I had a little over an hour to get out after work today for a quick hunt. I started out following the ridges, but quickly found that my quarry was going to be down in the bottoms. In this particular spot, the bottoms are actually swampy, with standing water and muck. One had to be careful where they step. I found my feet being sucked into the mud on more than one occasion.
The birds, weights were great and the temperature was in the mid forties. This was a spot I'd never hunted, but there were plenty of nests and young trees. The downside was the thick canebrake, the holes formed by exposed root bundles, and in some cases, nearly impenetrable thickets.
But after wandering the ridge for almost 45 minutes without seeing a single squirrel, we flushed one as soon as we got down into the marsh. I never saw him. Leaves and branches were in the way, but the sound of the hawks bells let me know that they were in pursuit of something. I did my best to keep up, and at one point I did see them crash through the low canopy, into the shrubs in front of me.
I don't know who really scored the squirrel. They were both attached to it when I arrived. Gonzo firmly held the head.
I traded them off, realizing that my time was drawing short. My daughter needed me to drive her to soccer, so I needed to get going. I began working my way back to the truck, and soon enough, the birds were on another squirrel. I got to see some of the chase this time. The squirrel bailed out of the tree tops and bounded across the marsh, between trees, and through piles of debris. The hawks were right behind it, coming in low. Gonzo hugged the ground like a fighter jet, and Tess was off of his left wing and behind. The squirrel dove under a thick branch, through the water. Gonzo closed, grabbing the squirrel from behind, while Tess pulled up, over the branch, and nailed him from above. The squirrel was caught between them, laying in the shallow water.
I traded them off after a bit of squabbling.
Tess ended up getting soaked and had a hard time staying in the air when she flew back to the car, but her crop was filling up after two good trade offs and and extra mouse. Her recall was still perfect.
I really needed to go this time.
I got my daughter to practice on time - then put up the birds. I cut off the squirrel tails. My sponsor taught me to do this as kind of a way to keep track. Like a trophy wall, I hang them up to dry. The board I'm using is full, and the season isn't even over yet.
I'll be out again on Saturday.