The weather, wind, and my daughter's soccer schedule have all conspired against me this week. I am currently out of town, sitting on the end of my hotel room bed. One son is camping with the boy scouts, and the rest of the family is here at the Beast of the East soccer tournament.
I won't be hunting this weekend. I fed the birds up before I left, their weight should be about right by Sunday. So to make up for this lost time, I can tell you about the other weekend when I took the birds to Lillington. I call the time lost - but it isn't truly. Any time I can be with my family is time well spent - but - I'd still like to be hunting.
It was a meet for the North, and many South, Carolina falconers. It was hosted by Chip G. with a lot of help from his friends and family in Lillington.
There were a bunch of birds.
There were Red tails.
There were falcons.
There were a bunch of old friends getting together to share what they love to do.
For me, it ended up as Harris-a-palooza. I hooked up with a couple of guys who brought their young harris' hawks. These birds had never flown with other Harris' before. We had a blast.
I put Gonzo and Tess up with the a another male, Pee Wee. This tiercel belonged to a South Carolina breeder, Chris. They flew together great. We chased a squirrel out of it's nest, across the tree tops but it disappeared into a hole.The birds dove into the brush at a bunch of rabbits, but never connected in the thick briars.
The nests can be thick.
Bill W. but up his pair of Harris, and they flew immaculately. They followed well, and chased a few squirrels admirably.
We tried another spot with one of Chris' juvenile birds. We were flying close to a kennel of beagle puppies, so I didn't feel comfortable putting up Tess. We got a squirrel moving quickly, and the hawks worked great. They didn't work together, but they took turns and chased the squirrel until he couldn't stand the pressure. He kept jumping from spindly branch to pine tree to treetop, and finally bailing to the ground. The squirrel took off for a better hiding space, the hawks flying low across the clipped grass. The squirrel made it to a hole in a root bundle, and the birds pitched up, landing above where the squirrel disappeared.
I got down on hands and knees, peering between the roots, into the hole where the squirrel was hiding. The birds couldn't see him, but his tail was there, sticking out from between the leaf litter and the root bundle. I reached in with my gloved hand, trying to dislodge him. He wouldn't budge. I pulled out a bundle of fur. The squirrel still wouldn't move.
The hawks perched above us, peering down, their heads bobbing in anticipation. I finally reached all the way into the hole, twisting my hand so it would fit. I grabbed what I thought was the squirrel and pulled it out of the hole. The little grey was curled up in a ball in my hand, trying to gnaw a hole in my glove.
Not knowing what to do, I pitched the squirrel back out into the field. Gonzo bolted from the branch and scored this one as he ran for cover. I pulled Gonzo off, and Chris was hoping his young bird could get some experience with squirrels. So we held Gonzo and released the squirrel. He was still in good shape, so he bolted for the trees.
Chris' bird dove from her perch, and the squirrel didn't have a chance. We fed up the young female and went back for our own lunch.
The afternoon would prove to be even cooler.