December 03, 2021
Matthew LaTulip, Jr. represents the fourth generation of a duck hunting family, so it was not surprising that he chose a sea duck hunt at Cold Bay, Alaska as his high school graduation present. “At that time, the world was normal, and we were really looking forward to traveling up to Alaska in November 2020,” said his dad, Matthew LaTulip, Sr. We all know what happened next.
“It was touch and go, with cancellations looming all over, including St. Paul Island, due to the Covid scare,” LaTulip continued. “Fortunately, we were able to jump through all the testing hoops to make the journey.” It turned out to be a special trip, for several reasons. “We were able to procure trophy harlequins, Pacific eiders, and scoter slams,” said LaTulip, but the biggest surprise came from the very first bird harvested.
After clearing all the protocol, making the lengthy journey and heading out on the bay, the LaTulips were set up and ready when the first birds winged into their spread. First shot was bestowed on the young hunter, and he obliged by folding a drake long-tailed duck. Sure enough, when the bird was recovered, they discovered it bore a band.
That, in and of itself was a delightful surprise, but there was more to the story. After reporting the band, the duck hunting LaTulips learned the bird was banded in 2004 and reported to have hatched in 2003 or earlier, making it at least 17 years old. Upon further investigation they discovered the bird, which may well have been as old as the hunter, is the oldest on record at the USGS Bird Banding Lab. That’s quite a graduation present in a very unusual season.
HUNTER: Matthew LaTulip, Jr.
BAND #: 0966-56729
SPECIES: Long-tailed Duck (D)
LOCATION: 93 KM E Deadhorse, AK
LOCATION: 10 mi E of Cold Bay, AK