Monday, February 9, 2009

A Lillington Afternoon

We had McDonalds for lunch. I actually really like McDonalds. We talked hawks and terrain. We discussed kills, and hunts. Then we organized our afternoon.

A bunch of us headed off to a farm on the outskirts of town. There was a lake and a sloping green lawn with a log cabin in the distance. A line of trees stood sentry along the edge of the property, and we could hunt from the line of trees, back.

There were three of us there, all with Harris' hawks, we decided, "what the heck," and we put all four of them up together.

There was my two birds, Pee-Wee the tiercel, and Rudy (Chip's first year tiercel, who had never hunted squirrels). It started out as chaos. Rudy and Pee-Wee kept crabbing with one another, and Gonzo flew off towards the house. The briars were thick, the birds were fighting, and we decided the best thing to do was to get some game moving to keep their interest.

It didn't take long. We had squirrels running every which way. The hawks squirted in all directions. Every one yelled "ho, ho" and leapt after their birds. We were running, yelling, and tripping through the thick underbrush. I couldn't catch my breath as I was laughing so hard. It took a while but the birds finally started coordinating their efforts and focused their energy on between one and three squirrels in a single giant pine.

The hawks circled from branch to branch, climbing the tree. Rudy did great. He was the playmaker, moving around the tree, and getting the squirrels to move from the topmost branches. The hawks chased, the squirrels ran, but one by one the rodents were able to disappear, across the forest floor, with hawks diving from the air, and into the metal roof of the garden shed.

We moved on, finding more squirrels. some would move, some wouldn't, but the tangles were thick, the ground cover heavy.

It was hard going, but the hawks finally connected, three piling on all at once. We dispatched the squirrel.

The head count wasn't great on the day. We had a lot of new elements, and it was hard keeping up with four birds at once. But man, it was a blast.

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