Thursday, November 29, 2012

Shirt Sale

What does the title of "shirt sale" have to do with falconry?  Well, not much, really!  Except we were in La Crosse on Wednesday morning for a shirt sale at the La Crosse Center.  Every year they have a big clearance on shirts that come from all kinds of places, and are sold at really good prices.  If you just want to pick up a bunch of shirts to use, not for dressy, but just utilitarian, the sale is your place.  We went to the sale with Rich's brother Brian, Sister Debbie, and niece, Laura.  After the sale and lunch, we took the Girls hunting back home, because they were both ready to be flown.  Sassy went first.  There were some heavy trucks that were moving around a compost pile where we were at, and the woods were filled with a sickly sweet rotting plant smell.  However there were still a couple of bunnies that had not been scared off, and we moved them around a little, scoring Sassy's #10 bunny in the end.  We had pushed the woods back to where Rich had flushed one into the brush at the end.  As I joined him I kicked it up one more time, and saw a really nice retreat by the bunny with Sassy following close, and scoring a catch.  Very Pretty!  This is the benefit of flying with a trained bird . . . you get to see the hunt up close.    
My bloody girl . . . all cropped up!
Hit Girl went second, and quickly scored a little appetizer mouse at the beginning of the hunt.  As we moved into the woods we did kick up a couple bunnies, but there was not much cover so they ran for the hills.  As we moved deeper into the woods a small black squirrel was flushed, and the chase was on.  It really was not much of a chase, and I have my doubts about the health of this squirrel.  When brought to the bag his fur looked kinda shabby, and he died pretty quickly without much of a fight, although he didn't feel too skinny.  When gutting him I noticed a large, unusual growth on his liver.  I removed the entire liver instead of letting the bird have it.  Not sure if this squirrel would have made it through winter on it's own or not.  As is, it did get picked off . . . by a trained hawk.  I don't often catch black squirrels.  It seems a little smaller than the normal grey squirrel, but I'm sure will taste the same to the hawk.  It was a good day hunting!

Thursday is my last day off from my vacation, then back to work.  It's been a nice break, but I'm ready to get back to our normal routine now.  The big 550 Million Lottery was drawn on Wednesday night, and neither Rich nor I had the winning numbers . . . so back to work on Friday for both of us!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Honoring of the Quarry and Meet Wrapup

In the early evening of the final day of the NAFA meet a special ceremony was arranged, and would be performed by Thomas Richter, who is a delegate from Germany for the International Association of Falconry.  It is a practice in Germany, after a hunt, to honor the quarry that has been hunted.  This is usually done as a moment of silent contemplation while a skilled hornsman plays a specific melody for each kind of game species that had been taken.  Earlier in the day the site was prepared with evergreen boughs, with torches marking the four corners.  Some falconers provided a representative game species to be placed in the center of the green field.  I brought one of the bunnies my hawks had caught.  A jackrabbit was also provided, as well as a duck and a pheasant.  We were cautioned to make sure to not step over and beyond the lineup of the quarry caught, or we would be in danger of having to buy the beer for everyone in attendance, for the entire night.  This being the evening of the closing banquet, all were careful where they placed their feet.
Representative Richter, above, explained the ceremony, and performed it.  The music was from a recording as a skilled hornsman was not in attendance.  Those who could were asked to bring their hawks.  I truly hoped that someone would record the ceremony (there were some people doing that) and that I could locate and link to it at a future time.  Richard participated with me.  These pictures are grainy as despite the white sky here, it was quite dark.
These two pictures here are of the same shot, but I find the Harris Hawk photo-bombing below to be humorous!
Rich and I posed by ourselves before packing everything up and getting to our room to clean up for the closing banquet.
The banquet was the usual banquet fare.  A good meal was had, and then guest speakers and recognition given to people who have done outstanding things over the past year for NAFA.  At the end of the evening was the final raffle.  There were many wonderful items to be had, but most were in the $5 raffle ticket category.  I bit the bullet and bought $60 worth of tickets, spreading them out among items that I'd like to have.  There were some very nice binoculars.  However, I was most delighted and surprised to have won the items below.
These books will probably warrant a blog post all of their own.  It is a collection of six of the books written by Fran Hamerstrom, as well as a biography of her life and of her husband Frederick.  They were influential, inspirational and conservation pioneers in Wisconsin in the 20th Century.  They both studied under Aldo Leopold.  Fran, among her many accomplishments, was a falconer.  I know I have already read a couple of her books.  Two of the books in this collection are signed by her.  The biography is signed by the author.  Holding the collection together is a set of bookends cast from the front paw of the first grizzly bear trapped in Yellowstone by John and Frank Craighead (well known in the falconry community).  This wonderful collection was donated jointly by John Dahlke of the Wyoming Wildlife Consultants LLC and Lance Craighead of the Craighead Institute.  Soon, very soon I shall write a personal thank you to each gentlemen for their kind donation to the NAFA meet raffle.  I feel very fortunate to have won this raffle prize, and shall treasure the collection.

NAFA Field Meet Day #4 (for us) Friday Nov. 23

Weight control had been difficult most of the week as the daily temperature rose into the 70s.  Warm birds don't burn their calories as much.  Also, I was housing them overnight in their boxes in the car.  Certainly it was cold, but not too very cold, as a fed up bird in a confined space also radiates heat into it's small enclosure, making warmth, and reducing calorie consumption.  I was determined on Friday that we would make a last, final strong push to increase our game take in Nebraska.  I researched online some possible places to try and hunt, and headed to bed with plans on getting an early start.  It was such an early start that Hit Girl was not even awake when I opened her box in the morning to check on her and weigh her.
With a little prodding she woke up, and immediately informed me she was hungry.  This girl is becoming increasingly more vocal . . . as Nina was, my very talkative hawk from a few years ago.  We met up at the weathering yard with a couple of local folks who approached me the day before.  Andy Mason and his father Steve had come out on Thursday to see the birds tied out in the weathering yard.  As I looked like a likely target walking by (had a bird on my fist) they inquired if they could ask me a few questions.  I never mind doing that . . . and after a brief chat, I invited them to go hunting with us on Friday.  Our first location was a Wildlife Management Area, which turned out to not have any game prospects to speak of.  After we pushed through a very thick, dried up pond of cattails without pushing out any bunnies (if they were there, they would have been in that spot) I decided to try someplace different.  Steve suggested a location closer to Kearney, so we relocated to check that out.    
The new location was not far from the place the lurchers were run, as well as where we saw the Gos fly.  As we moved into the spot, at first, it wasn't looking promising, but after awhile pushing the grass and whacking around a large downfall tree a bunny was flushed and made a quick exit towards a junk pile.  Andy and Rich and I followed and began to poke around and whack the junk pile . . . which popped the bunny out . . . and Hit Girl was overhead to take advantage of our efforts.  Andy was able to see a catch up close, which is what I had hoped.  He was the engaged party of our guests . . . . with perhaps those first flames of interest for falconry being lit.
Because she had already caught one bunny early in the week (and pretty much had a second one by effort, if not brought to the bag) I decided to crop Hit Girl up on this third rabbit and declare her day done.   She would spend the rest of the daylight hours weathering with a full crop.  I indicated to our local guests that we would take a 'coffee break' (I wanted to reward my early morning success with something hot from Caribou), and to meet back up around 11 at the weathering yard.  Rich and I then went to switch out birds, get that coffee, and some donuts from a local shop we had seen.  All sugared up, we returned to get Sassy's hawking party going.

Back at the meet hotel we met and invitations requested and granted for two other bunny whackers.  These two are experienced falconers who were not flying birds.  Donna Vorce is a Nebraska native, and her guest was an elder falconer, Bill MacBride from Pennsylvania.  Bringing along two experienced falconers can always be just a little intimidating.  They know what good falconry should look like.  When flying with such people you hope your bird performs well, and has been managed to catch game.  Management is what the game is all about!  These birds come to us with natural instincts to hunt and kill, but must be healthy, fit and at the correct weight to give a good effort.  Sassy is usually up to the task, but because of the warmth and her increased weight over the week had not given that good effort.  I had high hopes on this day to correct that, and for her to contribute to our game count for the week.

We caravaned back up north to the location we had hunted earlier in the week.  Connie Telford, to my immediate right, owns the land.  Her daughter, Jessica is on the end with her red cap.  Connie was able to go out with us earlier in the week and see Hit Girl fly, but on this day she was headed out to take care of her patients.  She is a home care nurse.  Jessica was able to stay with us, and we were welcomed to try and catch all the bunnies we could.  OK Sassy . . . No Excuses!  Let's get crackin!
She took my challenge seriously!  Before much more than a couple minutes had passed as we walked away from the back door (above) we kicked up a bunny.  Sassy was on it, giving a really nice flight down the hill and into the trees.  We all ran down to take care of business with Bunny #1, and with just a little treat, I put Sassy back up to keep going.  She needed more flight time.
Our second slip took a little longer to accomplish.  Our party of six moved around the property of thick grass, several brush piles, some collections of tumble weeds (both still attached and free-tumbling) as well as junk piles.  As we worked down the hill, among the trees, around, and then began the ascent, Bunny #2 was kicked up, and Sassy made short work of it as well.  Again, a small reward, and I decided we would try one more time.  I knew Sassy was good for the task . . . even though Bill teased me for being 'greedy'. 
Being greedy may have been a true assessment, but it did pay off.  As we returned up the hill and came close to the house again, a third rabbit was kicked up, and Sassy caught it in a fast flight.  I have never tripled, mostly because I don't like to push any of my hawking sites too hard, preferring to preserve the game there, as I return from year to year.  However, I was not going to be returning to this Nebraska farm, not for a long time at least, excepting that I could return in several years when the NAFA meet returns to Kearney.  Any heavy toll of bunnies today would not impact their numbers in years to come, rabbits being rabbits!  I ended Sassy's hunt, and cropped her up.
I think calling this cropped up is an exaggeration.  She was absolutely stuffed!  A very good reward for a very good effort.  She preserved my dignity, if not at least my luck, among these other experienced falconers.
Here was our hawking party for the day, excepting Rich who was taking the picture.  Donna is on the far left, with Bill to her left.  As we finished up the day, I made sure Andy had contact information from Donna to the Nebraska Falconry Club.  It was a very good way to finish up our hunting portion of the 2012 NAFA Meet in Kearney, Nebraska.

NAFA Field Meet Day #3 (for us) Thursday Nov. 22

Falconry wise, Thursday was a wash . . . . and frankly, I was pretty pissy about it.  Both of my girls were 'bowling balls' . . . . way too overweight, and there were 40 mph winds that it just was not a good day for them.  However, we were able to make up for it due to others at the meet who did have animals (dogs and birds) that could be hunted.  We had a window of opportunity in the morning before the noon Thanksgiving meal (ya, it was Thanksgiving).  I had tickets for Rich and I so at least we would have a feast since I pulled him away from home and his family who always have a big get-together for the holidays.  While my birds observed a 'religious hawk holiday' ~ weathering and NO SOUP FOR THEM, we went to be flushers, or at least observers for others.

We did manage to get invited to join a team of lurchers.  A lurcher, per Wikipedia, and also an older falconer that I asked, is usually a cross-breed between some kind of a sight hound, and another dog, possibly terrier, possibly herder, to produce a dog with excellent speed used to run down prey.  The two lurchers we got to watch, along with a little terrier named 'Sniff', worked the brush and did kick up a couple bunnies.  Near the end of the time we were with them they did catch two bunnies, but not in an all out run.  We missed that because we left early!  We discovered that we had a flat tire, so we broke away from the group for Rich to change over to my spare.  Fortunately for us (unfortunately for the employees) the local Wal-Mart was open, and we were able to get our tire repaired.  Also, we needed more batteries as everything we had was dead . . . so no pictures of the lurchers or Sniff.  Ah well! 
Later that afternoon I overheard a falconer was going out with his Goshawk.  I quickly asked and was given permission to join them.  It turned out to be a pretty large party come to see 'Hannah' catch a rabbit and make a good attempt at several others.  Her falconer is Paul Domski from New Mexico.  He makes hawk hoods.  I purchased one from him a few years ago for my passage Harris Hawk.  He also has a lurcher who helps out with the hunt, but I did not ask the dog's name.   
The Gos was really nice to see!  I don't often get to see flights with other kinds of birds other than Red Tails and Harris Hawks.  They are very quick off the fist, and can fly down just about anything. 
Here she is with her bunny catch.
The lurcher silhouetted by the setting sun.
I did catch up with Dave on this day, but only for awhile as he again headed out to Kansas to chase jack rabbits, of which he and his friend brought a fair number to the bag.  His Red Tail this year, trapped last year, is Hawquila.  She flies at 1480!!  That's HUGE!  Hit Girl flies around 1300 give or take, and she's considered a big girl.  Hawquila is a MONSTER!!  Dave says she wraps up jackrabbits just like they were cottontails.  She's practically a small eagle! 
A nice picture of her looking like a Golden Eagle!
We also saw Jeff Redig from the Minnesota Club.  He posed with 'Mikey', his Sharpshin.  That is, I think it is a Sharpie.  Maybe a Coops.  How about it Jeff?  If you see this, let me know. 
We went back to our hotel after it got dark, and chose to not go to the social.  I wanted an early start on Friday, the last day of the meet.  My girls had some ground to make up for . . . and I was determined to take home more than just one Nebraska bunny.

NAFA Field Meet Day #2 (for us) Wednesday Nov. 21

Our second full meet day in Kearney (on Wednesday) was spent mostly driving around looking for possible locations to hunt.  We followed a lead up North, looking for a field where there might be squirrels, but upon finding it no one at the house answered the door.  We did select a different farm yard which turned out to be a really good location!  I don't have pictures here, but do have some on our last day as we did return, so I'll tell more about the landowner's then.  Suffice to say, despite the warmth (low 70s) and the high wind, I consider Hit Girl to have caught her second rabbit, although it did not come to the bag.  We were flushing bunnies across this grassy valley, and the daughter who lives there asked if she could let one of her dogs do some flushing.  Hit Girl has never flown with a dog, but I thought it would be a good chance to try.  The young lady indicated she had really good control of her dog, Zeus, a pit bull . . . and she did.  However, when we flushed a bunny, and Hit Girl stooped and caught it, and bunny cried out, Zeus thought that was just too much fun, and he ran in on the hawk, who released her bunny and flew up to a pole and sulked for 10 minutes.  The bunny got away.  After she got her beak out of her snit, and the dog was put back in the house, we flew some more, but no further catches.  After securing names and phone numbers, I was invited to come back later in the week. 
Rich and I drove around a bit looking for someplace for Sassy to be flown.  We found a spot that I thought would probably be game-poor, but at least she could stretch her wings, and it was motly out of the view of the public.  When we returned to the meet weathering yard to collect her, we met the two gentlemen above who were in town purchasing a plane, a corporate jet, for their company.  Really!  They asked if they could see Sassy fly, and I said 'sure'!  As suspected, the place I chose did not have much in the way of game.  We did kick up a covey of quail, but they simply fly too fast to be caught by the Harris Hawk.  We did push a marsh, which kicked out one bunny, but Sassy did not catch it.  Mostly, again, they just got a good flying show.  In the middle above is Rob Binder from Vancouver, Canada.  On the right is Dave Grieve, from Powell River, Canada.  Thank you gentlemen for coming out and taking a walk with us.  Sorry you didn't get to see more of a show, but that is why it is called 'hunting'.
Rich and I returned to our room to clean up, and attended the conference that evening.  The guest speaker was a young lady, falconer, who spent a year in Mongolia learning eagle falconry.  She was a very interesting speaker, and afterwards Rich and I won a few items on the raffle table.  Nothing too exciting, but I have a new shirt, and he has another hat.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

NAFA Field Meet Day #1 (for us) Tuesday Nov. 20

After working the weekend, both Richard and I, we got up early on Monday November 19 to drive the 8 hours to get to Kearney, Nebraska, the location of the 2012 NAFA Field Meet.  This is only the second time I've been able to attend, and Richard's first.  The drive was uneventful, and we arrived in time to sit in on the first evening's program.  There was a raffle almost every night, but nothing really interested me that first night.  I saw and talked to a few people that I knew.  We were quite ready for our bed that night to get an early start.  Oh, and the manager of the hotel we were staying at (we had a room at a cheaper but still closely located hotel not a part of the conference center) had family with land that we were given permission to fly on our first day (Tuesday).  Our room was smallish, but comfortable, and the price could not be beat!  Free breakfast every morning!
The first stop on our first day was the weathering yard.  I set up both my perches with bath pans, and tied both birds out for awhile as we tidied up their giant hoods, went and registered, and generally got a feel for how things would flow during the week.  There were many Red Tails, and several Harris Hawks, to include a juvenile that cried almost as much as Sassy did, only in a higher pitched voice.  There were several Goshawks, and at least one Coopers that I saw.  The far side of the yard, by this picture above, was were all the falcons were tethered.  I am not very good at identifying the various breeds, and would recommend you link from my page to a blog called "Fly Over Country".  The falconer there, who I met on Friday, has taken far nicer pictures of many of the falcons, and has descriptions of what some of them are. 
There were three Golden Eagles, who were tied out in a separate area, with a blocked view from the rest of the yard, to prevent the birds from seeing each other.  The eagle may consider those other birds to be 'lunch' . . . and those other birds would be freaked out to be so near the eagles.  The falconers of the eagles did not spend much time at the meet, instead making forays down into Kansas where jack rabbits can be found.  For that matter, Dave Noble was also down in Kansas most of the time with his good buddy Danny chasing jack rabbits with their birds.
An unusual resident of the weathering yard, also separated from the main yard, was this Eurasian Eagle Owl, the largest owl in Europe, and maybe the world, coming very close to the size of the Great Horned Owl.  There was also a Snowy Owl, but I never saw that bird in the yard.
There were many beautiful falcons, to include this Gyrfalcon above. Below is one of the Merlins in attendance.
Once we took care of meet business for ourselves, and contacted the folks who were going to go with us on the first hunt, we headed out.  Our host was David Holl, a Kearney native, and manager of the hotel we were staying at.  He took us on a long drive to one of his uncle's farmsteads.  The house looks like it has not been lived in for awhile, and the farm was once used to grow poultry.  For now it is idle, and the haunt of bunnies.  We found several on the property, and a good show was given by Hit Girl.  Rich took a good GoPro video, and I will be loading that up here shortly.  Hit Girl scored her first bunny of the meet in a rather difficult catch.  We were joined in the hunt with Bill Oakes and his wife Marcie.  Bill was sort of a co-sponsor for me when I first started falconry.  He lived fairly near to where I was living when I was learning from Dave Noble, and we three hunted together often.  He was with us when I trapped my first bird.  In fact, the mews that I currently use for Hit Girl, though altered some a bit now, was build by him, and purchased from him.  It has moved with me from Central Wisconsin, to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Abilene, Texas, back to Spring Grove, Minnesota, and now to St. Charles, MN.  I think this next year it is going to be retired, but it has served me well, and kept many of my hawks safe.
It was fun hunting with Bill . . . he has a pleasant sense of humor!  It's also nice when your bird performs well for guests, and for former mentors.
Here Hit Girl poses with me and David.  Don't you think he kinda looks like Adam Savage from Mythbusters? After we chased around all the bunnies at the first farm, David took us to another location which was not as successful.  We were looking for squirrels in the windbreak at the edge of the field, but found none.  Upon moving closer to the farm, I flushed a big cat, which Hit Girl chased back towards the house, veering off at the very end, as the farmer's wife came running out.  I'm glad we were with family members, and that the cat was not caught.  That could have been bad!  With few more flushes, I called her down and we ended her flight for the day.
Later we re-joined up with David to fly Sassy.  He took us to his home which is on the edge of town.  Sassy was not at the best weight, and we fought weight control all week for on Tuesday and Wednesday it got up into the 70s (really).  Sassy gave a good show for the uninformed, flying a lot and stooping, but she was not really focused or serious.  We must have flushed some 10 to 12 bunnies, and she didn't come close to any of them.  There was also a very large brush pile which they all eventually took refuge in.  As the day was ending I called her down and we were done with the first day.  The Tuesday evening program was just a business meeting, so we skipped that and returned to our room to get some rest for the next day.

Here is the video, which has been loaded out on YouTube. It is somewhat long, but not nearly as long as the full clip. Rich edited it for me. Thanks Rich!! You're a Sweetie!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Rich and I are in Kearney, Nebraska for the 2012 North American Falconer's Association meet.  The International Association of Falconry is also meeting here.  We drove in today, with only a little time to try to fly Sassy.  Only one bunny flushed, and it escaped rather quickly into a huge brush pile.  We hope to fly both girls tomorrow and earn game pins.

OK . . . it has been a long day . . . time to get some sleep.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mini Meeting Meet

It was a really nice day on Saturday, November 10.  It started out a bit wet and gloomy, but the sun eventually broke through and warmed everything into the 60s.  The Minnesota Falconers were meeting in the home of a member who lives in New Prague.  That being just about 2 hours from my home, I decided I would attend today, being off from work.  I also invited Greg to come along so he could meet some other falconers, and hopefully get to see some other, different species of birds hunt.  We made an early start of it planning to do a little trapping along the way, but there were just not any passage birds to be found.  The only one we did spot was just a few miles from our destination, and we were getting close to meeting time, so we did not make too much an effort to trap it.  We did bait the trap, but on first attempt to drop it the bird bumped.  It did not fly very far, but I decided we really didn't have time to play with it.

Many of the people who gathered today were either soon-to-be apprentices or wanna-be apprentices.  The host of our meeting flies a falcon, and I am remiss here for not having gotten a picture of her.  Her name is Eowyn.  We were shown her equipment and mews/weathering yard.  She was flown later in the day, not with the group, but we were out with another falconer and her red tail so missed the action.  I was offered the opportunity to fly my girls first, so that is exactly what we did.

Our first stop was a thin brushy area right in town, squeezed between some industrial buildings and a farm field.  These kinds of places are just perfect as the crops are down, and what bunnies may be present will find refuge in the trees and grass.  Also, these places tend to attract the town folks to dump brush in them, which make nice bunny refuges.  The group fanned out and began beating brush and stomping piles.  Sassy followed along very nicely, as she does.  About halfway into the stretch of trees someone hollared out a "ho-ho", Sassy launched, and we had bunny #1 for the day.  I traded her off and let her crop up on what I had on the lure for her.  Being guests I did not want to be greedy and snatch up all the rabbits in this location.  I asked if we could relocate for Hit Girl and perhaps chase some squirrels.  The answer was yes, and after some pictures, we loaded up and caravaned to the next site.
The next location was also quite perfect.  It was an isolated patch of woods surrounded by open field, with some grassy prairie-type grass to one side.  The picture above is at the end of a road leading right up to the patch, which makes for perfect parking.  For the sake of the falconers who live in the area, I hope the "Future Thru Street" does not happen.  Hit Girl was deadly serious as I released her . . . so much so that she had her first kill within minutes.  As we entered the woods she focused in on a squirrel up a tree.  Everyone gathered around and started to whack the tree.  The squirrel made a break for it, Hit Girl pursued, squirrel bailed out of the tree, and had hawk all over it when it hit the ground.  Because it was all so fast, I was encouraged to send her back up and try some more.  There was another squirrel up the same tree.  After 'rebooting' her (hooding and waiting for a rouse) she was sent back up.  She did pursue that squirrel some, but then it was able to flee into a leaf nest, which she did not see it duck into, and she does not know about leaf nests.  I hope some day she may learn.  We then moved out and flushed some bunnies.  The continuation of the hunt then lasted about 15 to 20 minutes, with a bunny catch at the end.  With all their success I declared it an end of their hunting and cropped Hit Girl up and put them away, after a couple pictures.
One of the falconers who came had the above Coopers Hawk, as well as the Goshawk below.  I would have liked to have seen them hunt, but their falconer was unsure if they would, and indicated his birds tend to not like too large crowds.  I decided then to instead follow a different falconer who would fly her tiercel red tail.
The tiercel had an opportunity at several bunnies, but came up short.  He did catch a vole.  I failed to get his picture with his falconer as well.  As the evening was winding down the young lady below, Spencer, asked if she could hold Sassy.  Sassy is cool with such things, so we got a picture of the two of them together.  Spencer wants to grow up to become a law enforcement officer in New York City.  Might be tough to have a hawk in the big city, unless she trains it to fly down criminals!  Good Luck with your dreams Spencer!
As it was getting late, Greg and I needed to get on the road home.  We decided however we did have enough time to stop by the host falconer's home for some quick dinner and a drink.

A really nice day in New Prague!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Day

The day started off early.  We got up and took care of all the usual morning duties, then headed uptown to cast our votes, this being election day.  There were no long lines for us, but they made us register AGAIN, even though we registered almost as soon as we took possession of our new home, two months ago, and had little cards to prove it.  Our names did not appear on their list.  Makes me wonder when these lists are printed.  Despite being a technologically advanced country, our voting system still seems to be pretty archaic.  After our civic duty was performed we packed up our stuff and headed to the Farm for some laundry, and hawking.
Hit Girl was first up today . . . and was she ever first!  We flew her in the park in Spring Grove.  Upon our arrival we discovered four deer carcases hanging from a tree next to a hunter's camp.  The park in Spring Grove does have a small area for camping, which is usually not used.  This being the start of the deer gun season, some hunters were utilizing it for that purpose.  Their hunts were happening elsewhere, but the results of the hunt were hanging.  The hunters never made an appearance, most likely diligently trying to add to the four on the tree.  Hit Girl eyed the deer some, but was never tempted to go investigate. 

We did launch her at a tree that must have had four or five squirrels in it.  They had been foraging on the ground, but as we proceeded to get the hawk out and geared up, and walked their way, they scampered up.  However, it did them very little good.  Hit Girl was determined she was eating something fresh today.  She engaged the squirrels quickly, and before too many minutes was on the ground with her catch for the day.  I traded her off onto some food on the lure, and decided I would fly her some more because she really had not had enough exercise.  The trade went poorly, and she proceeded to sulk for about 15 minutes, not engaging any more squirrels for that time.  We mostly walked around the park tapping trees for her but she didn't seem too interested.  After awhile the sulking stopped, so like to a teenager they are, and she got back into the game.
Her squirrel catch seemed to be "rappin" that it was "chillin".  Well, it was "chillin" now, being dead.
She really is quite a big girl!  Her temper seems to be somewhat modified this year, as she is not as pushy and aggressive as she was last year, but still having her moments.  We continued the hunt, and after her sulk, we did get in some more squirrel chases and wing workout for her.  A second squirrel was not brought to the bag.  After her hunt we took a quick picture as Rich's brother Brian was along and could catch Rich in with me.

We got Sassy out after Hit Girl, but she made an absolute bee-line towards the hanging deer, and then discovered there was a gut pile in the woods behind it.  It looked like perfectly good food to her!  I was glad the hunters never came around as I had to get near their deer to dissuade Sassy from her goal and bring her back to the fist.  No flying for her on this day.  We fed her and returned to the farm.

The evening was spent watching the results of the election, and finishing up our laundry.  I am pleased with the outcome, for many reasons.  I do not express much if any of my political views here on this blog, and I know my relatives on my side of the family don't care for the outcome . . . but I also know they almost never come out here and read my blog.  I also don't care what they think about me!  I've been an odd duck to my family, and many times to society in general, for a long time.  Thankfully for me I have found a wonderful husband who loves me, despite my obsession for big dangerous birds with sharp beaks and pointy toes, and does not mind the dead bodies in the refrigerator.    ♥  Love ya Rich!! 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

She Makes it Look Sooooooooo Easy!

I was off on a rare Friday.  Normally I work just about every Friday, but due to a switch in the schedule with a co-worker I worked on Thursday, and found myself off on the Friday.  Hawking was certainly planned for the day . . . but where??  On the late morning I got a call from Greg, indicating he was also done with his work for the day, and could he come over and see my mews.  Greg has decided that he most definitely wants to pursue his license, and his enthusiasm indicates he may have the drive to accomplish it.  I invited him to come on over, and after showing off my facilities, we headed back to his place with the girls.

Hit Girl got first shot this morning, as she needs the practice.  Greg has a nice stretch of woods, with a good half of it covered in very thick briar and bramble.  We worked that half first, stumbling through the thick raspberry thickets, not flushing any bunnies, but engaging several squirrels, and picking up a goodly number of the pokey seed heads.  See all those dark dots on my white shirt?  As I write this it is about 10 days after this hunt and I still have not plucked all those briars off my shirt.  Greg called me the 'Briar Queen'.  Hit Girl got some pretty good exercise in, and chased several squirrels and crashed brush a few times, but was not successful.  Her weight was good for the day, but not excellent, which may account for the lack of that extra umph that would have made the difference.  After working the brush for about an hour for her we put her up and got Sassy out. 

For Sassy we walked to the other side of his property, where we had flown previously.  We were not long into the trip when we kicked up a bunny.  Sassy was not well placed, but did pursue it as it ran up and over the hill.  We followed, and after a few minutes, and at some distance, she crashed the brush again catching the rabbit above.  I've warned Greg that she is making it look really easy.  What we went through before with Hit Girl often is the way many hunts go.  This makes bunny #4 for Sassy . . . it looks like it will be a Great Hawking Season!