June 18, 2018
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Turkey decoys draw … eagles?

By John Holyoke, BDN Staff

When I asked readers to share their wild turkey tales, I figured we’d receive a few stories that wouldn’t fit neatly into the common “turkey hunt goes well” and “turkey hunt goes off the rails” categories.

I was right.

But I’ve got to say, I didn’t really expect the kind of story that reader Darrold Dorr of Franklin passed along. Even Dorr himself seemed a bit apologetic for submitting his interesting tale.

“I know this isn’t a turkey hunting experience but I hope this is usable for your column,” Dorr wrote.

I think it is. And after you read it, I suspect you might agree. Here’s what Dorr had to say in a recent e-mail:

“I have a pair of turkey decoys I leave in our field most of the summer and fall, using them as decoys for coyotes, and I usually [change] their location from time to time,” Dorr wrote. “Last week I happened to look out the window facing the field and noticed a large bird drop down to the area where the decoys were located.

“I waited for a couple of minutes to see when the bird would go airborne again but [there was] no bird to be seen as the decoys were out of sight. I had recently moved them to a position that was down a bank and out of my range of vision,” he wrote.

Curious, Dorr decided to walk over and try to get a better view of the large bird.

“I went over to the top of the rise and was startled to see an immature bald eagle sitting on one of the decoys,” he wrote. “After the eagle was able to take off I went down to right the decoy and found that the likely reason the eagle stayed with the decoy for that length of time was because its talons had pierced the vinyl of the decoy and the bird was momentarily stuck there.”

Dorr said the eagle’s visit wasn’t entirely unexpected: Other birds have stopped by for a closer look at what they think might be an easy meal, he said.

“I have even had a turkey vulture give them a close look to observe if they might be deceased,” Dorr wrote.

Thanks to Darrold for passing his tale along, and for helping to prove (again) that interesting outdoor stories don’t have to start, nor end, with “I shot,” or “I caught.”

Sometimes the ones that start “I saw” or “I learned” are just as much fun to read.

Salmon returns picking up

The Penobscot River is still running high and cool, and Atlantic salmon have begun showing up en masse at the fish trap in Veazie.

According to Oliver Cox, a fisheries biologist for the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ Bureau of Sea-Run Fisheries and Habitat, a whopping total of 76 salmon were trapped in a single day. In his most recent official report, issued on Wednesday, Cox said that brought the total of returning salmon to 265 since the trap was opened in early May.

And the run hasn’t slowed: As of Friday morning, the total had risen to 438 salmon, according to Cox.

In the official report that Cox issued on Wednesday, the biologist pointed out that a number of other species had also been documented at the trap. Among those: an American shad.

“The shad run is on!” Cox wrote in his report. “Well, that might be an overstatement, but one American shad was passed [through the trap] on Saturday.”

Cox said the shad was historically important: It represents 11 percent of the nine American shad that have been caught at the Veazie trap since 1978.

Among the other species that had been documented as of Wednesday’s report: two brook trout, three landlocked salmon, 1,725 river herring, 1,022 sea lamprey, 11 smallmouth bass and 149 white suckers.

Family fun on tap today

A final reminder: The Penobscot Conservation Association’s Outdoor Family Fun Day is taking place 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the club’s headquarters off North Main Street in Brewer.

There is no charge to participate in any of the activities; children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Food will be available for purchase.

A variety of outdoor-related activities are planned, including geocaching, fly fishing and fly tying, archery, air rifle instruction and rides in 28-foot canoes on the Penobscot.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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