Bands capture the imagination of waterfowl hunters across North America. And shooting a banded bird always adds a dose of excitement to a hunt. When DU TV host Field Hudnall and the film crew headed to Maine last week to film a sea duck hunt, the cameras captured a unique and fascinating band story.
"One bird that has been on my bucket list a long time is the eider," said Field. He was hunting on the Maine coast with DU Regional Director Bill Brown and Brad Allen, a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. "Brad was filling the down time with lots of great information about the eiders, their life cycle, eating habits, migration routes, and anything else you could ever want to know. The more questions he answered for me the more I wanted to see and get my hands on one of these birds."
When the first group of eiders buzzed the decoys, Field picked out a drake and dropped him. The tender boat headed to retrieve the bird and radioed back to the hunters, asking who had shot the drake. Field said: "There is only one reason a person retrieving a bird would need to distinguish who shot a specific bird." Field's first-ever eider was banded. "All I could say was 'no way...seriously! This is not possible!'"
"Only half the numbers on the band were legible. Brad asked me what the first series of numbers were. I read them off, and he said: 'that's my bird.'" Brad had banded the eider in 2006, explaining that he handled most of the banding in the area and that was the number series he used. "I told Brad I think I should go buy a lottery ticket. What are the chances of going on your very first eider hunt, taking the very first eider you shoot, it's banded, and you are hunting with the guy who had held this bird in his hands almost 9 years ago. The bird had traveled all over the Maine coast and the Atlantic Ocean. Its journey ended with the same man that sent him on his way with that little piece of metal around his leg. You can't make this stuff up."
To see Field's eider adventure, watch the 2016 season of DU TV, which will begin in July on the Pursuit Channel and at ducks.org/dutv.