September 10, 2020
By Bob Humphrey
Some of our Band Tales involve waterfowl that have made unusual journeys or lived exceptionally long lives. Others relate the extraordinary circumstances under which the band was obtained. This is one such story.
Jaqueline Pennington’s first waterfowl hunts were as an observer. “My uncle Scott and his son Sean are avid waterfowlers,” she began. “After they got my dad hooked, I also became interested. I took a hunter safety course, my dad bought me a gun and my uncle set me up with the gear I would need. I went on two hunts with my uncle and cousin as an observer, to get a sense of what it was like and to find out if this was really something that was for me.” That was enough to convince her it was. The next outing would be for real.
It was a Saturday in early November when she and her dad piled in the truck with her uncle and cousin and headed off in the dark. Upon arriving, the hunters split into pairs, each setting up on different ponds. “The temperature overnight had dropped below freezing and we had to break ice to create a hole for the decoys,” Pennington recalled.
The action was slow at first, but picked up quickly when, about an hour into the hunt, Pennington’s father shot a double. “One duck fell far out on the ice and the other came down practically at his feet,” said Pennington. “After a minute or two, the bird suddenly got up and started running away so he left to try and catch it.”
That left Pennington alone on her very first real hunt, and no sooner had her dad left when a pair of mallards came circling over the pond. “The slight bit of hesitation and nervousness lasted only a second before I got up and fired one shot, dropping one bird.” At the end of the morning, her cousin waded out, breaking the ice to get to my duck. He later told Pennington as he was approaching it, he thought “wouldn’t that be crazy if it was banded?” It was, and he brought it back, held it up, and asked her, “Notice anything special?”
While the bird’s backstory was rather unremarkable, having been banded just a few miles away, the hunter’s was indeed special. “That day was my first true hunt, first shot, first duck, and first band. It was an awesome, memorable day for the four of us and I’m glad to have been exposed to this sport and to be able to enjoy doing it with my family.”
- Hunter: Jacqueline Pennington, Livonia, MI
- Band #: 2087-13576
- Species: Mallard (H)
- Banded: 08/29/2017
- Location: Howell, MI
- Recovered: 11/09/2019
- Location: near Howell, MI