by Bret Amundson
Last night I was fishing on Gull Lake when a young loon surfaced right next to our boat. Since I’m a better photographer than fisherman (and I’m a hack photog), I quickly dropped my rod and reel and started snapping pictures.
To our surprise, this young loon came very close to the boat. I’ve had mature loons get pretty close, but at one point I thought he was going to climb aboard. Soon one of the parents was nearby, but didn’t draw him away. The two circled the boat for at least 20 minutes.
What I first attributed to youthful curiosity might be better described as a family dog sitting patiently next to the dinner table waiting for scraps.
We watched as these loons went from boat to boat-possibly for an easy meal? Could these loons have been conditioned to human interaction due to some minnow hand-outs?
While it’s a neat experience to get a bird or animal in close by feeding it, (and I’ve been guilty of it before too) it’s generally considered bad practice as it keeps wildlife from keeping survival skills sharp and potentially putting itself in harm’s way while getting to close to humans. It can be dangerous for the human as well.
These loons also kept chasing our bass jigs and coming very close to getting hooked.
Besides that, this was a really cool experience!
Here is the rest of the feeding sequence: