Kayak Angler Rescues Heron Dangling By Its Beak (Video)

Beleaguered bird makes for an unexpected catch of the day

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Matt Nelson, also known as YouTube’s NDYakAngler, has done a ton of fishing around Fargo, North Dakota—but until recently he hadn’t seen it all. While paddling on the nearby Sheyenne River, Nelson spotted a heron hanging by its beak from a lofty tree limb. The angler went above and beyond to rescue the stricken bird, using his fishing skills to finally free the heron. Nelson’s compassion even landed him a spot on the local TV news.

Angler Rescues Heron Dangling By Its Beak

It was a calm, sunny day and Nelson was fishing for pike and muskie when he first spotted the heron dangling high over the river. “Oh, it’s still alive up there,” he noted as the bird began to flap, “I hate to see that.” Nelson paddled closer and considered how he could help.

kayak angler interviewed on the TV news about his heron rescue mission
Nelson was interviewed on the WDAY TV News about his compassionate wildlife rescue. | Image: WDAY-ABC TV News

“I wonder if I could cast my lure over that branch and break it down with 30-lb braid,” Nelson said. He sprang into action, but the line wasn’t quite strong enough to break the branch.

In the end, the determined angler paddled back to his truck for a length of rope and used it to free the trapped bird. He netted the heron and dislodged its beak from the branch. Then, Nelson brought the bird to shore and watched from the water as it began to recover.

“I hope it survived,” Nelson said afterward about his impromptu heron rescue. “I do know its chances were much better the way I left it than the way I found it.” Nelson’s unusual rescue mission was reported in the Grand Forks Herald and he was interviewed on the WDAY TV News.

You’re Not Equipped for Rescue Without a PFD

The only thing missing from this rescue operation is a PFD. What if something goes wrong on a remote river with no cellphone reception, like the Sheyenne? A properly fitted PFD can help you hang on long enough for rescue. Otherwise, as the hapless heron shows, circumstances can leave you twisting in the wind—or sleeping with the fishes. Don’t leave your safety and your life up to luck!

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