I was co-leading some teenagers on a multi-day canoe trip on the Delaware River through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area back in 1983. My co leader Margaret and I were in the same canoe one day. As we paddled down stream we noticed a bird flapping its wings mid air over the water a few yards from shore but going no where. As we got closer, we realized the Cooper's Hawk had become entangled on a fishing hook suspended from a fishing line hanging from a tree branch out over the river.

Margaret steadied the canoe as I stood up in it. I reached up as high as I could and pulled the line down as low as I could before cutting it about a foot above the hawk. Margaret then paddled over to shore where we climbed out onto the bank with the hawk, still hanging by its wing.

While I held the hawk by the line, Margaret emptied a small stuff sack and put the sack over the hawk's head. She then firmly cradled the bird in her hands and softly sang to it as I used my Swiss Army knife to carefully cut the three barbed hook and line from out of the crook of the Hawk's wing.

After I removed the hook, Margaret sat the hawk down on the bank and removed the stuff sack. The Hawk then stood up straight, puffed out its chest, and pulled back its wings as if enjoying its freedom. I don't remember how long it all took, but it seemed like a half hour or so.

We had no idea how long the hawk had been suspended mid-air over the river by its wing, nor do we know what eventually happened to this beautiful creature, but we both felt intense satisfaction for having freed it from its predicament. Thirty-seven years later, I still recall it as one of the most intense, transcendental wilderness encounters I have ever experienced.

aka "Boonerelli"

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