Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gonzo & the Squirrel

Gonzo loves squirrels. I brought Tess into the mix because I couldn't keep Gonzo off of them, and Tess' feet can handle a squirrel bite better than Gonzo's would be able to. Don't get me wrong, both of the birds get bites when we hunt, but it is usually Tess that is the one that finishes the deal.

It is cool to watch them coordinate.

We went out today to a spot I've only hunted once this season. We chased a bunny from thick cover to thick cover right off the bat, but soon lost it. The rabbit was heading for the park where there was a family eating with their dog and small children and I didn't want to have to stop to answer questions today. I called them off the rabbit and moved into the trees.

It didn't take long before we had a squirrel moving through the scrub pine. Gonzo keeps higher in the trees, moving from pine top to pine top, while the heavier Tess waits a bit lowerin the branches, looking for the squirrel to bail out.

You learn to respect squirrels. They are fast, tough, and smart. This one knew exactly what he was doing. He menuevered from one side of the trunk to the other, keeping the horizontal branches between himself and both birds. When he had them both on the opposite side of the tree, he would leap to the next tree and the whole thing would start again. At one point, Tess was able to snatch him off the side of the trunk, only to get hung up in some branches. Her feet pistoned up and down, trying to find purchase, but the squirrel parried her talons with his own razor teeth. Tess dropped him and he fell to the ground, Gonzo nailing the spot where he landed a second too late.

Before either bird could extricate themselves, the squirrel spiraled up an other tree trunk and disappeared into a hole in a tree.

We moved on.

Our second squirrel was very much like the first. Tess would keep the squirrel high in the tree, and Gonzo would push him to the ends of the branches, where he could only leap into Tess' claws, or bail out to the ground, only to be hit by twin feathered missles.

The battle raged from treetop to treetop. Pine to oak to beech. Gonzo kept pushing and finally the squirrel couldn't take the pressure and bailed for the ground. Tess saw her chance and leapt, Gonzo right behind.

As usual, Tess got this one. She is generally the one who binds to the quarry, but Gonzo works it hard and they both get some reward for their efforts.

The team works just like I wanted them too.

I traded Tess off the squirrel and gave Gonzo some quality footing time. We took some pictures and called it a day at one.

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