rush of adrenaline wore off, I set the goose upright, and it toddled away. I’m sure it probably wasn’t 100 percent for a couple days after finding itself on the business end of an ol’ Yarnold haymaker, but other than being dazed, it didn’t seem much worse for wear.

That said, I did pop him one pretty good. I wound up from the shoulder and fully rotated through my hips—pow! My fist plowed into that fucker, dead-center beak. And it just dropped. Looked like a crumpled-up paper bag lying there on the ground.


I would like to point out that I didn’t just go out into the woods and start punching wild geese, or show up at a farm and start pounding away on the domestic variety. I wasn’t looking for a fight; I was just walking through a park near my house and minding my own business when all of a sudden this big fucking goon flew right up in my face.

Okay, yes, maybe it was a couple feet above my head and I had to jump up a little to connect with my fist. And yeah, when this guy walking by saw me punch the goose and was like, “Holy shit! That was amazing,” maybe I said, “I know, right? Fuckin’ boom! Right out of the air!” But again, it was reflexes, pure and simple.


After that, I held myself back. I could have finished off that big ol’ son of a bitch right there with a quick boot to the sternum, but I restrained myself. I showed that goose mercy because I love birds.

And if you share this love for our precious avian friends, I urge you to join your local Audubon chapter today. You’ll meet fellow birdwatchers, receive a subscription to our award-winning magazine, and help support bird sanctuaries all across America.


Now, look, in a lot of ways, I don’t even know why I’m telling you this story at all. So I punched a goose! A goddamn Canada goose! My track record is still nearly flawless—I think my work with the pied-billed grebe, the black-throated loon, and countless other species of waterfowl speaks for itself. And God knows there are plenty of fucking Canada geese out there. It’s not like I punched a giant ibis or a dusky starfrontlet or some other critically endangered bird.

If I somehow managed to house a dusky starfrontlet right out of the air, I wouldn’t even be apologizing. That would be superhuman.


Quick sidebar: I just want you to consider the kind of razor-sharp instincts it requires to punch a bird on the wing out of the sky. For just one minute, don’t attach notions of right and wrong to the scenario I’m describing, and think about it purely from a physical-prowess perspective. Just knowing you can do that—it’s, like, a once-in-a-lifetime thing, right?

Anyway, what I’d like to get across here is that I don’t want to be vilified for this one transgression. Belting a goose right out of the air on a single occasion—an incredible feat of athleticism, as we’ve established—does not invalidate my lifelong commitment to environmental causes. Outside of this one unfortunate, if very impressive, act I have never done anything to harm a living creature.


Except for puffins. I punt those goofy, chubby little fuckers across the landscape any chance I get.

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