Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First Kill

Today, finally, we were practicing "falconry" . . . which is defined as catching wild quarry with a trained raptor. OK . . . what we caught was small . . . but it was wild, and we did catch it. I'm a bit house bound right now as I had an accident with my vehicle a couple weeks ago, and my truck is in the shop getting repaired. I was told it may possibly get totaled, and would have to be replaced, but apparently the repairs didn't go over the value of the vehicle. So, this being the first day off after 5 days of work, I really needed to get my bird out for some exercise. Not being able to go very far, I decided to try the field just around the corner which I've not tried before. Walking over to look it over before I brought the bird, I flushed a bunny within 1 minute. OK, good field for once!! I brought Cimarron across the street hooded to keep him from bating while I dodged the traffic on the street in front of my house. As soon as we were in the field, I hit the tumble weeds where I had flushed the bunny a few minutes ago, but no more in there. I then went over to the patch where the bunny had run to, and did flush him again. What followed was a delightful half hour practicing falconry as I have known it. I must have flushed several bunnies, or the same one (or two) multiple times. Cimarron was flying back and forth, and making several attempts. Some slips were in the open and I got to see the action. He was stooping at the bunnies just a little too slow, and they kept getting away. In the distant field on the high power poles the resident red tailed hawk was watching us, but as I walked the field it kept its distance. At one point I even had a Coopers or Sharp-Shin buzz us, I'm not sure which it was. At the far end of the field, as I worked the brush piles and tumble weeds, Cimarron made a quick dive into the brush . . . . and to my surprise when I moved close to him, finally, he had something in his talons. He's been making attempts at mouse-like creatures several times in our hawking outings, but as of yet hadn't caught one. This time he did. And, as expected, he carried his prize away from me. I slowly moved to keep him close enough, and then waited for him to relax and start to pluck his prey. I was then able to move closer, and I offered him a chunk of rat on the glove. He quickly exchanged and went for the meat he could eat right away, letting his live rat go. I say "live" because it then tried to move away . . . . but was so damaged was easily caught. I stuffed it into my pocket, then secured the hawk by re-looping his jess into his anklet, and attaching his leash. I dispatched the rodent in my pocket, and once my hawk was done eating, returned home. I'm not exactly sure what he caught. It's pretty large for a mouse, yet seems too small for a rat. It may possibly be a desert kangaroo rat. It will make a good meal for the next two days. Really . . . . I don't care! It's his first head of game . . . . in an otherwise unsuccessful hawking season. I'll return to that field to try again for the bunnies. I'll also try several of the fields in the surrounding area. Hopefully soon we'll catch the first bunny. He makes a go for them, just needs more opportunity to be successful.

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