© 2011 Aaron Atkinson

Birdy Bling

The ultimate prize for most bird hunters is shooting a bird with a band. For decades the Department of Natural Resources has banded migratory birds like ducks, geese and doves to track migration patterns, lifespans and hunter harvests. After shooting a banded bird a hunter is supposed to call in and report the information, closing the loop on the process.

One of the first geese I shot was banded. The fellow that I was hunting with was incredibly excited about it, so I gave it to him. He hugged me for it.

A couple of years ago, I shot a dove with a tiny silver leg band. There was a family sharing the field with me and on their way out the Dad lingered behind the kids and made his way over to me.

Dad: Have you shot any with bands on them?

Me: Yep. I think one is banded.

Dad: I’ve been bringing my kids out here for the past five years and we’ve never shot a banded bird. My daughter is 13 and I think it would make her day if she thought she’d shot one with a band. Any chance I could buy that bird off of you?

Me: No. I won’t sell it to you, but I’d be more than happy to give it to you.

His face lit up with an ear to ear grin. He set his shotgun on the ground and shook my hand in both of his.

I handed him the prized bird, showing him the silver band around the coral colored leg.

He looked me in the eye and flashed another smile.

Dad: Thank you, son.

Like I said, it’s the ultimate prize for most bird hunters.

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