My Stolen Bluebill

We were having a slow day already. Then a thief took one of our ducks.

Last Friday the NRA holiday party ended at 1 p.m. By 3 p.m. two coworkers and I were in a duck blind. About an hour into the hunt a ball of bluebills swung downwind and—as bluebills are apt to do—they barreled straight into the decoys. We came up swinging but shot poorly, dropping only two ducks.

One of the ducks was winged down a long ways off and my buddy wisely gave his young Lab a line toward that bird first. The drake dove on Dixie a few times, but she hung with it. That is, until a bald eagle showed up and began competing with her for the duck, repeatedly dive bombing it.

I've heard of grizzlies supposedly learning that gunfire equates to an easy meal of caribou or moose, but I've never known eagles to associate shotgun blasts with fresh duck. Still, as the eagle seized our duck in its talons on the third try and flew off with it like so many trout, the act looked awfully routine. While living in a heavily hunted public area, could the eagle have learned the game? Had it discovered that it can fly faster than Labs can swim? All I know is, I'm not angry the eagle took the duck. Watching that immense bird of prey fly off with a full-grown bluebill while my buddy called back his very confused Lab was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced.

In other news, I'm about to leave for Lincoln, Neb., for a couple days of duck and deer hunting. I'll also be touring Hornady's factory in Grand Island. Assuming I make it there (have you seen the weather report?), I'll be providing updates via my Twitter page. Stay tuned.

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