Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hawk Fishing . . . and a new Apprentice

Many years ago I assembled my own bow netting blind equipment with a lot of help from Richard. Bow netting is different from trapping with a bal chatri (BC) as you must lure the hawks to you, rather than driving around the countryside looking for hawks to trap.  It really can be considered "Hawk Fishing".

This year I added a new piece of equipment, with a brand new bow net made by Dave Noble.  He has just started making them, and I must say, it was a great purchase!  If you are a falconer and are in the market either for outstanding bells or a new bow net, go visit his site and check out his products.

Bow Netting can be tricky, because you really need a good location.  Some of the best sites have been set up by falconers in years gone by, and the trapping blinds are handed down the generations.  I am basing most of what I know from Dave's setup.  He was my former sponsor.  He has an outstanding location overlooking the Mississippi and a yearly improving trapping blind, which has netted him countless red tailed hawks, several peregrine falcons, and other assorted raptors.

I was kindly given permission from a co-worker who owns with her husband a large parcel of land that her husband farms.  It is not right on the Mississippi River, but is within a few miles, and is in bluff country.  The trapping location is on the top of the bluff.  I would go on to have some success at the site, trapping several birds (all male), but eventually it would be a reliable BC that would snag my new companion.

I was accompanied on the first day by my new apprentice, Foxfeather (yes, that really is her name).  We trapped this little guy, but let him go right away as I want her to start off her apprenticeship with a female red tailed hawk.  A female hawk will really teach the new apprentice respect.  However, Fox has had lots of bird experience prior to her finally being able to take the leap into falconry.  She has a very strong grasp of operant conditioning, focusing exclusively with the rewarding for positive behavior, and ignoring negative.  She has an extensive collection of animals on her farm, and she trains all of them, including the yaks.  She is going to make for a great apprentice, as she already has a firm foundation in handling raptors, and even has more experience in areas than I do.  She helped me to do some beak trimming for my two Harris Hawks.  She has previously taken the raptor handling and care class at the Raptor Center, and has had more contact time for this task, and tools.  After all, she makes her living as an artist and sculptor, so trimming beaks is just another medium to work with and carve.

She made this little video of the release of that male.  However, you have to be in Facebook to play it.  Foxloft

We called it quits on the hillside after a morning of trapping as she had to get home to do some tasks.  However, on the way to her home we buzzed through Rochester a bit at some of the areas I have seen hawk activity, and there, just outside of town, we located this pretty girl.  She made hawk trapping with a BC look soooooo easy, as between the time I spotted her and we had her in hand, it was probably about 10 minutes.

We would return to Fox's home and proceed through some of the first manning steps.  Fox would go on to take it from there, and make very good progress with her.  She has turned out to be a rather nice hawk, as hawks go.  It is quite possible it also has a lot to do with the trainer.

Fox has named her Arya, from Game of Thrones.  It's a good name!

I'm glad we found her partner quickly so she can get going with the training.  I would go on for a couple more weeks before I would find mine.

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