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Band Tales: A Tense Situation

A dreamy band harvest turns into a nasty standoff.

Band Tales: A Tense Situation

The band reports we receive typically involve waterfowl banded and harvested in the U.S. and Canada, and occasionally Mexico. Every once in a while we get a report and a story from well off the regular flyways, like geese banded in Denmark and killed in the U.S., or like this one.

Whether it’s luck, his avidity for waterfowling or some combination of both, Ken Schopp seems to have a propensity for collecting bands. Last year he submitted five to us, including one perfectly suited for Band Tales involving a trip to Iceland.

It was a guided hunt he’d booked with his son, Charlie, that turned out to be quite an adventure. “We hunted three mornings for geese and one afternoon for seabirds: puffins, murres, guillemots and gulls,” Schopp noted. And the hunting was phenomenal. “The first morning my son and I bagged 80 greylag geese,” he said.

Those are big, tough, very difficult birds to kill. The second morning they again set up in a sheep pasture, using drainage ditches as blinds.

Before they settled in, they managed to bag five mallards and five Eurasian teal by simply kneeling beside a large puddle. Once the geese started flying, the hunters headed for the ditch. The shooting was so hot they didn’t even bother retrieving their birds until the end of the hunt when, as you probably guessed, they discovered one of the birds was banded with a metal and a plastic color band.

We’ve all heard horror stories of confrontations over banded birds but they typically involve interactions between hunters. In this case they both knew the banded bird was Ken’s so Schopp was completely taken off guard when his guide, Boggie, suddenly approached with a pair of pliers saying, “I need to take that.”

Schopp described the man as “Not the type of person you should trifle with, a tough Icelandic fisherman who had survived getting hit full in the face by a steel pulley that snapped off a cable.” None the less, Schopp stood his ground and replied, “You’re not taking this. I am keeping it.” The situation grew more tense when Boggie looked Schopp square in the eyes and said, “This does not make me happy,” to which Schopp countered, “Then you will be unhappy.”

An already bad situation could have gotten much worse had another guide, Siggi not interrupted and explained that Boggie’s close friend bands barnacle geese and he feared that Schopp would not report the band. With that established, Schopp allowed Boggie to photograph the bands, whereupon he report them directly from the field and learned they were indeed banded by his friend. “There was no tension after that,” Schopp related. “The rest of the hunt went smoothly. Boggie and Siggi are great guides and always did the right thing.”

The Band

  • Hunter: Ken Schopp, Sheffield, MA
  • Band #: Reykjavik 120882
  • Species: Barnacle Goose (F)
  • Banded: 07/18/2018
  • Location: Breidamerkusandur, Oraefi, A-Skaft.
  • Recovered: 09/28/2019
  • Location: Vidbordssel, Myrar, A-Skaft.

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