Thursday, November 25, 2010

Grey Wednesday

I don't generally celebrate Black Friday. Instead, I celebrate Grey Wednesday.

I had to drop my daughter off at the movies at 3:00, I had to stop by work and I was in the field at 3:20. I needed to pick up my girl again at 5:00 so time was a premium.

I hadn't hunted this patch of woods since last season. Then it was marginal habitat. There was plenty of food for the squirrels as the area was edged with live oaks, but the interior of the wood was often wet and swampy. I could walk it in boots, as the water was never deep, but it wasn't good for squirrels to forage.

This year, with less rain, it looks much better.

As I entered the woods I had to wade through a boarder of yearling pines. And the hawks were off. I had flushed something along the ground. I chased after them, but couldn't keep up. All I saw was the something flashing along the ground, the hawks diving.

Tess dove and missed, finding herself out of position, Gonzo went in.
Soon I heard the jangle of bells as Gonzo tumbled on the ground tussling with a squirrel.

I found him on the ground, squirrel attached to one anklet, both Gonzo's feet attached to the squirrels head and face. Nice catch. He got a flesh wound on one rear toe, it bled, but was really superficial. So fifteen minutes in and one squirrel in the bag.

The birds never made it up to their hunting height before we were off after our next squirrel. Tree to tree, the squirrel leapt, his destination was a large elm, another old pine leaning against it. And the squirrel was gone.

The birds knew it was there. They climbed and circled, flew off to a nearby tree for a better vantage point, then came back. Then they spotted the nest. It was hidden in the crotch of the tree, Tess pounced on it. Scratched and tore.


ripe, rip scratch - leaves flew. Nothing.

I gave up and started walking away. This one must have found a hole.

I turned back to call the hawks along. Tess was still scratching on top of the nest when the squirrel popped out the bottom. It was a big grey.

Gonzo launched from and adjacent tree. Gonzo grabbed the squirrel firmly on the rump, but this grey was having none of it. He spiraled down the trunk with Gonzo attached and flailing behind him.

Squirrel, hawk, squirrel circling down the trunk like lines on a barber pole, when Tess launched from the nest and snatched the squirrel by the head. The two hawks came helicoptering down with the squirrel between them.

Forty minutes of hunting, two squirrels, time to start heading home.

Tess launched off her trade off piece after a squirrel that was running along the ground. Another chase ensued. This one was quick as the squirrel bailed out of a tree early on and Tess took it on the ground, wrapping it up nicely by the head.

I was out of trade off tid-bits. I was down to two mice to call the birds back to the truck. Hiding from the birds, I cut these in half "just in case", and made a B line to the car. It was 4:15. I would be done hunting in plenty of time to get my daughter.

We didn't make it out of the woods.

A squirrel was frozen on the side of a pine as I walked underneath him, he moved. The chase was on.

I finally made it to the car at 4:35.

I got the birds away with plenty of time to get to the movies and pick up my daughter.

I'm wondering what my season total will be at the end of the month.

Happy Grey Wednesday.


Murphyfish said...

A quick and fruitful hunt Doug, Just love the way you and birds work as a Team.

steveo_uk said...

i cant wait to get squirell hawking, It's a shame we dont live closer because i would so be wanting to hunt out there with you.

Doug said...

Thanks John!

Steve, anytime your out my way, the invitation is open.

One day I hope to try some western hawking... maybe when the kids are older and I can get away. You have some unique opportunities in your neck of the woods.