When Craig Loving arrived at his job at a country club one day in 2017, one can only imagine that he was expecting a normal shift. However, after an owl got tangled up in a fishing line, Loving leapt into action. The animal’s reaction, however, was simply extraordinary.
Loving works as the golf course superintendent at the Lost Creek Country Club in Austin, Texas. Sitting in Texas Hills Country, the club’s secluded setting provides a sanctuary for its members.
Indeed, Lost Creek Country Club does all it can to blend in with its surroundings. With that in mind, its website states that the natural landscape of the golf course is one of the most environmentally friendly fairways in Austin.
So, while Loving’s role mainly revolves around the maintenance of the golf green, from time to time he turns his hand to more unusual tasks. And that’s exactly what happened one day when an owl became tangled up on the course, leaving it perching on a branch in a lake.
Given the country club’s commitment to nature, Loving wasted no time in pulling on his waders and leaping into action. Later, a video would be posted to YouTube that displayed the superintendent’s epic rescue effort in full.
In the footage, Loving revealed just how stuck the owl had become. “A fishing line was wrapped around his wing,” he explained. “So they were going to try to get somebody to go out and get it, and I guess I volunteered.”
With no time to lose, Loving entered the water, approaching the owl as slowly as possible – one would guess so as not to frighten it. Then, when he was close enough, Loving reached out behind the animal with a pair of pliers and clipped the fishing line that was holding the bird in place.
Explaining what followed, Loving said, “I cut the fishing line and then it was still wrapped around [the owl]. I unwrapped it a couple of times.” However, despite the superintendent’s efforts, the bird still wasn’t free.
Indeed, it soon became clear that the owl was well and truly tangled up in the fishing line – and it appeared that the bird’s right wing had caught the worst of it. Loving hence pulled the wing up and carefully inspected every feather for snags.
As Loving worked to free the owl, it seemed as if the animal understood that he was there to help. As a result, it remained surprisingly calm, even allowing Loving to comfort it. Loving described the creature’s temperament, saying, “He kept slamming his beak down like trying to just say, ‘Hey! I don’t like this.’ But I kinda talked to it a little bit.”
So, aware of the bird’s talons, Loving continued to work towards its release. He finally made some progress and was able to free the owl. However, he still had to figure out how to get the animal back onto dry land.
At that point, Loving had a smart idea. “We got a shovel and we took the shovel handle and used it as a perch,” he explained. Carefully balancing the owl on the handle, the superintendent slowly made his way back to the lakeside.
All the while, the owl glared at Loving with its bright, distinctive eyes. “[It was] a little intimidating,” Loving admitted. “Especially when its beak started snapping at me, but it was cool. It was definitely very cool.”
Finally, Loving reached the safety of land, and he was able to set the owl down. Describing that moment, he said, “I walked him out of there and put him on the bank, and I guess he was good after that.”
Back on land, Loving continued to check the owl’s wing – and it seemed he had managed to untangle the bird. Indeed, as Loving crouched next to the animal, it backed away before finally flying off to its freedom.
But while the bird didn’t give its rescuer so much as a second glance, Loving won’t forget his run-in with the owl anytime soon. “It was definitely the first time I’ve ever done that,” he admitted. “So it was a new experience.”
Following the owl’s rescue, Loving and his colleague Dawn Denny decided that the footage that they’d captured was too good not to share. Consequently, in March 2017, they posted their video on YouTube.
Since then, the rescue footage has become an online hit, clocking up over 1.3 million views. Furthermore, it has attracted dozens of comments, many of which hail Loving as a hero for saving the owl.
One such comment read, “I love these videos of those coming to the aid of wildlife in distress and getting many different animals out of tough situations. Thank you for saving that beautiful owl – it was great to see it fly away unharmed.”
Another YouTube user took the opportunity to warn other country club members to think about their impact on the environment. “I hope the club gets the word out to never leave fishing line behind that wildlife might get entangled in,” they urged. Indeed, it was a spectacular rescue but hopefully one that Loving will never have to repeat.