In battle for bands, hunter gets a big boost

Friday, November 29, 2002

DELTA, Mo. -- With a single shot, David Parker tripled a collection that, among duck hunters, carries more weight than a mantle full of Grammy Awards.

Parker's prize, besides the mallard drake duck, were two small bands wrapped around the duck's legs. One was a tracking band with a nine-digit code, the other a reward band worth $100. Both were placed by wildlife officials in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

The two together bring Parker's collection to three.

"To a duck hunter, it's like collecting baseball cards," said Parker, 32, of Delta, Mo. "Some people will get two or three a year. It looks good to other hunters."

Parker, hunting alongside his father, Ronald Parker of Crump, Mo., made the shot on leased property near the Duck Creek Wildlife Refuge. It was the highlight among David Parker's 10 ducks killed in the season that began Nov. 2 and continues through Dec. 31.

"My dad's the one who actually encouraged me to go after it," he said. "It landed to the right of us, and Dad said I might as well go over, jump it up and take a shot."

When the duck landed, Parker discovered the bands. The tracking band was attached Aug. 23 and indicated the bird was between 2 and 4 years old.

Both styles of bands, according to wildlife officials, are designed to help track a species' movement, its life-span, annual production and cause of death. Once the information is phoned in to a number indicated on the band, the band itself often is kept as a souvenir by the hunter. About 300,000 ducks are banded every year in North America. About 25,000 are recovered.

They can add up to a huge collection for a frequent or experienced hunter.

"Guys who have been hunting years and years usually have quite a few of them," said Rodney Huffman of Foutz's Hunting & Fishing Shop in Cape Girardeau. "Most hunters will take them off the duck and put them on their lanyard with their call. It's a trophy. You see some guys with dozens of them."

Finding two bands on a single duck is a rare prize. Ducks aren't often banded twice.

"This one will get mounted and kept in the house," Parker said. "The first band I got actually originated from Duck Creek, so that duck didn't get very far at all before I got it. This one has a better story behind it."

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