Sunday, October 17, 2010

Outer Banks Beach Trapping

I got a call from Dan yesterday. He was the NC falconer who got one of the the peregrine falcon trapping tags. We had a good conversation about their trials and tribulations trapping on the Outer Banks. He never did fill his tag.

Neither did Allen, the falconer from Maryland who pulled the other peregrine tag.

I am still learning about this beach trapping thing, but I have made a few observations over the years about trapping in this place I call home. I'm glad Dan left here with a positive attitude, even though he and his friends had many obstacles. And he left without his peregrine. He came in with the right attitude.

Trapping here is tough. Getting good land permission is almost impossible. I had permission on two different tracts of land and we had identified a third possible site on the map. I wanted to see where the birds were.

If you come here to trap - bring four wheel drive. Good four wheel drive. Much of the good trapping sites are through the dunes, where there are no roads. Dan's group got stuck in a hole in a dune track. We'd had lots of rain, there was flooding, and the hole was deeper than they thought. $450 dollars for a tow - w0w.

Anyway. You need four wheel drive, and you need time. we were plagued with high winds and bad weather. And very few birds moving this year. You can't expect to trap a peregrine in two or three days. Could it happen? Sure. But it rarely does.

Plan on a week, maybe more. and lots of time in the blind. Certain weather patterns promise more birds. Not always. North winds seem to provide the most, but they can't be blowing too hard. I can't see not trapping because the winds aren't exactly right. Really, I only need one bird, the right bird, to come to the nets. That could happen any day.

I hear stories about Cape May and Virginia's North shore, Virginia, and ridge trapping. I get emails from guys who are catching 4, 5, 15 birds in a day.

I've never had that happen here. Could my trapping be substandard? am I not doing everything I could? maybe. The fact seems to be that we just don't have the concentrations of birds funneling down our beaches like other areas. I don't know where all the birds go. They seem to disperse once they leave the kiptopeke hawk watch site.

We don't see those numbers.

If you don't have a lot of time, nor are you patient. Don't draw a tag to trap in North Carolina. Make sure you have permission from landowners before you come and know the conditions that you will be facing. Dress and drive appropriately. Plan on disappointment.

Dan and his group treated it like a trapping vacation. They trapped during the day, spending time with friends. they ate well at night. they watched football in the evenings. Treat it like a vacation where instead of golf, or fishing, your spending time with your friends in a 4X4 blind, shooting the breeze and watching birds (or not).

Dan went home with a merlin. Four of the trappers left the beach with merlins. Other birds were trapped and released, merlins and coopers mostly. His bird is flying to him inside the house now and he is starting to think about how to introduce it to game.

Good - he's having fun. That is what falconry should be about.

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