(Click on Pics to see them bigger)
This past week started out with Raul, Jonathan, and I heading out to the NAFA meet in Woodward. We arrived there on Monday morning and got a quick flight with the Hybrid after hiking in the Gloss Mountains for an hour or so. The flight was unsuccessful but the backdrop for it was great. An hour later we arrived at the meet hotel and Raul did his talk on Aplomado Falcons in Falconry which was a huge hit. Raul may be young but he is an excellent falconer and has a wealth of falconry knowledge from hawking in two countries and being exposed to the sport at a very high level. The next day we made it out to watch Mitch Wishon fly his Gos then shot back to see Harris's Hawks being flown by Arkansas falconers. Grabbed a bite to eat and then lead Jason Childress and some foreign falconers out for a duck flight with Jason's Hybrids. The last part Raul really liked because he made a friend (see pic below). I unfortunately lost my voice that day so that night I did a lot of listening, first to George Allen of the USFWS about the new regs that Oklahoma will be one of the first states to get and the Andrew Bullien about passage Peregrine take in the U.S, and then the rest of the night was spent listening to hawking stories from the day. Wednesday we had to leave to get Raul back to the airport but before we left we went out one last time to see a Merlin flight. One of the best I've seen. This little female Merlin was in the air for probably 15 minutes and stated right above her falconer at about 300' the whole time! Cool way to end the meet in my eyes.
After arriving back home I got a call from Brian Bradley, a New York falconer, who was looking to trap black Red-tails in Oklahoma and Kansas. We chatted for a few minutes and he decided he would just come on down to Bartlesville for the morning and we would go and see what we could see.
Thanksgiving morning we first went out for a flight with my falcon. He climbed really nice over a pond. At about 1000' we flushed the ducks but they hugged the edge of the pond and my bird would not commit eventually ending with the ducks escaping upwind and a fly off. After a few minutes we tracked him down and were off to look for black Red-tails. At first we did not see any at the spots I usually see them but it didn't take long for that to change and we started seeing them all over. I bet we saw 6 dark birds in an hour and a 1/2 but all that were trappable were haggard and the possible passage birds were a long ways from the road. But we did see them and Brian left knowing that I actually can find dark birds.
Then it was time to eat Thanksgiving dinner with my wife, daughters and brother-in-law, which was great. I don't know how she does it but my wife makes the best turkey year after year. We slept off our food coma that night and the next morning I spent cheering on my wife and Tari, my falconry friend Kent's wife, on in the Turkey Trot in Tulsa; both posted good times. Got home loaded the birds, brother-in-law, and apprentice and hit the ponds. Ending a long week with a duck in the bag. We also took my brother-in-law trapping so that he could see what that was like, and I happened to trap a bird that on the inital glassing looked like a passage Krider's because of it's yellow eyes and I could not see the tail from my vantage point but once it was on the trap it was obvious that it was indeed a hag, but a beautiful bird none the less and we released it.
NAFA was a great time. Most everyone that I have talked to who was out hawking caught game. I've since heard of people not going to the NAFA meet because "there was not game" or "you had to drive all day to find game" but then those same people wrote about how they went to other places and drove 45 minutes here or an hour there to find game anyway. I think the Oklahoma meet went great and not just because I live here. Good times, good accomadations, good people and good falconry. Not to mention the non-resisdent hunting license for the week was cheap compared to most states! You can beat that! I definitely had a great time and I can't wait for next year!
Lastly, today is finally the final day of Movember, www.movember.com and I can finally shave off this goofy mustache. Thanks to all who donated on-line or sent me a check! (I wish I was really as young as I look)