Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Very Cold

The last couple of weeks we've had a bit of an arctic blast descend over us from out of Canada.  I guess we can count ourselves lucky, in that we didn't get the blanket of snow that a lot of the states down South got (New Mexico, Colorado, Texas).  It sounds like the NAFA meet got a lot of snow to start things off.  We didn't plan to attend, so I'm just hearing about the hawking adventures on Facebook through my friends who did go.  I have tried to get out a couple times, but it has been challenging, as it has been single digits, with WIND.  Brrrrrrr.

On Tuesday, November 26 we did take my new friend Janelle out to tromp through some woods with Sassy.  Janelle grew up just outside of Rochester, and knows lots of people with land.  We were hunting in a wood lot owned by one of her neighbors.  Inside the wood lot it was tolerable, once you got moving and got warmed up.  Regardless of the multiple layers of clothing I was wearing, there was a substantial wind, especially felt outside of the wood lot, so we did not stay out in the open much.  This temperature range is just about almost out of Sassy's tolerance level.  However, she hadn't been flown for several days, and was game to try.
We looped around the lot, and made our way across the creek that winds through it, and were making our way up the hill when Rich flushed a bunny.  Sassy was all over it.  He did catch it on his GoPro, and I may post a video, but will not show the entire clip of the action, as bunny is crying quite a bit before I could get there. 

I'm wanting to limit posting some of the coverage we capture, as I don't want to leave 'fuel' out on the Internet for people who may be adverse to the killing of small game with a trained raptor.  It is a blood sport, although what we are killing is food for the birds, and dispatched as quickly as I can.  However, in the excitement of the moment I also tend to laugh at enjoyment of a fine gamehawk doing what their instincts and training direct them to do, and which I'm delighted to get to participate in.  The laughing may sound like I'm enjoying the death of the small animal, which is not the reason at all.

We did kick up another bunny on our long way back to the car, but it escaped our efforts to catch it.  Janelle had a good day out with us, and I've promised her that I'll be happy to go out hunting throughout the winter with her and her son.  How could I possibly say 'no', when she will get me access to lots of new places to hunt. 
This previous Sunday I went out hawking with Greg, his son Brady, and his bird, Desper.  It was also a fairly cold day, but not as much wind.  We explored a few places not far from his house, and did provide a few slips for Desper, but no game was brought to the bag.  I did have my two birds along for the ride, but just ran out of daylight.  Besides, I was wanting to give Desper more opportunity, as she needs some more successes to cement her gamebird status.  She has caught a rabbit and a squirrel, as well as some miscellaneous stuff.  She flew pretty good, and followed for the most part.  As the day wore on, I think she was beginning to lose focus, so we called her down.  We also wanted to get back to Greg's house with some daylight left, as he and Brady would go out for awhile onto their land and sit and wait for deer.  This is Brady's first year that he could try for a deer, and he is terribly excited by the prospect.  Believe me, it was mostly what we heard from him all morning.
I'm also including this pic from a couple weeks ago.  Justin came over and helped to install backpacks to Greg's bird Desper, and my two Harris Hawks.  Justin is becoming quite the skilled falconer, and networking and making contacts, and perfecting his skills.  After this picture was taken, he went out West to Kansas with Dave and a few of Dave's friends and got to hunt for jackrabbits.  Justin's bird this year, Chomps, took two of those giant bunnies.  I've only had the opportunity to try for jacks twice in the years I've been in this sport, and I've never caught one.  They just don't occur in this area.  I am aware that they can be found out in Western Minnesota, and some time I may plan a trip there to see if I can find any.  For now, I just have to hear about the adventures of others.

Where is Wasp, you may ask!  Well, it has been so terribly cold, I can't fly him.  I can feel his shivering through my glove.  I'm needing to explore other ways to hunt him.  Perhaps some car hawking.  Or I might just have to wait until we have warmer days, which now may not be until Spring.  I'd like to explore his chasing bunnies.  I did fly him last week, and he started to wander and not respond to the lure.  We found him on the ground, shivering.  It was just too cold for him, and I hope that is what was his distraction.  Down in Texas, I got lucky and discovered packrats, which became our preferred quarry.  I need to find an acceptable prey species for him, barring our very cold winters.  I might have to make him more of a fall/spring bird, and maybe into summer if I can get him on birds.  We certainly have plenty of starlings, house sparrows and pigeons. 

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