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Trust your instincts.

JOHN STROH. A HISTORY TEACHER AT CALIFORNIA'S School, began hunting waterfowl nearly a quarter century ago.

"Ever since, I have been fascinated by waterfowl and passionate about the birds I pursue," he said.

Stroll has been fortunate enough to collect 16 bands. None, however, are as special as the one he got in January. Stroh had little reason to expect anything out of the ordinary heading into his late-season hunt. The 2008-2009 season had been the driest of his waterfowling tenure, in terms of both water and number of birds.

"The weather forecast called for overcast skies and I had absolutely no expectations for the following day," he said.

Stroh made arrangements to meet a friend, Ryan Sherman, at his lease.

"I hated to give him the bad news, as our schedules seldom allow us to hunt together," Stroh said. "I told him, 'It's been very slow. I could use the company in the blind, but it will more than likely be just an outing.'"

But the birds were in. By 10 a.m., die hunters had a mixed bag of seven ducks. Sherman left to meet a business client in Lodi, Calif. After already experiencing Iris best day of the season. Stroh considered packing it in and heading for home.

"I called my wife, Nora, and she encouraged me to stay another night. My instincts told me that new birds had arrived, and after a quick lunch, I was back in the sunken four-man tank."

An increasing north wind pushed off the fog, revealing a striking backdrop of the Sierra Nevadas, the Coastal Range and Sutter Buttes. And birds were on the wing.

"Pintails were everywhere, and I knew it was not a matter of if, hut when," Stroh said.

He waited for the perfect opportunity, pulled up, and with one shot, managed to do the unthinkable.

"I sailed a 25-yard sitter," he lamented.

Stroh and his dog, Bramble, watched as the bird glided into a section office fields 700 yards to the north. Bramble immediately went into action and made an absolutely fantastic retrieve.

While praising his dog, Stroh noticed a glint of silver. But it wasn't until later, when he called another friend to report his good fortune, that Stroh read the band's inscription: Inform, Kankoyosho Tokyo Japan.

Stroh called the U.S. bird-banding lab and was informed they have no database for international birds. Three phone calls and several e-mails later, he still had no answers. Curiosity led him to the Interact, where he found the Web site of the Tokyo Bird Banding Foundation. He e-mailed the data, and subsequently received the banding information. The bird had been handed on a lake near Tokyo, Japan, 5,000 miles from Lodi, Calif., as the duck flies.

"For all of us who are passionate about ducks, that little inexpensive piece of aluminum still holds a special fascination that gives us a glimpse of how these magnificent birds five," Stroh said. "It is a matter of luck, and perhaps the powers that be were shining on me that day."


The Band

HUNTER: John Stroh, Lodi, CA

BAND #: 10B29168

SPECIES: Pintail (D)

BANDED: 2/22/2008

LOCATION: Hyoko Lake, Suibara, Agano, Niigata pref., JAPAN

RECOVERED: 1/2/2009

LOCATION: 30 miles north of Sacramento, CA

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Title Annotation:Band Tales: An Expanded Tale From One Of Our Loyal Readers; waterfowling
Author:Humphrey, Bob
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Jun 1, 2009
Previous Article:2008-2009 season.
Next Article:Springing a leak.

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