It’s been a long, slow summer without a bird. After fattening her up for a month, I released Jebe at the end of March. While I didn’t catch nearly as much game as I would have liked, I think the season was a success. Through the ordeal of getting her to jump to the fist, to tending a mysterious wing injury, to figuring out her ideal hunting weight, to finally putting a squirrel and rabbit in the bag I learned a lot. For her part, Jebe survived the winter and was fat enough upon release to survive for at least a few days or a week without having to worry about catching a meal.
The Arkansas Hawking Association held their annual summer picnic in June. Sarah and I took Vaun this year. The four hour drive turned into a five hour drive after we fed Vaun and had to stop to calm him down once. It was great to see everyone again, but it was swelteringly hot and humid. It rained hard for a few minutes, which cut the heat while it came down, but ended up just making the humidity worse. Vaun did not have a good time and Sarah had to sit with him in the car with the A/C blowing while I ran the raffle. The raffle went off well, though I didn’t realize I was in charge of bringing bags and tickets as well as all of the donated items. Luckily for me, we made due with some plastic solo cups and someone else brought the extra raffle tickets from last year. I ended up making out like a bandit and won, among other things, a Merlin telemetry transmitter and two red-tail sized hoods. I felt kind of bad because I organized the raffle and won so much, but sometimes you just get lucky.
I also upgraded to general class this summer. It’s a bit of a relief because I don’t know when I’ll get a job and move from Arkansas and I didn’t want to have to deal with finding a new sponsor in a new state. It also means I can fly any bird except eagles. I’d like to move toward accipiters, especially sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks. First, though, I’d like to trap and train a kestrel to get practice with such tight weight management before I have to deal with the weight and behavioral difficulties of an accipiter. I’d like to build a small indoor enclosure for a kestrel, but it’s been in the mid to upper 90’s here for the last month, which means the garage is over 100°F, even at night or in the morning, and simply unbearable to work in. Hopefully it will cool off soon. I still have a few months before I really get into trapping, so I’ve got a bit of time left to get everything together.