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My Latest Endeavor...

Discussion in 'Other Pet Talk' started by Tom, Jan 27, 2016.

  1. Moozillion

    Moozillion Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Tom, I am SO GLAD that you were able to carry on with the falconry!!!!!!
    LOVING.THIS.THREAD!!!!!!!:<3:
    :):):):):):):):):):):):):):)
  2. MichaelaW

    MichaelaW Well-Known Member

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    Wow! Is there anything you haven't worked with?
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  3. Moozillion

    Moozillion Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I'm guessing the only animal he hasn't worked with is penguins...but I could be WRONG!!!!! :D
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  4. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Yep. You are wrong. :p One of the companies I work with has some of those South African penguins. I've done a few jobs with them over the years. And while in South Africa, I went and swam with the wild ones too. All the locals looked at me like I was nuts, but hey, how could you not take advantage of the opportunity to swim with real live wild penguins!!!

    I haven't worked with Koalas, Pandas, Komodo Dragons, Cape Buffalos, Bald Eagles, hmm… There are lots of species I've never worked with...
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  5. tortdad

    tortdad Well-Known Member

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    Slacker!
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  6. Moozillion

    Moozillion Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    The Penguin Whisperer! :p
  7. Team Gomberg

    Team Gomberg IXOYE

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    Did I miss the reason why no other hawks were in her area?

    Or why you think she was so difficult to catch?

    Is it possible she was caught and hunted before? I think you said people will catch, hint with and then release the birds after the season is over.

    Will you release her and try a new bird next season? Or do another season with this bird?

    This is a great read. Thanks for taking the time to share with us.
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  8. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I'm getting to the part about why she was all alone out there…

    And why she wouldn't come down to my trap…

    Not possible she was caught and hunted with before because she had the baby plumage. Since I caught her in November, there is no possible way anyone had time to catch her, train her, and release her. They molt into adult colors at one year old. I'll be showing pics of that soon. :)

    I don't know about whether or not I'll keep her another season. We had some frustrating times last season, and I don't know if that was because of my ignorance and inexperience, or because she's an obstinate pain in the rear. Probably the former, but time will tell. Those stories are on the way. When that little male wild hawk was following me around and waiting for me to flush game, that is what I was expecting out of my own hawk. I never really felt like I got much attentiveness from her. That little wild male was watching me like a "hawk". Har-d-har. My bird? Sometimes I think she hung around because flying away would take too much effort. Then, on other days, I would see moments of brilliance. She and I would be totally tuned-in and working together. If I get more of those good days, I might keep her another year. If not, I might try another red-tail, or buy a CB Harris Hawk and try that, since I'll be a General Falconer by that time.

    Also for this coming winter season, I'm planning on adding a dog the my hunting team. From what I've been reading, a good dog makes for a much more enjoyable experience for the hawk and falconer alike. This is all new to me and I have ssssssooooooooooOOOOooooo much to learn, but I'm enjoying every minute of it, both the successes and failures. Adding the dog should give the hawk much more action and keep her much more interested, if it all goes the way it is supposed to. One way or another, I'm sure there will be good stories to tell at the end of each day.
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  9. tortdad

    tortdad Well-Known Member

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    I know a guy who can train that dog for you ;)
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  10. leigti

    leigti Well-Known Member

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    What breed of dog would you get?
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  11. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I've got a female malinois that I've been working with for this. Though not a traditional hunting breed, I refer to them as the supreme working dog of the universe. They can be trained to do anything. I think she will work well. I've also got a Patterdale and two Jack Russels I could try out.

    But what I really want to get is a little wiener dog that can get into the little rabbit holes and chase them out for Minerva.
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  12. Moozillion

    Moozillion Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Ooh!!!! Are you using Sophie??? :)
  13. MichaelaW

    MichaelaW Well-Known Member

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    What about a Vizsla?
  14. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Yes! She's already into chasing rabbits and she's got a good nose.

    Plus, Minerva is already used to seeing her, Minerva is pretty unlikely to try to grab such a big dog, and Sophie already has a suburb down stay on the fly.
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  15. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    I've never seen a single one with a good temperament. I've helped train a few of them, and they don't appeal to me.

    JRT, Daschund, or beagle hold the most appeal for me, but given my complete lack of experience with using any dog for this purpose, I could be wrong.
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  16. leigti

    leigti Well-Known Member

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    I know somebody that had a Vizsla for a guide dog and he had a wonderful temperament. He was so sweet. So smart.
    I know someone that had a toy poodle carried away by a hawk. I would be a little worried about using a small dog.
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  17. Moozillion

    Moozillion Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    (Drums fingers, hums impatiently...);)

    Soooooo how come she was out there alone and so hard to catch?
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  18. Moozillion

    Moozillion Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    @Tom
  19. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

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    Okay, okay… I've been busy lately… :p

    So my bird is a beast. She's quite a lot larger than average for her species. For months I pondered why in November/December of 2015 there were dozens of birds out in that area, but in Sept/Oct of 2016 it was a ghost town except for this one bird, who would not come down to my trap for some reason. My sponsor speculated it was due to the warmer weather that lasted well into fall. The Northern birds don't migrate south until the weather cools. It hand't cooled much yet. Even when it did cool though, there were still not many birds out there. Warmer weather also reduces their appetite and hunger drive.

    Fast forward… I caught Minerva, trained her up, started hunting and catching game with her and I'de been flying her loose around my ranch for weeks, when one day, totally out of the blue, she just takes off and leaves me standing there alone. She just left for no "apparent" reason. I watched her fly across the valley back in the direction of the ranch, but I couldn't see exactly where she landed due to the distance and the trees. I waited a minute to see if she'd come back, and no sign of her. Very odd. I pulled out the telemetry device and it confirmed she was right over where I saw her go and apparently not moving. So with a fair amount of concern and frustration, I began the 10 minute march all the way back over there. As I approached I could see her sitting on a pole that we regularly use for training. At some distance, I can see her restlessly moving around. "What is she doing?", I think to myself as I keep walking toward her. She keeps lowering her head. As I get closer, and I'm looking straight up at her, I can see that she's eating. I can also see her crop is pretty full, so she's been eating for a while. Its about this time that I'm also noticing the familiar scream of the resident adult red tail hawks that own and control this territory. They always scream at Minerva whenever I put her up, but they keep their distance when I'm around, so this wasn't unusual.

    Well… My bird found some food. Now what? There was nothing I could do. I had to sit there and wait for her to finish her meal. Knowing what a greedy pig she is, I wasn't too worried about getting her down. After 20 minutes and several attempts, she predictably flew down to the lure. I took her back to the ranch and weigher her. She'd eaten about 270 grams of whatever she found. No flying tomorrow for her…

    The next day it was business as usual. We hunted for several weeks without incident. All was going pretty well. She flew over to the next field a couple of times to go "self-hunting" because I wasn't scaring up enough game, the thermals were favorable, and because she's an independent cuss that doesn't need me for nuthin'. A little help from my sponsor and a slight weight adjustment fixed that problem, and we were a having a great season. Then, one day…

    It was late mid February. I finished work and I had enough time to get her up and fly her for her food, but not enough time to drive to one of our usual hunting areas. I pulled her out, got her hunting jesses and telemetry on her and sent her up to the nearest pole that we always used. As she flew, I was already reaching into my vest to get her first piece of food ready to call her straight back. She took a sudden hard bank to the left and started flying straight away from me into the distance. Not coincidentally, she was flying straight toward that same pole from the first "food" incident weeks ago. Mind you, this is totally out of character. She never just flies away from me like this… I'm trying to see where she's going and as I look ahead of her, I notice one of the resident hawks perched on that pole in the distance. "Uh oh…" I think to myself… "That adult is going to kick her butt if she gets too close…" For a brief second, I was worried that my bird was going to get herself injured or killed, and I still had no idea what she was doing or where she was going…

    She was about 200 yards away from me now and moving fast. All of my questions and all of the mysteries were answered in an instant. BAM!!!!! My 10 month old, immature, juvenile bird, flew straight into the resident, adult, territorial adult female and knocked her right off the food she had captured. No hesitation. No regard for her safety. No doubt about how this was going to go. Just BLAMMMO! Minerva slammed right into this adult and snatched her meal away from her, and then proceeded to sit right there on her pole and eat the entire thing. The resident adults are all paired up and nesting at this point in the season. They get extremely territorial and defensive as they know they've got babies coming soon and they can't be sharing space or resources with competitors. Both adults were pissed. They were screaming and dive bombing Minerva while she ate. She ignored them like meaningless flies, and kept right on eating. She finished her meal and with a full crop, it took me about a half hour to get her down this time. I was shocked. I'd never seen or heard of behavior like this from a juvenile. All these thoughts and answers came flooding into my head. This explained so many things…

    Late February/early March. Fast approaching the end of the hunting season. I get another clue about who and what my bird is: There is a complex of hunting fields that I go to that are surrounded by businesses, buildings, side walks and lots of human activities. These factors all conspire to make a perfect rabbit breeding/living area. All the human activity, cars, foot traffic, etc… keeps all the predators away and desensitizes the rabbits to a degree. All the light poles, telephone poles and building make prefect perching places for a red tail to hunt from, but the wild ones are intimidated by all the activity, so they stay away. Since there are no predators to keep the rabbit population under control, they can breed to levels that are not healthy and unsustainable. So I'm happy to provide a service in keeping the local rabbit populations healthy and in-check. Another little male juvenile red-tail had discovered this area, and I'm guessing his hunger helped him to over come his fear of the people and activity. I'm guessing that after enough repetitions of people walking down the side walk next to these fields and the rabbits bolting, that he was able to put 2 and 2 together, the same way we deliberately teach our captive birds this same lesson. The lesson is: Watch the humans near these fields because they will make the rabbits jump up and run so you can catch them. Anyhow, this little male would attentively follow me from field to field and watch my every move. He was much more attentive than Minerva, in fact. Well Minerva didn't like this. Instead of hunting and going after all the rabbits I was flushing, she spent her time trying to drive away this little male. She hopped from pole to pole trying to displace him and make him leave, while he hopped from pole to pole paying attention to me and going after the rabbits I scared up. The point of the story is this: Minerva is very territorial. She cares more about defending her turf than catching game.

    As a side not to the Minerva story: This fantastic little male appears to have met an early demise, which is so common for the wild birds. I had silly dreams of him and Minerva pairing up and making wonderful babies some day after her falconry career is over, but it was not to be. When engaging in the sport of falconry, we are all supposed to conduct ourselves courteously and professionally. Ambassadors for the sport, as it were. This being the case, I stop and make small talk with the people who live and work in the areas that I hunt. One of the business owners in the area comes out to watch and talk sometimes. He hadn't seen me for a couple of weeks and he came out to tell me how relieved he was that my bird was okay. I asked what he meant and he told me they'd seen a dead hawk on the side of the road and they feared it was my bird because they hadn't seen me for a couple of weeks. It was my little attentive male. I can only guess that he was hit by a car, or that he succumbed to the parasites or diseases that are so common in these wild birds. There is a reason why so few of them survive their first year, and this wonderful little male that was so smart and full of life is now part of those statistics. I quietly cried a little over his loss. I only knew him for a few weeks, but I felt like I'd lost a friend, companion and teacher. I looked forward to seeing him every time I drove out there.

    Moving on to the very last day of the hunting season, March 31st of 2017. Things have been going very well up to this point. We'd caught nine rabbits for the season, (And one unintentional ground squirrel, which is vey dangerous…) which I'm told is a pretty high number for a first year apprentice with a new bird. I was determined to get one more rabbit to make it an even 10 for the season. Problem is that all the slow and dumb rabbits are already caught. The ones that are still alive at the end of winter are alive for a good reason. They know how to not get caught. So we get out there around 5pm and I'll have light until around 7-7:15pm. We start hitting the fields hard. She's on her game and paying attention. We have a few near misses.
    IMG_3109.JPG

    IMG_3112.JPG
    These late season rabbits dive into this heavy cover and Minerva can't get to them. This is where a good dog with a strong nose will come in handy. The dog will sniff them out and flush them again.

    To be continued...
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  20. Moozillion

    Moozillion Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    GREAT STUFF, Tom!!!! :) :) :)
    MAN!!! Minerva is one kick-butt gal!!;)

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