Sunday, November 7, 2010
Johnathan came up from Jacksonville yesterday for a morning of hunting. He brought his sharp shinned hawk and we started off with some car hawking.
I have always understood that accipiters are crazy, high strung, and often difficult to hunt. We trapped one last year and I considered hunting with it, but soon let it loose as I was not up to the challenge.
Johnathan's little girl dispelled many of these myths.
Johnathan is a hawkers - hawker. He maintains this little bird impeccably and hunts her everyday. After about 26 days, she already has 29 kills. Her primary mode of hunting; car hawking. And, once we figured out she didn't like my Steelers baseball cap, she was well mannered riding unhooded in the car.
We rode around looking for the right slip. It was later in the morning than we would have liked (Johnathan had driven up just that morning), the wind was blowing and rain was spitting off and on.
Conditions could be better.
We tried two slips on starlings. The bird missed, both times. Johnathan was frustrated. Then the bird flew and landed in a tree. It took a few minutes, while the restaurant manager, whose parking lot we were idling in, gave us dirty looks.
The bird came down to the lure, and we decided to give the sharpie a rest.
We went back to the house and loaded up the harris hawks. They were both fat, as I had fed them up a few days before in anticipation of a cold front that never came.
Tess was working hard, Gonzo - not so much. We had a few squirrel chases where the squirrel won by either getting in a hole, or scampering to the top of a giant pine. The hawks were not motivated enough to follow.
Suddenly, Tess cruised low, then crashed to the ground. I stumbled over, more curious than hopeful, and she was on a squirrel HA !
Score one - but wait. This squirrel was dead, and already partially eaten. That's when we noticed the red tail screaming at us from overhead. Apparently we had scored anther hawks kill.
Doesn't count (though it still goes in the freezer).
We waded on. A chase quickly ensued. The leaf cover was too thick to see any of it, but it ended with Tess gliding to the ground, squirrel in her talons.
We wandered a bit more, but it was getting late, so we called it a day.
On the way back to my house we noticed a flock of starlings across the street that looked ripe for the pickin'.
We switched vehicles and got the sharp shin ready for another try.
We cruised by slow, checking it out. The hawk was on Johnathan's fist, ready to go. But every time we passed, the flock flew. Johnathan, though good natured about the day, was frustrated.
We pulled into a parking lot behind the flock, and there was a single starling, hopping amongst some rocks on the edge of the blacktop.
Johnathan nudged the car forward,and dumped the hawk out the window.
It disappeared below our line of sight.
Then it creamed into the starling, grabbing it and carrying it into a thicket.
I could hear the starling yelling the whole way in.
Slam, park, run.
She was hidden amongst the leaves getting control of the bird. The starling screeched as the sharpie adjusted its grip.
Johnathan came in, pushing aside the vegetation and began tidbitting. The bird accepted the offerings greedily.
Johnathan let her eat, then transferred her off neatly.