Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Afternoon hunt

I had about an hour after work today to get out in the field after some bushy tails. I went to a spot that I have not been to yet this season. It is very popular with the deer hunters and I generally avoid it until after deer season. But it was late on Tuesday so I thought I would be alright.

The best places to hunt in this particular stretch of woods are a series of ridges that have mixed oak, pine, and pig nut hickory. It is full of squirrels. The problem that I did not take into account, even though I have been complaining about it for weeks, was the water. All of those valleys were now pools of standing water

Temps were in the fifties, and I had an hour of daylight. I pulled the birds out and tossed them into the trees. I noticed the water and figured that as long as I stayed along the ridge I was on, we would be just fine.

I got out the camera to pop a shot at the birds, and they were off, winging their way across the water. Of course.

I had to track around the pond to find a place to cross, and when I did, the birds were already hot on the tail of a squirrel. I followed the best I could, weaving around the water and banging on the trees. They crossed another pond, the squirrel diving from branch to branch in a frantic chase, before Tess took a swipe at it and plucked it out of mid air, parachuting down with it, and landing with a splash.

She dragged the drenched squirrel out of the water and onto the pine needles. I waded around to find them, the squirrel already dead.

Perfect transfer, and we chased another. we lost two to holes, the squirrels seemed to be crossing the water as often as possible. It didn't bother the birds, but it really got annoying to the short, out of shape guy on the ground. They grabbed one on the ground, both birds piling on, but somehow the squirrel twisted free in the birds' confusion, and soared out of their grasp to the nearest tree trunk. Found a hole, and was gone. If you look hard, you can see the squirrel about to disappear around the trunk.

Finally, the birds zeroed in on a vine tangle near the top of a tree. I didn't see anything, but I trust my birds. So I started tugging vines, and Gonzo hit it like a missile. Then Tess piled in and hit it from below, both hawks grabbing hold.

It was a bit precarious as the birds may be up there grabbing one another, while the squirrel chews on toes and legs.

Two hawks and a squirrel in a tree.

I blew my whistle and tossed a mouse to the side. Both birds disentangled themselves and dropped, the squirrel falling freely.

Tess set her wings and glided to the mouse, Gonzo folded and followed the squirrel. The squirrel hit first, bounced, then Gonzo nailed him. The squirrel squealed, and I waded in.

We dropped this one in the bag. The sunlight was fading, so we called it a day.

Number 9 and 10.

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