This most recent weekend I made a visit to my friend Brandon, on the right below. I've known Brandon for many years, and he wants to keep in touch with me as some day he may pursue falconry. For now, he has his plate very full of family and career training. He has been pursuing education at the community college, and now recently has joined the police academy. Soon, he will graduate and he hopes find employment enforcing the laws around his home town. His ultimate dream is to incorporate his other passion, working dog training. Brandon has several working dogs, Malinois, and trains often with K9 handlers and officers.
The following day I met up with Greg and Justin for hawking of all of our birds. Sassy was too far overweight from my allowing her to enjoy her second catch, but CC was close, and I figured would be good if she hunted later in the day. I joined the guys just a little late, as I was fairly stiff this morning from the previous day's activities. I fear I am getting some of my mother's arthritis, although not the same type. Some days are more slowly started than others.
We began at a brushy spot behind one of the local elementary schools not far from where Greg lives. It has a few bush piles that have produced bunnies, but more reliably has squirrels. Greg's bird, which as far as I know still really doesn't have a name, other than hollared expletives when she is not performing, was hunting first. She chased a few squirrels some, but did a lot of perching and foot-tucking too, as I don't think she was quite ready to hunt. Greg called her down and Justin's red tail, Chomps, was given a chance. Justin's red tail also gets to hunt with his Jack Russel Terrier, Lucy. Lucy is quite an asset in the field, and motivates me to see if I can get Monty to perform better. He has shown he can be trained, I just don't know if he has as much spunk and hunt drive like Lucy has. She rooted herself into a very large brush pile, but apparently no one was home, as no bunnies busted. We decided to pack up and relocate. Also, Sue invited us to chase her abundant squirrels outside her home, and tempted us with fresh brownies.
After brownies and hot beverages were enjoyed, Greg's bird was given a second chance. She had produced a large slice in her box (hawk poo for you non-falconry types out there), so was now in a better head for hunting. We were after a particularly bossy squirrel that Sue called "the King", as it appears to rule the yard and bird feeder. Well, the King lost his crown, as fairly quickly Greg's bird de-throned him. Greg's hawk has turned into a pretty good squirrel hawk. She's gotten a lot of bites for her efforts, but has also added a lot of game to the freezer for the summer. That accomplished we moved as a group to another location in the La Crescent area that Justin told us about.
I've never hawked at this location that Justin took us to, but I have been to it. Turns out, it is one of the stops Rich and I make on our annual Frog and Toad Survey. Of course, during that survey it is springtime, and dark, and we don't go out and walk all around the marsh. Justin's bird Chomps flew again, and we also got to see Lucy doing what she does so very good at. It was not long before another bunny was in the bag.
At this point we decided to pack up and go check out Sprague Woods, in Caledonia. CC would fly first. We were joined by Justin's sister and husband. CC was ready to hunt now, and in good time, put bunny #7 in the bag. After putting her away, Justin's gos came out, and within 3 minutes took another rabbit from this field. That bird is just soooooo fast! Justin has done a really good job training and flying her. He's thinking about looking for nests and pulling another for this next season. I think he's rather crazy . . . but that is usually a good quality for a falconer.
Our Group after CC's catch.
A quick video of that previous catch.
Greg's son, Brady, comes along from all of his hunts and helps out quite a bit . . . although it looks like it is most likely going to be his daughter, Isabelle, who may try to get her license next. She wants to fly a kestrel.