Friday, November 20, 2009

Flying Free . . . . and Lessons Learned

Yesterday, at 560/555 grams, I flew Cimarron free, and he did very good. We walked around the perimeter of the park where I've been doing training exercises. I almost walked into a thicker grassy area behind the back of the ballpark, but seeing some more of the huge spiders I've observed prevented me from doing so. It was a very windy day, and he kited around me and the area, coming back quickly to me if I called him to the fist. At the end of the walk he came to the lure and was easily picked up and put back into his giant hood. Today started out very well. He was a bit heavier than the weight yesterday, and I know better, but I'm about to go into my long work weekend, and this was the last day for several days for me to get out in the morning for a good training/hunting flight. I tried a new field that I found yesterday, which turned out to be very disappointing. I have yet to find any bunnies in Texas, other than smushed ones on the road. It had lots of grassy areas. It had lots of cactus. It had a small mostly dried up pond with lots of cattails. It had a large field full of tumbleweeds, which should have been full of bunnies . . . . but I have not flushed a single one. Cimarron followed very well, and came to me whenever I'd do a tidbit call. All went well until it was time to leave. I made my way back to my truck, and pulled the lure. He flew in, landed very nearby, then jumped in and snatched the lure, and flew off with it. PANIC! I've never had a hawk do this before. It's called 'carrying' . . . . and it can be a very bad habit, especially if he catches game in the future that is light enough for him to fly off with. He flew a short distance, and as I moved to close that distance, he picked up the lure and flew off a lot further, and over a fence, into an eclosure that had cows. OK, time to very quickly cross the fence and get him out of there. I found a place in the fenceline just high enough at the bottom to allow me to scoot underneath. I then moved towards where I'd last seen my bird. This is where the bells come in handy. His bells allerted me to his exact location. By the time I got near him, he had finished his chick off the lure, so was no longer interested in taking off with it. I also had a good sized piece of meat on my glove, to which he responded. WHEW!! I had flown him without jesses, so quickly slipped those on while he was busy with the large tidbit that he was unable to eat quickly, or fly off with. Lessons Learned today: * Fly him at the weight you've discovered his best response, and not any higher at this point. With time, as he becomes more reliable, that weight can go up. But not yet. * Use the line on the lure and restrict his ability to grab it and fly off with it. I really need to find some fields that have game in them. I've checked out a few spots near and in town, but found nothing promising yet. It now is time to start exploring the properties several persons have offered up when they found out I was a falconer. It's important that I produce game under this little hawk, and soon, so he knows what my value in the field is. On that note, I also took a very long drive yesterday to acquire three bob white quail. At the right time, during a training hunt, I'll release them, one at a time, and see if he'll make a go at them. Hopefully he will. But I'd also like to flush some bunnies under him . . . .soon!

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