Attack of the Killer Hawk – Appalachian Trail, Maryland

Attack of the Killer Hawk
Appalachian Trail, Maryland

It all started when I was up about halfway through the Appalachian trail, a 2,000 mile trail that runs from Georgia to Main. I had just crossed into Maryland; maybe about 10 minutes in, walking down the trail, minding my own business when I started to hear a strange squawking. I looked around to see if I could spot it in the woods, I didn’t see anything. It seemed to be getting louder. And louder. I thought it must be behind me, and as soon as I turned my head, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this giant brown thing swoop down from above me. It startled the crap out of me, so I instantly did a 180, and found standing on the ground a giant hawk.

We both stared into each other’s eyes. I’d never seen a hawk this close before. Actually, I wasn’t even sure if it was a hawk, or an eagle, or some other kind of bird. All I knew was that it was huge. It all of the sudden started squawking like there was no tomorrow, then the stupid thing started running after me, on the ground. I honestly didn’t know what to do, so I started running away.

A few seconds later, I thought, “Wait a minute, why am I running? I’m bigger than this thing is.” I stopped and turned around, the hawk was still running for me, so I pointed my walking stick at it. Instantly it stopped. Again we stared at each other for a few seconds. I began to think there must be a nest somewhere near by. Then I thought to myself, “YOU IDIOT! Get some photos before it flies off or something.”

Slowly took my backpack off and set it on the ground. Unzipping the side pocket, I got my camera out. Then I realised the roll was full. Great. I was sure the bird would fly off before I could get any pictures, but I unloaded the film anyway. The bird stayed put.

As I started to load a new roll in the camera, out of the corner of my eye I saw the bird going towards my backpack. I stopped everything, and I saw it was going for my sunglasses that were attached to the outside of my pack. Before it could get to them I shook my walking stick at the overgrown bird, and again it stopped. I waited a few seconds, it didn’t move, so I continued to finish loading my camera.

Just as I started to wind up the film, once again out of the corner of my eye, I saw that stupid thing go for my backpack again. However, this time I was too slow. Before I could do anything, it snatched my bandanna off the pack, quickly turned around, and was getting ready to make its flying escape. With lightning quick reflexes, I jabbed the end of my walking stick into a corner of the bandanna. The hawk franticly tried to fly off with its talons securely fastened to my faded sweatband.

After a few seconds, it realised it couldn’t escape, so it stopped trying to fly. Instead, it got on top of the bandanna, and started spreading its wings over it like it birds do when they have their prey and they don’t want any other birds to have any. The bird then proceded to start shredding it up with its beak.

I was really getting frustrated. If this thing dragged on any longer, I probably wouldn’t get to the next shelter before dark. Not only that, this would be the SECOND bandanna I had lost to a member of the Animal Kingdom in the last two weeks.

I decided I wasn’t going to give up. I wasn’t going to hurt it, since I didn’t know the rules against harming hawks. I started yelling for some help, hoping that maybe a hiker was somewhere near that could be of assistance. I gave up on that quickly. Then I started yelling at the hawk, hoping to maybe scare it off or something. That didn’t work either. I did, however, get some great pictures.

After about a 13-15 minute stand off, the hawk just decided to let go of the bandanna and get off. It stood there next to the trail, staring at me. A couple more minutes went by and the bird didn’t move. I didn’t move either, then I started remembering about the shelter. I slowly packed up my things and started walking off. I turned around about 50 feet down the trail, and saw that the bird was still standing there watching me.

Then I had a great idea. What if I could get this hawk to come with me; it could be my trail pet or something. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to fool with it, so I walked away. About half a mile down the trail I came to a shelter that I stopped at to get some water. There were a group of hikers there taking a break so I asked if any of them had come across a deranged hawk. They all looked at me funny, then started telling me how it attacked one of the hiker’s sock. We talked for a short while, decided that it must have had a nest somewhere near by and left it at that.

About two months later I was telling my story to some hikers at a camp site, asking them if they had run into it. They hadn’t, but read in a shelter journal of another hiker that had talked to a ranger in the area, and the ranger said that it was a rehabilitated hawk. It wasn’t afraid of humans, and it preferred hot food.

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