My house backs up to a little patch of woods.
Around my yard there are different critters in cages; the rabbit hutch, chicken coop, pigeon loft.
Additionally, I have three small dogs.
Apollo, the smallest, weighs in at a mere 5 pounds. Tess is semi dog aggressive. I don't think that she would think twice about grabbing Apollo.
Needless to say, I don't often hunt around my house.
The squirrels run rampant. They love the live oaks, and the pine nuts. They feast on the hickory nuts and scramble around the hawk cages with impunity.
In North Carolina, most of the falconers I know don't build a traditional mew, they go for the weathering area, jump box set up. My hawk houses are constructed in this way. The ceilings and walls are made of mesh. The hawks can see everything that goes on around them.
Squirrels like to taunt them.
They scamper around their weathering areas. They feast on nuts perched above the ceilings of their cages. They toss acorn husks at them.
I feel bad for the hawks.
Today we sought revenge. I had all of my gear at school, but I forgot my boots again. I had to run home to get them, when I decided that I would just hunt in the back yard. I shut all the animals up, covered the rabbits, and let loose the birds of war!
It didn't take long. the backyard squirrels had built up a disdain for the ineffective hawks, so it was almost like they didn't even realize they were supposed to run.
Gonzo took the first one, scraping off a branch, tussling on the way down, before settling into a head grip and landing. Tess piled in, wanted her piece.
Transfer, move on to the next. At one point my neighbor was watching as both birds landed on the eves of his roof, while he was stringing lights from his second floor deck, then we wandered deeper into the woods.
The second squirrel was quick. The temperature has finally dropped into the forties - perfect for hawking. The squirrels have started to hide in their nests.
The hawks were both close and in position. I yanked the vine that snaked up into a nice looking nest. A buck squirrel popped out of the top of the nest. Instead of running the rest of the way up the tree, he bailed. He set his arms and legs like a sail, stretched out his tail, and tried to fly.
Tess folded up, fell off the branch, and dropped like a stone. The squirrel hit the ground running. Tess set his wings, flapped hard, and tumbled over the squirrel, coming out on top.
There were more squirrels out there, but two was a nice start. Vengeance was mine!
Almost more important though...
Somewhere between Squirrel #1 and #2, the hawks engaged in a ground chase.
I of course assumed it was a squirrel, hiding in the brush, but first Tess dove, then Gonzo.
A flash of white.
then the distinctive squeal of a rabbit, caught.
I rushed up to see both Tess and Gonzo riding the bronco ride of a freshly caught cotton tail.