Fancy that – I went fishing a few days back. It probably wasn’t the best time to be out (on a weekday), but a close friend needed a day off and I obliged, lack of arm twisting notwithstanding. The fishing wasn’t particularly good either. The temperature started at about twenty and climbed no higher than sixty; it was extremely clear, the flows were a bit low for throwing streamers, and the wind was howling. We saw a few fish and got several blatant follows. I managed only one hookup, and that was on the third cast to a fish that I wound up having to bonk directly on his head to make him chase. By the time I picked up this little brown I was shaking, but not because of the fish – I was in fact still a bit paranoid after the events of earlier in the day.
I’ve witnessed some natural wonders on the river, particularly as of late, but getting dive bombed by a hawk armed with a dying duck surely takes the cake. Yes, you heard me right – attacked! Uh, maybe.
At about 10:00 am I was standing on this bank in front of a sharp bend. I’m generally minding my own business, casting my ugly big streamers, when all of a sudden I hear this loud ‘whoosh whoosh whoosh’ from behind me, kind of like helicopter blades as the turbine is just cranking up. I turn around, look up, and see this hawk coming right down at me – it has a roughly four foot wingspan and it’s no more than fifteen to twenty feet from me and closing in fast. This hawk has a big duck in its talons (which as you can imagine is thrashing about wildly) and it was apparent losing altitude as a result. I drop my rod and scramble to the ground and towards the bird, hoping to get behind it as it descends. Milliseconds later the hawk drops said duck right where I was previously standing and takes off nearly straight up. The duck hits with a tremendous thud and scurries into the water – by the time it paddles its way to the far bank it must have had a coronary (since it immediately turned upside down i.e. like dead).
I sat there for what seemed like eternity watching that duck drift upside down along the bank while the hawk circled ever higher above, trying to grasp the meaning of the event. Was the hawk using the duck as a weapon against me in retaliation for treading on its turf (and fish)? Or was it really a peace offering bequeathed in thanks for releasing oh so many of its potential meals. Then again, maybe the bird of prey was just hungry and had proverbially bitten off more than it could chew (or at least carry while staying aloft).
Hours later we spotted that duck floating lifelessly in a quiet pool. I thought its end unfitting – it was a beautiful duck. I might have felt a little better had the hawk gone back after it, and closed the circle of life. Probably not a complete waste however – I suspect the crayfish would be eating well that evening.
Still, I returned home and immediately began shopping for hardhats.