Sunday, February 7, 2010

Relieving pressure

The sun finally came out, but the temperatures dropped and everything has started to freeze. For those of you in colder climes, no big deal, - here this is cold!

I was looking at the calender and was realizing that hitting my goal was going to be close. I only needed to get skunked on one or two hunts, or if the weather continues to suck - I won't make it. 30 for the season.

So I sucked it up and went out hunting. The wind was still blowing, but I picked a spot that lay low in a "bowl" with many stunted trees. Mostly leafy, green live oaks. Great habitat for squirrels, but hard for the birds to maneuver through.

We started off strong, Tess spotting a squirrel straight away. It was a chase through the tree tops. The hawks couldn't get through the cover for a grab, but the squirrel could squeeze through easily. Above and below the canopy, up and down. The squirrel hit the ground, the hawks folded.

The squirrel bolted into a small hole at the base of the tree, smaller than my wrist. I tried to rouse him by skewering him with a stick, but he was up in there. We moved on.

Another quick chase, this one the squirrel hit the ground early, Tess had just tried a stoop and was out of position, so Gonzo closed on this one. There was a wrestling match on the ground, hawk squirrel, hawk. At one point they both bounced in the air, Gonzo was able to readjust, and then subdued him very neatly.

Got another one moving. This one was a real chess match. Small movements from the squirrel from one side of the tree to the other. He kept himself just out of reach. The hawks would stoop, he'd scurry just so far so they couldn't get at him. Finally, when the birds had both made a bid at him, and were out of his line of sight, he dropped to the ground and disappeared into a hole. We got nothing.

Next one was a battle in the treetops. The squirrel spiraled to the top of the live oaks. The birds engaged in the top most branches. All I could see was the branches shaking. Gonzo stayed out of this one and waited for the squirrel to drop. I heard the squirrel squeal as Tess killed it in the tree tops. She took it and glided down with it, landing about 25 yards away and with firm control of it.

It was time to be done,The clouds were building and the wind was picking up, so we started wandering out. Rousted another squirrel on the way, making it three for the day.

Somewhere along the way Tess suffered a bite on the rear talon. It bled a whole lot, but the bite itself was superficial. It is going to happen -bites. If the hawks are good, that will minimize the injuries (They also seem to do better when they nail them on the ground).

The pressure is way off, we only need four more by the end of the month. It ended up being a great day for hunting.

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