Ogedei finally caught something! It was an eastern woodrat- not exactly the pinnacle of dirt hawking, but at this point I’ll take it.
I drove 45 minutes to a field in the Ozark National Forest I remembered seeing during field work. It’s a powerline cut for some high-voltage wires. I was a bit worried about the wires but they’re spaced pretty far apart and hang under the towers, so I didn’t think they would be too big of a problem. Once I let Ogedei go he flew to the trees next to the field and never gave the towers a second look.
The field looked pretty good. I found fresh rabbit sign immediately – there was a light dusting of snow that fell this morning, so I knew the tracks were at most a few hours old. There were pellets all around that hadn’t frozen yet too.
I followed the first set of tracks for a while but they ended in a hole. I never saw the rabbit and suspect it was gone before we got out of the car.
I tried to follow a second set of tracks but they circled around on themselves and I couldn’t figure out where they went. After half an hour of beating the grass and brush I came upon a tangle of honeysuckle with some rabbit tracks going in and out of it. I kicked the tangle and Ogedei crashed into the top of it. He didn’t get very far in so I picked him up. He was very intent on something so I cast him into a tree and jumped into the honeysuckle. He crashed into it again and worked his way to the bottom of the pile. I saw the woodrat at that point run through the snow. Ogedei hopped/crawled through the tangle as I tried to flush the rat towards him. At some point he made his way to the top of the honeysuckle again, launched into a short wingover and crashed into the top again. I shook the bushes a bit more and realized he wasn’t moving. I untangled myself from the pile and saw he nailed the woodrat. It never made a sound or struggled, he had it by the head. At that point Ogedei either fell backwards through the honeysuckle or purposely tried to work to the bottom of the tangle. He ended up getting caught up in some branches but I freed him to feed on the rat.