I sat next to Gary in OTA country and he told me the story of his pet golden eagle. After he finished telling it, I knew it was perhaps the best story I’d ever heard.
When Gary was 14 years old and living in rural Idaho, he found a nest of golden eagle eaglets near his home. There were four eaglets and Gary knew that one or two wouldn’t make it. They’d be starved out by their older siblings—nature’s survival of the fittest.
Gary intervened and took the runt home with him. He raised the eagle, a female, and named it George. He built her a coop. He taught her to hunt and she often brought Gary rabbits and pheasants. Gary wore a rhinoceros-hide glove on his left hand and arm to handle George.
They became fast friends and spent many hours together in the woods. Later, when Gary could drive, he bought a van and rigged up a perch for George to ride along with him. Gary often road tripped with his eagle perched in back, looking out the window.
When Gary joined the military, a buddy kept George for him until he returned. When Gary got his discharge, he took right up with George where they’d left off.
Gary became an electrician in Ketchum and George was his sidekick. This went on for many years.
On George’s 40th birthday, Gary decided to set her free. He drove a 100 miles from his home and turned her loose. George returned three days later.
Gary was disappointed and elated at George’s return. He had wanted her to go back to the wild. But George didn’t want to and she lived the rest of her life with Gary.