|Hawk after we removed the hook|
Monday, March 16, 2020
Wild Encounter with a Cooper's Hawk
The wildest encounter I have ever had with an animal in the outdoors occurred during a canoe trip down the Delaware River in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area back in the summer of 1983. My co-leader Margaret and were guiding adolescent summer campers on a combined canoe/backpacking that was taking us down the Delaware River and would take us northward on the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey.
One day Margaret and I were in the same canoe. I do not recall who was in the bow and who was in the stern. As we paddled downstream, one of us noticed what appeared to be a bird flapping its wings midair several feet over the water and a few yards from shore but going nowhere. paddling closer, we realized the bird, a Cooper's Hawk, had become entangled on a fishing hook suspended from a fishing line hanging from a tree branch out over the river.
Margaret steadied the canoe as I stood up in it. I reached up as high as I could and grabbed the line. I then pulled it down as low as I could, passing over the tangled bird until I could reach the line above it. Using my Swiss Army knife, I cut the line about a foot above the hawk and sat back down in the canoe while I was holding the fowl by the line. Margaret paddled over to shore where we both climbed out onto the New Jersey bank with me still holding the hawk, suspended by its wing, the fishing line still in my hand.