Last call for hooters

Went hooter hunting for the last time this year today, while Ron fished for king salmon below.  A dry, beautiful day on Admiralty Island.  I got 2 birds, in somewhat unusual fashion.  The first one was on fairly level ground, in a high tree, and sitting up near the top of the tree.  These are the most difficult to see, since you can’t climb uphill of the tree to get a better view, and the trees around the tree the hooter is in hampers viewing from below.  I looked and looked.  Then the bird just flew out of the tree down to the ground about 20 yards away.  I slowly walked over to near where I thought it landed, crouched and bobbed up and down, trying to see the bird.  I took a few more steps, and looked again.  I thought maybe the bird had trotted away.  A few more steps, and there he was on a hummock ten yards away. 

The next bird was further up the hill.  This bird was really able to throw his voice.  I went by where I thought the bird was by about 20 yards.  When he hooted again, I back tracked.  He hooted again, and it seemed I’d gone to far, and also seemed like the bird had mysteriously moved.  I waited for quite awhile for the next hoot, wondering if this was another bird like last week that was actually on the ground, and might have moved off.  Finally, he hooted and I was sure he was up in the tree I was under.  This tree was on the slope, so I climbed up and finally saw his head clearly.  I cocked the single shot 12 gauge and fired.  I must have missed, as the bird flew, but glided to a very low branch about 10 yards from me.  I slowly walked to where I’d seen it last, and there he was on the branch about 10 feet off the ground in plain sight.  I reloaded, and got my second bird.

I started cross-hilling and slowly heading for the beach, as I had to be out at noon to get back to town to man a booth for the Juneau Watershed Partnership for Juneau’s Maritime Festival today.  I hoped to hear some birds parallel to me or lower down the hill, but the only birds hooting were up at the base of the ridge.  I did move a deer well in front of me in the pucker brush, but did not hear any more birds on my way down.

The skunk cabbage was now if full bloom, apparently recovering from the early season grazing by hungry deer who now must have new growth from other plants to eat.  The blueberry bushes were budding out and getting ready to blossom, although up till today it’s been a chilly May.

Mark Stopha
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK  99801

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