Tag Archives: Ogedei

Releasing Ögedei

I’ve been meaning to write this post for the last few months but just haven’t gotten around to it.  I applied to a job and Cleveland at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, which took some effort getting to material and letters together, and then we found out my wife is pregnant, so I’ve been putting in as much time at work as possible trying to get ahead of everything.

Anyway.  I stopped hunting Ogedei at the end of February when rabbit and squirrel seasons closed.  I started feeding him one and a half to double rations a day in two feedings.  He put on a lot of weight and got quite sassy after three weeks.  I didn’t really realize how much he’d reverted until it was the day I was going to release him.  I could not for the life of me get Ogedei into the giant hood.  I ended up removing all of the perches except the window perch.  I chased him and he ran around on the floor, landed on my head, flew to the perch.  Rinse, repeat.  Finally he made the mistake of flying into the equipment room, which is only 4’x8′.  I closed the door to the mews and finally cornered him.  I ended up grabbing him around the wings and body and putting him head first into the giant hood.  I closed the door enough he couldn’t get out but left enough room and light he could turn around.  After he was situated I closed the hood and loaded him into the car.

The release spot I picked was a 45 minute drive away along an overgrown power line cut in the Ozark National Forest.  I opened the giant hood and expected him to bolt out, but he didn’t.  Ten seconds rolled by and then Blam!  A rush of feathers and he was off.  Ogedei perched in a tree 50 yards away or so and seemed quite content.  We watched him for a few minutes and I said my goodbyes.  I whirled a dead quail around, made sure it had his attention, and threw it to the base of the tree he was in.  We drove off after that; I don’t know if he decided to take my last gift, but I like to think he did.

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The last shot I have of Ogedei

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Here he is if you couldn’t tell from the last shot

Since I released Ogedei, the summer has been pretty boring, at least as falconry goes. The only thing that really happened is that I cleaned the mews, which took the better part of the morning.  I pulled out the rubber mats and wetted them down to loosen the dried whitewash, then scrubbed them off in the yard.  After they were set out to dry I did the same thing with the inside of the mews.  I did all of that with a paper mask on to reduce the chance of catching a respiratory illness, what with the aerated water droplets floating around after contacting bird poop.

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Scrubbing the rubber matting and perches down

Other than that, there’s reading books, waiting for the AHA summer picnic, cruising the falconry forums, and waiting until next season.

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End of the Season

As the end of rabbit season approached (Feb. 28), I tried to get in as much hunting time as possible.  Cody sent me a message, said he and Bob would be in Fort Smith the week before the end of the season and invited me to come hunting.  I jumped on the opportunity and took a morning off of work.  We met near the Ft. Smith airport around 9 am (I was running 30 minutes behind, whoops) and I loaded Ogedei and my gear into their truck.  It seemed fitting to end the season in the same back seat I started it off in when I trapped Ogedei.

We hunted Marge, Cody’s 9 year-old red-tail, first.  She always hunts first and throws a fit in her giant hood if the truck stops and she hears Cody and Bob preparing to hunt without her.  MArgedoesn’t like people other than Bob and Cody in the field, but I hunted with her so Bob thought she might be alright.  I flushed a rabbit 20′ from the truck but Marge was out of position.  She still chased it hard and the flight ended over a small hill out of sight.  After that chase Marge started getting spooky and we eventually decided she was nervous of with me and kept flying away when I approached.  So I went and sat in the truck while they finished the hunt.  I listened to most of an episode of the HPPodcraft while I waited.  Cody reported that Marge missed more rabbit slips than she’s missed all season.  She was harried by a pair of haggard birds and he suspected she may have hit a fence when she chased the first rabbit.

After Cody put Marge away we drove to a nearby field that Bob and Cody had found numerous rabbits in.  I got Ogedei out and he weighed 731g.  Within the first minute we flushed a woodcock and Ogedei launched after it after a second of deliberation.  He flew after it a couple hundred yards but couldn’t connect.  Woodcocks are fast once they’re under way.  Ogedei had good posisiton and had he decided to fly instantly he may have had it, but not after a second or two of deciding.  I’ve heard of and seen photos of red-tails taking woodcocks, but it seems to be uncommon.  I flushed a rabbit in the perfect slip when I went to retrieve Ogedei.  It ran through some thin grass and across some open rocks straight away from where Ogedei had been perched.  If only he hadn’t chased the woodcock…  I called Ogedei came to the glove.  He was a few hundred yards away.  It’s probably partially a problem with my training, but he refuses that kind of distance without a tidbit.  He can be stubborn and smart, and once I made the motion of pulling a tidbit from the pocket they’re always in he started coming back even before I blew the whistle.  We kept beating the brush and flushed 7 more woodcocks – Ogedei chased two of them without success – but no more rabbits.  Cody and Bob were really surprised at the lack of rabbits so we packed up and went back to the first location.

Back up in the trees Ogedei made some nice flights at rats, including a really nice waiting-on hovering flight for 10-15 seconds.  He followed along pretty well, though consistently refused the t-pole.  We flushed some rabbits from scrap piles but Ogedei refused to chase most of them.  He made one half-hearted attempt but gave up when it crawled into a junk pile and didn’t chase it on the reflush.  One rabbit even stopped in the open under the tree he was in and Ogedei just looked at it.  I was quite frustrated.  I ended his day by calling him a a hundred and fifty yards to the lure.

Cody and Bob were impressed with how well I’d trained Ogedei.  Cody suggested if I dropped him another 25g if I wanted him to chase rabbits.  They said if he were a female (which fly from 1000-1300g) with the same attention and ability to follow on he’d be banging rabbits left and right, but that as a small male (some males fly at 900g, so at 730 he’s pretty small) he was probably intimidated by  the rabbits.  He was obviously motivated enough to chase the woodcocks and rats that were small enough he thought he could take them, but in order to tackle larger prey he would need some additional motivation in the form of weight reduction.  The problem with that is Ogedei would have a razor-thin keel and no fat reserves if he lost another 25g.  He would be on that line where one missed feeding might push him over the edge and he might not be able to recover.  Some falconers don’t mind flying their birds like that (and Cody and Bob weren’t suggesting that I should, just that if I wanted Ogedei to chase rabbits I could), but I don’t, especially as a first-year apprentice.  I’d rather have a slightly high bird that chases prey it’s  comfortable with and refuses some slips, but will also survive the night if it is lost or if I miss a feeding (not intentionally, but accidents happen.  I may get in a wreck and spend the night in the hospital.  You never know).

After Ogedei fed up Bob got Sega, his passage red-tail, out.  She followed along great and worked with the dogs well.  The first flight she made was a hard-pumping flight across an open field upwind at a bunny.  She tried but never gained ground against the wind.  The dogs kept on the scent and we followed the rabbit through some cedar trees.  It gave the dogs the slip a couple of times but they kept finding the trail again.  After 10 minutes the dogs flushed the rabbit again and I thought Sega had it.  She made a nice flight with a wingover, but the rabbit juked and she missed.  It ran through a scrap pile, where I thought it stopped, but the dogs thought it kept on going.  We followed the dogs and the rabbit quickly reflushed.  Sega didn’t miss this time.

Even though Ogedei didn’t perform like I wanted it was still a fun day of hunting and a good way to end the season.  I’ve started fattening Ogedei up and cut contact so I can release him.  I already removed his anklets and bell; it’s weird to to hear him jingle in anticipation as I open the mews door. The rabbits around here don’t have large fetuses yet so it’s too early to release him.  I’d hate to have him starve because the only prey available is smart and survived the winter and predators, instead having easy, dumb newborn bunnies and mice to catch in a few weeks.  Also, there are still a lot of migrant northern red tails around, so more competition.  So I’ll wait a bit until mid- to late-March before letting him go.

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Hunting at Francie’s

Sarah and I took Ogedei and the dogs down to Francie’s last weekend.  We got in late Friday and hunted Saturday and Sunday morning.  Chad (another first-year apprentice) and Ashley (his wife) drove over to hunt with us both days.  We had a blast flying all the birds and Sarah got some great photos.

Saturday morning we started with Ogedei.  He was at 727g, 20g lower than I’ve hunted him before.  After a brief detour to get me a hunting license we got into Francie’s rabbit field by 8:30.  It was already warm, in the 50s. The rabbit field we hunted is mostly waist-high grass and dewberry, though there are patches of trumpet vine, horsetails, and small stands of thick, young trees, all of which is dotted with 15′-20′ trees.

Before I got Ogedei out I saw tall trees a few hundred yards away across one field and a levee and thought “Ogedei’s going to like the look of those”.  I hoped he wouldn’t though and got him up on a t-pole.  He looked around for a few seconds at the grass and sparse, short trees available and off he went, straight for those tall trees. Ugh.  We gave him a few minutes and he flew back across the levee towards us.  Then he went up and up and sat on top of a transmission pole.  At least he was closer.   He stooped off of the transmission pole, but missed whatever he was after. We went over to beat the brush around him and produced a lot of rabbits, but he ignored all of them.  He flew between trees, never really far away, but not really staying close either.  He eventually took two cotton rats, but all in all didn’t perform well.

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Yeah, I’m just gonna sit up here awhile…
© Sarah Skvarla

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© Sarah Skvarla

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Cotton rats

After I put Ogedei away we hunted Kraken for the rest of the morning.

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Chad and Kraken

Kraken flew well.  At 1000g, she’s significantly larger than Ogedei, though average for a female red tail (large RTs can be 1300g at hunting weight).  Kraken caught a cottontail fairly quickly and Chad traded her off of it.  It was still alive and he wanted to keep it that way so he could train his new beagle puppies with it.  We got it into his hawking vest, but the pouch it was in is secured by two snaps at the top.  The rabbit pushed up, got a snap undone, and escaped out the top.  Kraken wasn’t ready and off the bunny ran.  Kraken made some more great flights and bagged two more rabbits along with a handful of cotton rats and a ribbon snake.

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Beating the brush for Kraken.
© Sarah Skvarla

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Kraken
© Sarah Skvarla

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Kraken
© Sarah Skvarla

We broke for lunch, which was a delicious jambalaya Francie made.

In the afternoon we flew Francie’s Harris’s hawks – Nova (who’s 19 years old!) and Tirzah.  They were apparently a bit sluggish but still put on a great show.  They’re very active on the ground if they miss, running around trying to find what they were after.  They caught a handful of rats and made some nice flights at rabbits from t-poles.  We were walking back to the trucks, beating the brush in a last attempt, when a rabbit flushed and they caught it.  One of them crashed through a bush for it and ended up straddling a branch, one leg on either side, with the rabbit caught hard.  The other bird came down to help and the rabbit was done by the time we got to it.

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One of the Harris’s looking for a rat
© Sarah Skvarla

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Harris’s on the ground
© Sarah Skvarla

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Harrir’s after crashing into a bush for a bunny.
© Sarah Skvarla

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Harris’s on Francie’s truck, waiting to go into her giant hood
© Sarah Skvarla

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Chad and Francie with the day’s game
© Sarah Skvarla

On Sunday Ogedei was down to 720.7g.  He still refused the t-pole, but seemed fairly content in the small trees.  It was an improvement that he didn’t fly the coop across the levee.  He ignored the first handful of rabbit slips but finally made a long 75 yard flight at one that ran straight away from us.  He missed and started lagging further and further behind as we moved around the field.  I was quite frustrated and suggested we hunt Kraken instead, but Chad said he’d rather keep trying with Ogedei.

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Tidbitting Ogedei to the fist to move him along to where we were beating the brush
© Sarah Skvarla

We moved across the road, towards the levee.  Ogedei followed after a failed stoop at a rat.  We flushed some more rabbits and he made a really nice, hard-pumping flight at one that ran past him.  He winged over at it and was so close.  There was a flash of white as the bunny flipped a few feet in the air, but Ogedei either missed outright or got bucked off by the rabbit.  He finally seemed to really commit though, so that was nice.  We beat the brush some more but he didn’t commit to another slip.

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Ogedei flying between trees
© Sarah Skvarla

We moved to a small patch of brush, grass, and trees that is surrounded by short, lawn-like grass.  Ogedei didn’t chase the one rabbit we flushed from it.  We tried another strip of grass a few dozen of yards away and Ogedei stayed in his tree.  We flushed a rabbit and it ran straight at him across the lawn.  He launched but didn’t connect.

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Ogedei coming to the fist for a tidbit
© Sarah Skvarla

We moved locations to a farm with some massive oaks.  Ogedei flew into the first tree and looked focused like I’m used to seeing him.

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© Sarah Skvarla

We flushed a rabbit from around an old barn and he crashed hard through some brush, but barely missed.  The rabbit ran across a very open lawn but Ogedei couldn’t untangle himself from the bush to get up at it.  I got him up and he flew back into the oak.  The rabbit ran back at us across the open (why I have no idea) and Ogedei chased it, but checked off as it ran under a fence.  We started beating along the line of oaks and Ogedei followed along well, either being in the tree right behind us or getting ahead.  We flushed a rabbit and he tried again but missed.  I moved in to pick him up, and there was the rabbit, two feet from me and three from Ogedei.  Everyone froze when I saw it and Chad starts yelling for me to get Ogedei up.  I didn’t want to move and scare the rabbit, but I thought I could push it towards Ogedei.  He ran at it through the brush, ducking and turning, trying to get at it.  The bunny flushed before Ogedei got close enough at a ground catch.  We got Ogedei up again and found the rabbit, not 15 feet down the tree line.  It really didn’t want to move and I ended up poking it with my stick to flush it.

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Poking the rabbit with a stick

Ogedei flew hard at it and just as he was about to grab the bunny it slipped under a fence, which Ogedei crashed into.  It was a welded wire fence and not barbed wire, but it still wasn’t good. I didn’t see it but Chad was worried he broke something because of how he flopped after the hit.  Ogedei sat dazed for a minute, but shook it off and got back up into the trees.  We found the rabbit and this time Ashley had to poke it for it to flush.  It ran up under a cedar tree and Ogedei didn’t try for it.  We found it, again, and instead of poking it with a stick I tried grabbing it.  I missed, much like my hawk.  The rabbit finally decided to go into a hole.  While we tried to flush it Ogedei grabbed a cotton rat within 5′ of everyone.  He danced around a bit and carried it 6′ up into a nearby tree.  I wasn’t happy that he carried it, but at least he was alive to carry, and he did catch something.  After downing the rat in a few bites he came straight to the lure.  I finished feeding him with 30g or so of tidbits and we called it a day.

I’ve been posting updates about Ogedei on the Arkansas Hawking Assoc. forums, including what I wrote above.  Cody replied on the forums with this and I think what he said is pretty spot on (I feel like he’s told me similar things before, so I hope I don’t sound like a broken record asking the same question over and over…):

“Sounds like you were able to get a bunch of slips to help you make an assessment. The little males can be quite difficult to get to the point where they are consiatant. In general, when the females are at a weight where they are following tight, riding the t-pole, and responding instantly, they are ready to jump on any rabbit that moves. The males generally have to be flown at a lower weight percentage and it seems the smaller they are, the thinner they have to be flown. Keep in mind, they are normally catching much smaller prey. I flew a small male that at 720 he was the most responsive, best following bird you have ever seen. At that weight, he would only try a rabbit in the most ideal situation. Not until he was down around 680 was he chasing all the rabbits flushed, still he didnt like cover. I had an advantage dialing him because i had access to dozens of slips a day in realtively wide open ground.
If you think you need to go lower with his weight, do it slowly and verify that small changes result in improvement.  You may see better following, more use of the t-pole, before you see total commitment to rabbits.”

Finally, thanks to my wonderful wife Sarah for taking so many great photos.  If you want to see more of her work, including other photos from this trip, pop on over to her blog and take a look around.

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Rabbit Hunting

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I took Ogedei out this morning for a few hours.  We went up to Hobbs State Park, which is open to hunting.  It’s mostly open pine/oak forest.  They do controlled burns every 5-10 years, so the trees are fairly large and widely spaced in many areas.  I wanted to rabbit hunt but couldn’t find any good fields within the park.  I thought I remembered there being some before driving up, but they’re all outside the park on private property.  I eventually settled on a few small open areas that were each an acre or less in extent.The first area was a parking lot for a the Hidden Diversity multi-use trail.  The edges of the forest had grass and brambles and I flushed a rabbit within the first 5 minutes.  The rabbit ran across the open parking lot and Ogedei was after it.  I thought for sure with such an open area he’d connect, but they turned around an outhouse and I missed the last bit of the chase.  When I caught up Ogedei was sitting on a wooden fence with no rabbit. I beat the brush up and down but never reflushed that rabbit or found a second one in the area.

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The second spot was a fairly open area between the intersection of three roads. It was filled with briars and vines at ground level and looked promising.  I almost stepped on a rabbit as soon as we started hunting.  It sat perfectly still under a small pine tree less than 5′ away.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I circled around the rabbit and flushed it towards Ogedei.  The rabbit dove into some thick vines and Ogedei crashed into the top of the pile.  The rabbit kept going but Ogedei was tangled up.  When he finally got untangled the rabbit was gone.  Ogedei apparently hit the pile hard enough to knock some breast feather loose because a couple fluttered away when he finally got up into a tree and he now has a small bare spot on his chest.  I couldn’t find the rabbit to reflush it.The third rabbit was much like the first.  I found some dead, mostly fallen pokeweed and flushed a rabbit right away.  It made a 50 yard sprint through the open trees.  It was a really nice chase as Ogedei wove through the tree trunks but he came up short again.  When I caught up Ogedei was sitting in a small tree staring intently at a hole under the root ball of a fallen tree.

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No Hunting Today

I fed Ogedei 126g of food yesterday – 73g of woodrat + quail wings in the field, then another 53g of quail in the mews at home to top him off.  He keeps a steady weight at around 120g of quail (when overnight lows are between 20F and 30F like they have  been) so I thought he would be at a good weight for hunting today.  Instead he was at 783g, 20g higher than I hunted him yesterday.  It might not sound like much, but he was unresponsive in the mews, taking a few minutes to come to the fist for weighing; he also jumped up twice from the fist to the scales when I tried to put him in the giant hood.  Yesterday at 760g he was quite responsive and well-mannered.  At 780g I’m sure he’d come back to the lure in the field, but there’s no point in risking it, especially as his response to chasing prey would probably be reduced.  All of this to point out that different foods have different nutritional quality.  The rat he ate is obviously higher quality than the quail I’ve been feeding him and he put on the extra 20g because of it.  I’ll have to experiment with feeding him various amount of rat to see how much he gains or looses.

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Ogedei catches a woodrat

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.

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Hawking field in a powerline cut

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.

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Rabbit tracks!

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And fresh rabbit pellets

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.

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Rabbit hole

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.

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Ogedei crashing into the honeysuckle

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“There’s a rat in here somewhere…”

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Ogedei finally caught something!

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And then he ended up at the bottom of the honeysuckle in a heap

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AHA Field Meet

The Arkansas Hawking Association held it’s annual field meet in Ethel, AR last Friday through Sunday (31 Jun-2 Feb). A handful of people showed up Thursday to get some hunting in early, though most everyone, myself included, showed up Friday. I arrive at the Butler Lodge around 1 pm and found that, besides Ms. Ida, I was the only person there.  The other falconers were out hunting their birds.  I unpacked and changed into some field clothes, during which time Francie also arrived.  She brought her bag inside and then we headed out to find the other falconers.  We checked a few spots she thought they might be, but no dice.  After half an hour of driving we saw a half dozen vehicles parked along the side of the road.  We found everyone!  Except they were leaving to go back to the lodge.

Everyone regrouped at the lodge while we decided what to do next.  It was getting on in the day and the longwingers wanted to fly their birds at some ducks so we decided to go watch them.  Greg was the first up.  The caravan parked along the road a quarter a mile or so away from him to avoid flushing the ducks he was after.  Greg released his peregrine, Delta, (one of two wild-trapped peregrines taken in Arkansas this year) and up and up it flew.  Within a few minutes it was circling around 500′ up.  The peregrine could get much higher (upwards of 2000′), but it was quite windy.  Greg flushed the ducks and a group of five flew up.  The peregrine came screaming down and knocked a duck out of the sky.  The duck spiraled to the ground as Delta pitched up in a J shape.  Delta must thought the two ducks flying away were the ones she hit because she flew after them instead of the duck on the ground.  She realized her mistake after a few seconds, but the stunned duck she’d hit was up and moving again.  Delta switched her pursuit to the first duck and blasted off to it, covering the 200 yard gap.  She pitched up and stooped the duck a second time.  But that wasn’t enough to knock it down again.  The duck turned into the wind and Delta couldn’t keep up.  It was still a great sight to see though, even if it didn’t end up with a duck in hand.

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Everyone watching Greg’s peregrine stoop a duck

Chris was up next.  His tiercel peregrine (the second of two wild-trapped Arkansas peregrines) is smaller than Greg’s female and can’t take on all the ducks Greg’s bird can.  We changed location and found a small wet area with snipes.  Chris put his bird up and it immediately flew to a grain silo.  It perched there for 10-15 minutes before deciding it was safe enough to start flying and gaining altitude.  Much to Chris’s dismay  the bird  zoomed off after it reached a few hundred feet.  I thought it was leaving the county but apparently it saw something it wanted to kill.  That something turned out to be a crow 500 or 600 yards away.  The tiercel made a nice stoop and knocked the crow to the ground.  Cody and Rusty ran after the bird in order to ward off and hawks or eagles that might be in the area.  I took off after them to see how the flight ended.  By the time we reached the bird the crow had gotten away.

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Chris getting ready to fly his tiercel

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Chris’s tiercel on a flyby
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Feeding on the first after stooping a crow

Heath was the last longwinger to fly.  His bird is a captive bred barbary-gyrfalcon hybrid.  It flew up and up and I eventually lost it in the clouds.  I could still hear it’s bells every now and again when the wind was right, but eventually jumped back in the truck with Bob as he wanted to leave and I couldn’t see Heath or his bird any more.  Heath said later his bird stooped a duck but couldn’t hold on to it on the ground.

After the longwing flights we all headed back to the lodge to hang out.    We ended up in the living room watching videos of Cody and Bob’s red-tails hawking in Texas.  It was a great time talking to all the falconers about their birds and experiences.  Everyone drifted off to bed, leaving Heath, Jim, Chad, Cody, and myself up.  We ended up BSing until 12:30.

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Hanging out in the living room

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Hanging out in the living room

Breakfast was at 7:00 Saturday morning.  Everyone was up by 6:30 as Ms. Ida does not tolerate tardiness at meal time.

After dogs were fed and birds were weighed we all went out.  Everyone (20 or so of us) went out to a field that had been productive the previous year.  Chad got his red tail, Kraken, up on a t-pole and we began to beat the brush.  Rabbits weren’t abundant and after an hour and a half we only flushed three.  Cody said they flushed a dozen rabbits last by the time we saw the first one this year.  Kraken did catch a cotton rat, but didn’t bag a bunny.

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Beating the brush for Kraken

We broke into smaller groups, with the Harris hawkers going to hunt squirrels and the red-tails going to hunt bunnies.  I jumped in with Cody and Bob while Chad and his wife (Ashley?) followed.  We scouted a few fields that used to produce lots of rabbits but they were overgrown now.  I flew Ogedei in one field for a few minutes before we decided there wasn’t any rabbit sign; he made some very nice soaring/kiting flights above us as we beat the grass and brush.  I was a bit worried that Ogedei wouldn’t come down from his tree to a tidbit as he’s been stubborn before but he responded almost immediately.  We moved fields and I got Ogedei out again.  He followed along well and made a nice 75 yard flight at a rabbit.  The rabbit made it into some thick saplings and Ogedei pulled up.  We didn’t flush any more rabbits unfortunately.

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The tiercel in the weathering yard

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Greg’s peregrine in the weathering yard

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Heath’s barbary/gryfalcon hybrid in the weathering yard.

After lunch we went out to fly Kraken again.  Chad did a great job of wedding Kraken to a t-perch so we flew her in some very tall brush.  Cody ran his two beagles with Chad’s beagle.  We flushed a rabbit within the first five minutes and then followed the beagles while they chased it for the next hour.  None of us saw the rabbit again, though Kraken apparently made a try at it towards the end of the hunt.  She didn’t connect and we came up empty again.

We headed back to the lodge and everyone loaded up to watch the longwingers fly again.  Greg got Delta ready and was walking into a field when a couple people showed up late and accidentally flushed the ducks he was trying to fly at.  He was not happy and we moved locations.  Greg got ready again and was walking across a field when a tractor from an adjacent field blew by at top speed.  It blew it’s horn at the ducks and flushed them before Delta was off the fist.  I couldn’t believe it.

We headed back to the lodge for dinner a bit disappointed.  After dinner we held a raffle and business meeting.  I won a very nice leash and two pairs of safety glasses (rabbit hawking involves beating lots of brush, often briars, so you need eye protection) in the raffle, so was pretty happy with that.  The business meeting went smoothly, if a bit uneventful.  Rusty shared some photos from the trip he and Francie took to Texas for the NAFA field meet during Thanksgiving.  It was neat to see the jack rabbits he bagged.

Sunday was windy and rainy and cold, so much so that no one hunted their birds.  Heath weathered his bird on his fist instead of tying him out in the rain.  I flew Ogedei at the lure as he’s never been trained to it in such conditions, but even with as wedded as he is to the lure he was rather miserable in the conditions and had a slow response.

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Heath and his barbary/gyr

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Cody and Marge

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Marge showing off her brick-red tail

All in all 31 people (18 of which stayed at least one night at the lodge) and 17 birds came to the meet.  Three rabbits and eight squirrels were taken over the course of the weekend.  I saw some great flights and it was nice seeing everyone again as I haven’t seen most of the club members since the summer picnic.  I’ve got some ideas about what I want to do next season and can’t wait to go back to Ethel for the meet next year.

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