Well, the skunk monkey has been hittin hard over the past few days. Friday, he was still too fat from his last rabbit, but Saturday was some pretty decent hawking. Ryan and the girls came to town for Boo Ha Ha (they close Brookside down to traffic, and all the stores hand out candy....all the kids dress up and trick or treat, there are inflatables, music, parade, etc, etc) and after doing the family thing most of the afternoon, Ryan and I ducked out for a little early evening hawking. Cleveland Orenthal Brown Jr. (the bird is finally named) is still figuring out what all is going on, but we had some pretty decent slips. None ended up with a squeel, but we did have one notable flight, where he chased one a good fifty yards out or so......The rabbit broke into the open part of the field, and an experienced bird would have sucked it up in a heart beat.....Cleveland Jr is just not there yet.
Sunday found me up in Bartlesville at the crack of dawn, trying to get my longwing fix taken care of....the stars ALMOST aligned for us, but a darn coopers hawk just had to go and screw everything up! I swear, it doesn't matter what kind of bird you are flying....a coopers hawk will randomly show up, and mess everything up....either by eating your bird if you are flying little ones, or by being too irresistable not to chase around for the big ones. On a side note, I think I'm going to fly a lot of coops in my future.....my area is just WAY to concentrated with them, to fly anything else that size (or smaller) safely.....how do you keep your bird from getting eatin by a coops........fly a bigger coops! :). Anyways, after our first duck flight, we headed out to Scott's ranch to look for somemore quackers. A few flights were had, and then it was time for CJ to fly. Again....darn skunk monkey, but we had a really neat flight! There is an old building out there that we were kicking around, and a rabbit got up and headed straight into it. Scott has played this game before, and quickly yelled out that it was holed up in a pipe inside the building. Cleveland Jr took a perch up on the roof, and Ryan and I posted up next to the wall (on the outside of the building)....hindsight....we should have placed ourselves a little more strategically to block some of the escape holes back into the building, but hindsight being 20/20 and all that.....Anyways, Scott shoots the bunny out of the pipe, and Ryan and I are yelling HO HO HO! The bird hesitated just for a second, but then dropped off the roof, burning hard. He closed the gap just as the rabbit bailed back toward the building, and they met up JUST as the rabbit scooted back into the building. CJ SLAMMED into the metal siding, and I'm not going to lie, I was pretty surprised when he picked himself up off the ground! He hit HARD! Ran out of time, so we put the bird up, and headed back to Ryan's house for a little grub. Flew again that afternoon, but he had come down a little too much, and just didn't have the energy he needed. Fed him up well that night, and Monday found me out hawkin at the urban dumpsite.
915 grams was his weight, and he was keyed in! Lots of nonsense, but I didn't get to the field until about 30 min before dark. Life was smiling though, and I managed 7 or 8 slips before dark (did I mention I LOVE when the weather starts cooling off, and the brush thins out!!!!!!). He was giving it all he had, but just didn't connect again.
Sooooo, it was on yesterday to say the least. I wanted one BAD, and the bird was actin like he was ready to go. He was at 915 grams when I weighed him at lunch, and hung out in the car all afternoon hooded....I'm thinking he had to be somewhere around 910 grams or so, when we headed out to the field. I was planning on going out to the dentist office, but Lindz' friend was being induced, and I had to go get Parker from his Nanna's house. We needed to get in another quick session, so we headed back out to the dumpsite, to see what was poppin. Tossed the bird up to a pole, and he immediately took off to his favorite dead tree (which is nowhere near where we were hawkin at.). He knows we get slips in that area, but I wasn't ready to hawk it yet....There is a little creek that runs parallel to the two track that you enter the field on, and it makes for some really nice slips (the creek is dry right now...). When flushed, the rabbits either have to cross the two track, or the creek bed....both of which leave them nice and exposed.
Just like the day before, I managed my first slip within about 10 yards of the car, and my yelling HO brought CJ back to where he needed to be. Managed to get a reflush on the rabbit, which enforced him sticking around, but he didn't close the gap in time. Moved on, and we got another flush directly below the tree he was in. He didn't even flap.....just dropped out of the tree like an anvil, and crashed the ground with a thud. I heard a brief squeel, but he was empty footed when I made my way to him....I'm assuming he grabbed it by the butt or something.
Continued on, and we got a few more slips here and there. Rounded a fence, and I started kicking through the open portion of the field that lines the huge honey suckle patch on the side.....this is where Cleveland JR's favorite dead tree is that I mentioned earlier. It sits there right in the center of that brushy area, and from his vantage point, he is in the perfect position for any rabbit that tries to duck out the side. I started kicking through all of the normal places that hold rabbits, but i just wasn't getting anything to move. All of a sudden, he takes off burning hard toward the tree line, and I see the cotton tail cross the two track, and head toward the trees. CJ catchs up while the rabbit is still in the open, but gets the moves put on him bad, and he was left sitting on the ground, with a foot full of grass. He took a perch up in one of the near by trees, and I continue poking around where I was at. I don't even hear the bells until he lands in the big tree right above me, but he is looking down HARD. There is a small patch of briars under that tree, and I start kicking around, hoping to get another quick flush. Nothing moves, so I keep beating through it, and go around the backside of a tiny cedar. I guess that's when the hidden bunny decided to break....he had been chillin in those briars somewhere, but held tight till I went out of view apparently. I hear the bells singing, and look up just as he is crashing through the bushes.
This rabbit FOUGHT compared to the first two!!!! He was getting jerked all around on the ground, and I'm pretty sure my getting there was the only thing that kept him from getting bucked off....he had one foot on the butt, and the other one was around the shoulders. I grabbed onto the back legs, and that's all it took. He immediately shifted both of his feet to the head, and I gave the bunny the stretch. SUPER psyched about how this went down. I completely proved my purpose.....this was his first "adult" rabbit, and the only one he has needed assistance with thus far.....now he sees another advantage of having me around! Who knows...maybe that little ride helped enforce the "goodness" of head shots too....maybe not though. Maybe it taught him location isn't important when you have a human around....I hope that's not what we learned though :)!
Anyways, this was the first time I traded him off with the goal of hawking tomorrow. Not sure what happened to my brain, but I did my usual trade from last year......being that this bird is smaller, I ended up overfeeding by a TON! LOL. He is now fatter than when I "cropped him up" on his last rabbit, so I'm thinking hawking is probably out for today. This is the last time this will happen though, and we are now in the "swing" of things. On a plus note, he is starting to have eyes for squirrels now, so a couple more bunnies to solidify the following, and then it's all about squirrel hawkin! I have to get this bird in shape for chasin jacks, and that just isn't going to happen chasing bunnies. Don't get me wrong....we will still chase rabbits, b/c he has to learn how to chase them down in the wide open, and that will only happen from him getting juked out of his pants numerous times, but there is nothing like chasing squirrels up and down trees to bulk up your hawk! Also, I still have ducks on the agenda for this year, and I'm going to need a turbo charged, confident bird for that. So that's my update in a nut shell.....number three is in the bag, and all eyes are on number four!!!!
PS Sorry for the lame picture!!!!! I left the camera at home, and my phone just takes crap photos. Bad ones are better than nothing though.......