My Latest Endeavor...

Tom

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Sad news about Rick and Morty's dad... He was found dead in the mew. They live in a neighborhood and apparently a neighbor was using poison to control the local rat population. One of the poisoned rats got within reach of papa bird and he caught it and ate it. This is so sad. I don't know why people don't understand this concept. When you poison a prey animal, it is going to be eaten by a predator. A predator that would have gone on to kill hundreds or thousands of this pest species, had it not been poisoned. Who knows how many of the wild predators in the area were killed. In a few months time, there is going to be a population explosion of rodents in the area because all of the natural wild predators are dead. Poison makes your rat problem worse!

Here is Dad on the left sitting next to Mom:
IMG_8625 copy.JPG

I can't tell if this is Mom or Dad, but this is Rick and Morty with their two brothers being tended to by a parent before I got them:
IMG_9253.JPEG


Rest in peace Dad...
 

wellington

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Awww that is sad. There are so many other ways to rid varmits then a poison that can't be controlled. Specially in areas with so much wildlife. So sorry.
 

Moozillion

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Sad news about Rick and Morty's dad... He was found dead in the mew. They live in a neighborhood and apparently a neighbor was using poison to control the local rat population. One of the poisoned rats got within reach of papa bird and he caught it and ate it. This is so sad. I don't know why people don't understand this concept. When you poison a prey animal, it is going to be eaten by a predator. A predator that would have gone on to kill hundreds or thousands of this pest species, had it not been poisoned. Who knows how many of the wild predators in the area were killed. In a few months time, there is going to be a population explosion of rodents in the area because all of the natural wild predators are dead. Poison makes your rat problem worse!

Here is Dad on the left sitting next to Mom:
View attachment 285007

I can't tell if this is Mom or Dad, but this is Rick and Morty with their two brothers being tended to by a parent before I got them:
View attachment 285008


Rest in peace Dad...
So sorry to hear about Rick and Morty's dad...:(:<3:
 

Tom

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You have such a cool job!!! :):<3::<3::<3:
When I was a kid and people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say: "I want to do as little work possible for as much money as possible." I sure found the right job. I'm not sure this even classifies as "work".
 

Moozillion

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When I was a kid and people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say: "I want to do as little work possible for as much money as possible." I sure found the right job. I'm not sure this even classifies as "work".
HAHAHA!!! :D:D:D:<3:
 

JLM

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Wicked commercial! Very cool job you have...and hobby! So sorry to hear about the poisoning! I am so adamant about no poison! I have a rat that I could not catch in my tortoise enclosure with 8 different traps. I resorted to glue if I was going to do an in humane one I was at least not going to poison the neighborhood! Didn’t catch him with that either. He was a smart one!
 

Tom

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Wicked commercial! Very cool job you have...and hobby! So sorry to hear about the poisoning! I am so adamant about no poison! I have a rat that I could not catch in my tortoise enclosure with 8 different traps. I resorted to glue if I was going to do an in humane one I was at least not going to poison the neighborhood! Didn’t catch him with that either. He was a smart one!
Rat trapping is an art and a skill. Not so easy as some people think. If it was easy, there wouldn't be so many of them running around! :) I applaud your efforts to avoid poisons. I wish more people saw it that way.
 

Tom

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We are due for an update. The season and my boys just keep getting better and better. I just can't believe how good these hawks are. As the season progresses, the hunting gets more and more difficult. The rabbits get fewer and farther between, and they get much harder to catch. The slowest, least fit, and least wiley of them get picked off early in the season. The only ones left are the smartest, fastest and most fit of the bunch. Well nobody told my birds that. They don't seem to understand this concept. I know of a bunch of fields still teeming with rabbits, and I've observed that the rabbits run sooner, faster, and show utmost caution, but my hawks are still outsmarting and outrunning them. Their rate of catches per attempts continues to go up and up and up.

I started out the season with the intention of just taking one rabbit per hunting day. Just enough to reward them in the field for a catch, and save some in the freezer for the 6 month long molting season. I didn't want to "sanitize" any of the hunting fields and take so many that the populations wouldn't be able to rebuild normally during spring and summer. We typically go out into a field, the boys try and miss a few times, and finally catch one. I'd feed them a good amount, and then head back to the car with a smile on my face, and a good meal in their bellies. From time to time on the walk back to the car, another rabbit or two would jump up, and they'd catch a second one on the same day. That's fine. I'd give them a food reward and then continue back to the car. In the last month or so, they've started pulling these doubles almost every time we go out. Since they've been catching jacks with more regularity, we seem to also be catching more cottontails.

I'm not much into ball sports, so on Super Bowl Sunday, I decided to have my own Super Bowl of Tom's Falconry. I brought a friend up and we toured three of the most over-populated rabbit fields in the area. I wanted to see how many they could catch in a day, if we didn't stop at just one or two. Here was the result:
IMG_1141.JPG
As you can see, my birds won the Super Bowl. I had to reward them on each catch and man, they were pretty fat and full at the end of this day.

The day after the above pic, it was too windy to hunt, and also, they were still way too full of food. The day after that, I had to work all day. I took them out on the third day and they caught a cotton tail, and then TWO jacks. Its hard work for them catching a jack, and they've never caught two in one day before. They got another day off after cropping up on the two jacks, and then we went out only to have them catch two more big jacks! That was yesterday.

Early in the season, I was constantly hunting these birds at around 600 grams. If they were much over that, they didn't catch anything. With my passage redtails, weight management was critical. Those birds hunted at around 1200 grams and 1000 grams, respectively. If their weight was more than 10-15 grams off, they would hunt poorly, be inattentive, refuse to recall, go self-hunting, and generally be a pain in the arse. I've been letting the weight creep up on Rick and Morty. So many times they catch two rabbits and go home with way more food than I'd normally feed them, and this has gradually brought their weigh up higher and higher. I've been frequently them heavy the next day after big meals. Its been pretty normal to fly them at 620-630 lately and their performance in the field can only be described as excellent. Well they caught two jacks yesterday, and got fed very well for their efforts. A friend and I have been planning a hunt for a week or so, but when I weighed them this morning they were 648 and 655. I considered not hunting, but they've been so good lately at higher weights, I decided to just go for it. After 5 minutes of hunting, this was my reward for flying them too heavy:
IMG_1181.JPG
It was a beautiful flight. I was up on the rim of a canyon with the birds, and as they flew out and down after this rabbit, I had a bird's eye view of the chase and catch. It was amazing to see from that perspective. Even though they were already heavy, I had to reward them for a job well done. Then they followed up by catching two more cottontails on the way back to the car. I fed them and fed them again. They darn near caught two more after that, but just missed. Here's the lot of them from earlier this morning:
IMG_1193.JPG

Its supposed to rain tomorrow evening, and I have to work Monday, so I'm planning on taking them hunting tomorrow morning. Weight doesn't seem to be much of a factor in their performance anymore, so we're going for it.
 

wellington

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We are due for an update. The season and my boys just keep getting better and better. I just can't believe how good these hawks are. As the season progresses, the hunting gets more and more difficult. The rabbits get fewer and farther between, and they get much harder to catch. The slowest, least fit, and least wiley of them get picked off early in the season. The only ones left are the smartest, fastest and most fit of the bunch. Well nobody told my birds that. They don't seem to understand this concept. I know of a bunch of fields still teeming with rabbits, and I've observed that the rabbits run sooner, faster, and show utmost caution, but my hawks are still outsmarting and outrunning them. Their rate of catches per attempts continues to go up and up and up.

I started out the season with the intention of just taking one rabbit per hunting day. Just enough to reward them in the field for a catch, and save some in the freezer for the 6 month long molting season. I didn't want to "sanitize" any of the hunting fields and take so many that the populations wouldn't be able to rebuild normally during spring and summer. We typically go out into a field, the boys try and miss a few times, and finally catch one. I'd feed them a good amount, and then head back to the car with a smile on my face, and a good meal in their bellies. From time to time on the walk back to the car, another rabbit or two would jump up, and they'd catch a second one on the same day. That's fine. I'd give them a food reward and then continue back to the car. In the last month or so, they've started pulling these doubles almost every time we go out. Since they've been catching jacks with more regularity, we seem to also be catching more cottontails.

I'm not much into ball sports, so on Super Bowl Sunday, I decided to have my own Super Bowl of Tom's Falconry. I brought a friend up and we toured three of the most over-populated rabbit fields in the area. I wanted to see how many they could catch in a day, if we didn't stop at just one or two. Here was the result:
View attachment 286010
As you can see, my birds won the Super Bowl. I had to reward them on each catch and man, they were pretty fat and full at the end of this day.

The day after the above pic, it was too windy to hunt, and also, they were still way too full of food. The day after that, I had to work all day. I took them out on the third day and they caught a cotton tail, and then TWO jacks. Its hard work for them catching a jack, and they've never caught two in one day before. They got another day off after cropping up on the two jacks, and then we went out only to have them catch two more big jacks! That was yesterday.

Early in the season, I was constantly hunting these birds at around 600 grams. If they were much over that, they didn't catch anything. With my passage redtails, weight management was critical. Those birds hunted at around 1200 grams and 1000 grams, respectively. If their weight was more than 10-15 grams off, they would hunt poorly, be inattentive, refuse to recall, go self-hunting, and generally be a pain in the arse. I've been letting the weight creep up on Rick and Morty. So many times they catch two rabbits and go home with way more food than I'd normally feed them, and this has gradually brought their weigh up higher and higher. I've been frequently them heavy the next day after big meals. Its been pretty normal to fly them at 620-630 lately and their performance in the field can only be described as excellent. Well they caught two jacks yesterday, and got fed very well for their efforts. A friend and I have been planning a hunt for a week or so, but when I weighed them this morning they were 648 and 655. I considered not hunting, but they've been so good lately at higher weights, I decided to just go for it. After 5 minutes of hunting, this was my reward for flying them too heavy:
View attachment 286011
It was a beautiful flight. I was up on the rim of a canyon with the birds, and as they flew out and down after this rabbit, I had a bird's eye view of the chase and catch. It was amazing to see from that perspective. Even though they were already heavy, I had to reward them for a job well done. Then they followed up by catching two more cottontails on the way back to the car. I fed them and fed them again. They darn near caught two more after that, but just missed. Here's the lot of them from earlier this morning:
View attachment 286012

Its supposed to rain tomorrow evening, and I have to work Monday, so I'm planning on taking them hunting tomorrow morning. Weight doesn't seem to be much of a factor in their performance anymore, so we're going for it.
Happy for you and your birds but I'm not one for killing animals or seeing it and I love bunnies. At least it's not just for sport, that you actually do something with the lives you took.
 

Tom

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Happy for you and your birds but I'm not one for killing animals or seeing it and I love bunnies. At least it's not just for sport, that you actually do something with the lives you took.
You are not alone. I take it seriously. I mean I take your thoughts on the matter, the sport, and also what I'm doing or not doing seriously.

I don't know if you've read the whole thread, but remember that I'm hunting in fields that have a tremendous imbalance and unsustainable populations of rabbits because the natural predators fear to tread in these areas. With out me and others like me doing what we do, the numbers would quickly reach epidemic proportions and the entire lot of them would die off. Something has to control the population, or a disease epidemic will wipe them all out.

And yes, my birds do have to eat, so one way or another, some animal has to die to feed them, and to feed any other predator too. This is true for any animal, or person, that eats any meat. These rabbits will feed my birds all year long. Any extra will be given to friends who also have birds to feed, and we'll repeat the cycle year after year.

My wife's feelings on the matter are similar to yours, I think. She grasps the concepts of predation and population control cerebrally, but emotionally she's just not comfortable with the rabbits dying. I made my peace with it a long time ago. I treat the prey humanely and with respect. There is a certain reverence and solemn quiet at a kill. We celebrate the accomplishment of a catch, but we revere the kill and appreciate the sustenance given by the prey. I realize its not for everyone. Thank you for reading my post and sharing your thoughts.
 

Blackdog1714

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You are not alone. I take it seriously. I mean I take your thoughts on the matter, the sport, and also what I'm doing or not doing seriously.

I don't know if you've read the whole thread, but remember that I'm hunting in fields that have a tremendous imbalance and unsustainable populations of rabbits because the natural predators fear to tread in these areas. With out me and others like me doing what we do, the numbers would quickly reach epidemic proportions and the entire lot of them would die off. Something has to control the population, or a disease epidemic will wipe them all out.

And yes, my birds do have to eat, so one way or another, some animal has to die to feed them, and to feed any other predator too. This is true for any animal, or person, that eats any meat. These rabbits will feed my birds all year long. Any extra will be given to friends who also have birds to feed, and we'll repeat the cycle year after year.

My wife's feelings on the matter are similar to yours, I think. She grasps the concepts of predation and population control cerebrally, but emotionally she's just not comfortable with the rabbits dying. I made my peace with it a long time ago. I treat the prey humanely and with respect. There is a certain reverence and solemn quiet at a kill. We celebrate the accomplishment of a catch, but we revere the kill and appreciate the sustenance given by the prey. I realize its not for everyone. Thank you for reading my post and sharing your thoughts.
I am not a hunter, but truly appreciate that it is now man’s responsibility to control the animals. Not taking any is almost as bad as taking too many! Carry on sir!
 

Tom

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I frequently explain that falconry is an adventure. You never know what is going to happen. Each day you turn the birds loose, it might be the last time you see them alive, or, amazing things might happen right in front of your eyes. Many tragic things can befall these awesome birds. They die in more ways than I can list. Life in a cage might, arguably, be a little safer, but that is really no life at all for a raptor. They need to FLY and they need to HUNT. Anything less is an injustice. Hunting is risky. Life is risky. What follows is our adventure on Sunday, the day I talked about at the end of my last post.

It was too windy in my usual areas, so I drove all the way up to Bakersfield. Its a little over an hour from my house. I got the birds out and started walking the field. All was good and they were having some good flights with near misses. Rick was on the perch and Morty took off in the direction behind me and to the left. I watched him dive to the earth and disappear from view. This is pretty normal. They aren't very tall and even low brush hides them pretty well. If they connect, you hear the rabbit screaming and you know to run over and help them. If they don't connect, they usually pop back up and return to me within a few seconds to rejoin the hunt. Sometimes, when a rabbit makes it to its hole, they will poke their head down the hole and see if they can find it. After 10-20 seconds, they wise up and start looking for me. So there I stood waiting... and waiting... and waiting... After about a minute, I know something is wrong and I start walking to where I last saw Morty with some urgency in my step. No screaming, and also no return to me. This isn't normal. Its always one or the other.

As I walk in that direction, I can start to see that there is a big depression in the ground. A big "bowl" if you will:
IMG_1201.JPG

As I get closer, I can see its some sort of drainage area:
IMG_1202.JPG

I couldn't even see that there was anything but level ground from a distance. As I get closer, I'm scanning the whole area for any sign of Morty. Nothing.
IMG_1197.JPG

Not a sound, and no visual. I'm 100% certain of where he went down because I was looking right at him. That's when I saw it. The big culvert pipe.
IMG_1196.JPG
"Oh sh*t!" "No f'in way........" The foul language started flowing from my otherwise angelic mouth...
I pulled out my handy dandy flashlight that I always carry in the field with me but have never needed in 6 years of falconry, and sure enough, there was Mort eating his rabbit. And not near the entrance where I could reach him, but a good 20 feet in. The pipe was about 14"-16" and I couldn't have squeezed in there when I was a little kid, but plenty of room for a hawk and a rabbit.
IMG_1208.JPG

Since he was in there having a meal all to himself, there was no calling him out. He ignored the lure, a treat in my glove, me begging... etc... There was only one thing to do. Wait. Eventually he'd fill up and then, hopefully, go toward the light. Surprisingly, it only took him about 20 minutes and then he happily came hopping out and looked at me like, "Hey. What's up?" He nonchalantly hopped up on my glove and enjoyed a leisurely walk back to the car with the fullest crop he's ever had. That was enough "adventure" for one day, so we drove home after that.

I had no idea that pipe was even there. Couldn't see anything from the rest of the field. Luckily, there wasn't anything else down there and the day ended without tragedy. I suppose you could say it was a successful day of hunting. We did catch a rabbit, and that was the goal for the day...
 

Maro2Bear

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Very interesting & informative. Thanks for including all the details on flight weights, full crops, etc. It’s a rather humane way to keep the rabbit population from exploding. We have fields full of ground hogs that ruin crops & white tail deer that ruin crops & gardens.

Keep the pix & Stories coming our way.

Regarding the poisoned bird - a real shame. We had instances here in Maryland with farmers placing poison down to kill foxes....but, in the end, it’s the Bald Eagles that feel the pain.

 
Last edited:

CarolM

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I frequently explain that falconry is an adventure. You never know what is going to happen. Each day you turn the birds loose, it might be the last time you see them alive, or, amazing things might happen right in front of your eyes. Many tragic things can befall these awesome birds. They die in more ways than I can list. Life in a cage might, arguably, be a little safer, but that is really no life at all for a raptor. They need to FLY and they need to HUNT. Anything less is an injustice. Hunting is risky. Life is risky. What follows is our adventure on Sunday, the day I talked about at the end of my last post.

It was too windy in my usual areas, so I drove all the way up to Bakersfield. Its a little over an hour from my house. I got the birds out and started walking the field. All was good and they were having some good flights with near misses. Rick was on the perch and Morty took off in the direction behind me and to the left. I watched him dive to the earth and disappear from view. This is pretty normal. They aren't very tall and even low brush hides them pretty well. If they connect, you hear the rabbit screaming and you know to run over and help them. If they don't connect, they usually pop back up and return to me within a few seconds to rejoin the hunt. Sometimes, when a rabbit makes it to its hole, they will poke their head down the hole and see if they can find it. After 10-20 seconds, they wise up and start looking for me. So there I stood waiting... and waiting... and waiting... After about a minute, I know something is wrong and I start walking to where I last saw Morty with some urgency in my step. No screaming, and also no return to me. This isn't normal. Its always one or the other.

As I walk in that direction, I can start to see that there is a big depression in the ground. A big "bowl" if you will:
View attachment 286141

As I get closer, I can see its some sort of drainage area:
View attachment 286142

I couldn't even see that there was anything but level ground from a distance. As I get closer, I'm scanning the whole area for any sign of Morty. Nothing.
View attachment 286143

Not a sound, and no visual. I'm 100% certain of where he went down because I was looking right at him. That's when I saw it. The big culvert pipe.
View attachment 286144
"Oh sh*t!" "No f'in way........" The foul language started flowing from my otherwise angelic mouth...
I pulled out my handy dandy flashlight that I always carry in the field with me but have never needed in 6 years of falconry, and sure enough, there was Mort eating his rabbit. And not near the entrance where I could reach him, but a good 20 feet in. The pipe was about 14"-16" and I couldn't have squeezed in there when I was a little kid, but plenty of room for a hawk and a rabbit.
View attachment 286145

Since he was in there having a meal all to himself, there was no calling him out. He ignored the lure, a treat in my glove, me begging... etc... There was only one thing to do. Wait. Eventually he'd fill up and then, hopefully, go toward the light. Surprisingly, it only took him about 20 minutes and then he happily came hopping out and looked at me like, "Hey. What's up?" He nonchalantly hopped up on my glove and enjoyed a leisurely walk back to the car with the fullest crop he's ever had. That was enough "adventure" for one day, so we drove home after that.

I had no idea that pipe was even there. Couldn't see anything from the rest of the field. Luckily, there wasn't anything else down there and the day ended without tragedy. I suppose you could say it was a successful day of hunting. We did catch a rabbit, and that was the goal for the day...
Clever clever Morty. It is amazing just how clever they are and that we don't give them enough credit. The fact that he worked out that there was no way you were going to be able to get to him and therefore not have to share his meal, is just so intelligent. I love reading your stories and this one has just reminded me that there are creatures out there that are just as intelligent if not more so than we are out there.
 

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