I just got back from one of our annual falconry meets. This one was across the state towards Raleigh. I left after work on Friday - but I didn't get far.
As I was crossing the bridge towards the mainland I realized that I was going to be passing right by my little rabbit hole by the bay.
My hawks were already in the car, so.....
Yeah - I stopped. I had a four and a half hour car ride, so how much could this little detour set me back?
It is a small field so I only took out one bird. Gonzo this time. I crashed briers for a while before we got a rabbit moving. Gonzo hasn't seen many rabbits this year, but he followed and pointed like a champ.
It wasn't long before he folded off a branch and dropped like a stone to the base of a tree. I secured the rabbit and gonzo stepped off.
I don't have to trade him off any more. Once I get a hold of whatever he catches, he will step off and wit for you to throw a tidbit for him. It makes transfers really easy.
At one point this weekend, another falconer went in to secure a squirrel that Gonzo had caught (he had my permission). When Gonzo stepped off of it, the falconer looked at me, incredulous. "What do I do now?" He asked. I just laughed. "kill the squirrel. Then toss a tidbit."
It really has gotten that easy.
Back to my trip out - we weren't even to the meet and already we had one in the bag. We wandered for a bit more, chased a squirrel and a few more rabbits, but then I had to get back on the road.
After the four hour trip, we checked into the hotel.
The next morning - we met at McDonalds and divided up the hunting parties. I was flying with James, another harris hawker in the morning. Additionally, we had about a dozen preteen spectators tagging along to watch. We weren't thrilled with the idea, but it got the youngsters out in the woods and that is always a good thing.
What made this particularly interesting for me is that his bird was a passage, trapped in Arizona, just this fall. I've been curious about the differences between passage birds, and captive bred ones ( as I may have the opportunity to go and try and trap this fall).
His bird was well mannered and did everything a hawk was supposed to (considering all the extra people, the hawk did great). No kill on that flight, but the young hawk did fine.
Next we got out my birds - they did great ( I may be biased) We quickly lit upon a squirrel. They chased him across the line of young pine trees, until the squirrel couldn't stand the heat and bailed.
What followed was probably the longest foot chase I have ever seen - maybe 500 yards - through the yong pine trees, with hawks falling from the sky like bombs. The squirrel would weave in and out of the cover of the pines and the hawks just could not connect. Finally, the squirrel made it to a large oaks and started to scamper up the side. Tess Scraped it from the side, dropped it and Gonzo nailed it on the ground.
By that time, we needed to head out and meet the rest of the club for lunch, we headed back to the cars, hawks following behind. I got the birds to pose for a few pictures - short flight to the fist from the trees, that kind of thing, when over the hill comes a coyote.
Running in front of him is a rabbit. The coyote stops, but the rabbit continues down the road and disappears in the brush about 15 feet away. I had Tess half way in the giant hood.
I look at James - he looks at me - What the heck. I toss tess up into a tree, and the chase is on.
Five minutes later, Tess folds in mid air, does a wing over and crashes, grabbing the marshrabbit by the rump.
Two in the bag, and more hunting after lunch. Can't wait.