Saturday, January 18, 2014

Minnesota Falconers Mini-Meet

On Saturday, January 11th there was a Mini-Meet in Rochester of the Minnesota Falconers.  It was proposed and organized primarily by Lena Stans, one member of a falconry family in Rochester.  I found out about the meet, found out who was organizing it, arranged to meet her, and offered to help out.  For my part, I got some land permission, and then also took a big group to go out with us.  The hawks flown in our group were Chomps, flown by Justin, Desper, flown by Greg, and my own Sassy.  I also brought Wasp along, but it never got warm enough to let him out.  It was a very fun day, and every hawk brought game to the bag.

I'd like to thank Kirk Payne for some of these pictures.  He is an instructor and naturalist who works with Quarry Hill Nature Center.  He is also a falconer who is sponsoring several members of Lena's family.  There were several people along with very nice cameras.  Kirk was kind enough to share some of his pics and gave permission to post to my blog.

Over the last couple years, since Richard comes along just about all the time, and I rely on him to take pictures and GoPro clips, I forget to make sure I document our adventures.  I failed to get a group shot of all the people that came along.  It was quite a gathering.  Special thanks to Janelle, for helping me get private land permission.  Also, thanks to Janelle's friend Joe, and his neighbor Mr. Zimmermann, for letting us tromp on their land.
Justin started the morning off.  Chomps took us through the woods with several squirrel flights, but the tree rats all managed to find escape holes.  We then looped around the wood lot, eventually kicking up a rabbit which was caught.
The group gathered around, especially this young man who had never seen falconry.  He seemed particularly interested in watching the action.
The picture below demonstrates something that happened several times during our meet.  I highly recommend having multiple young persons along when hawking.  They so easily can be coaxed to get up on top of brush piles and stomp them, and to run around things to flush critters back your way, and generally expend an awful lot more energy than we boring (and sometimes stiff and sore) adults want to.
After Chomps got her bunny Greg got Desper out to try her luck.  She didn't catch anything at this first location that we were at, but she did give several opportunities for the Paparazzi to take her picture.
After chasing a few more bunnies around, and giving them a chance to practice running to their escape holes, we assembled for some pictures before moving to the next location.  Greg posed with Desper.
I posed with Sassy.
I then also posed with Wasp, who was not flown as he really needs mid 30s.  I could feel him shivering through my gauntlet.
We relocated to a different, undisclosed location.  I consider the spot we were at to be pretty much my second best location for bunnies in the Rochester area.  We must have flushed at least 12 or so while there.  This spot is right in town, near some industrial and retail areas.  We also found what appeared to be some stolen and stashed merchandise (some power drills).  While distracted and looking at them, a bunny was flushed, and Sassy caught it when no one was looking.  I fed her up and decided she was done for the day.  She seemed happy with that decision.
Greg got Desper out and tried again.  This time she did catch one of those multiple bunnies we flushed.  Always, his son Brady helps out.  His daughter Belle is also usually not far away.
After returning to the cars she's posing with the family hawk.
The group with us seemed to have a very fun afternoon.  All hawks were successful, and returned to their giant hoods unharmed.
Everyone Take A Bow!
Much of the group disbanded after this field.  A few of us went to try a new location, which shows promise, but is still rather thick and could be difficult.  By that time I was wet and tired, and wanted to get home to get cleaned up (and warm and dry) to go to dinner.  Justin chased the sun for one last field, where he did catch another bunny.

We met back with other members of the Club for Bar-B-Que, to hear how the other teams did, and then share the company of those also afflicted with our obsession.  It was a really fun day!


  1. i've noticed with my Harris anything below 30 and its really not worth going out.

  2. Is Wasp a harris hawk then? Sorry I stumbled across your site and am impressed. would you like a person with a camera to come hang out and take pictures? I think that would be great!

  3. Hello Red Hawk! To further chat about hanging out with the hawks (and the falconers) please e-mail me at I have been fortunate to have had many photographers go out in the field with us over the years, and their willingness to share their work. I always give full credit to those who have the great cameras and capture the action, and share. Thank you!