Monday, January 16, 2012
My good buddy Perry bought a new pup for his wife, and the little guy was being flown to the Tulsa airport on Saturday. Since he was planning on coming to town anyways, we decided to take advantage of the situation (of course), and made plans for a little hawkin! Sunrise found him and I on the search for quackers, and old faithful came through for me yet again. I peeked over the dam wall, and was not surprised, when I found a mixed bag of ducks, casually floating around the pond. The usual gadwalls were there of course, but there were ring necks as well, and then a few that I couldn't really tell what they were......I snuck back to the car, and we flipped back up wind, to go park the subi.
Perry is flying a this years model chamber tiercel, and the two of them have been having some good times this season for sure! They scored a drake hoodie a couple weeks ago, but due to the lack of ducks in his area, have not been able to follow it up with number two. Perry was wanting another one pretty badly, and I was psyched to see how Morris was going to fly. Long story short, the little stinker went and stooped on a red tail a couple times, and they ended up getting locked up for a little bit. They were tumbling to the ground when we took off running toward them (not caring about the ducks by that point), and we ended up flushing them all in the process. His bird ended up being alright though luckily, so we loaded him back up in the car, and continued on down the road.
A short time later, Morris was back in the air, and Perry and I were sneaking quietly toward a pond full of divers :-). Morris had his nose pointed into the wind and he was pumping for all he was worth, so Perry and I took off over the dam wall! Ducks scattered in all directions, and Morris just kept on pumping. I'm watching him, just waiting for something to happen, but nothing. About the time that those ducks cleared the pond though.......he saw them :-). The little dude tucked up like a mummy, and came down with the intention of putting the hurts to something! He keyed in on a ring neck that was trying to turn back toward the water, and just smashed it into the ground!!!!! It was just pretty stinking awesome :-)!!!
My buddy Judah met up with us later in the afternoon, and we took the Prairie out to a spot I like to call the double ponds. We got two pretty darn nice remounts out of her, and though we didn't score a duck on that session (I don't even want to talk about it, I'm so stinking mad.......................ok yeah, we didn't walk all the way to the end of the pond, because we thought the duck had blown out......yeah, it was hiding in the reeds, and took off after I had called her down........yes, I was pissed!!!!! I already told you, I don't want to talk about it!), we ended up catching a gadwall later on.
Yesterday though........oh man.....yesterday was GREAT!!!!!! She went up crazy high (which was cool), but then she drifted off down wind a bit. She kept half tucking like she was about to stoop, and then would just stop. I knew she was over there watching black birds, so I pulled the lure out for a second. That brought her back over of course, but she lost a lot of pitch in the process (maybe came back over at 500 or so?), so I waited her out. Once she saw I wasn't moving, she turned on her tail, and started heading back up. I let her make a few circles, and when she hit the magic spot, I ran in for the flush. The ducks took off the length of the pond, and most didn't even clear the water. The lead duck did though (by maybe two yards...), and that's when she hit it! To be honest, I thought she had completely missed it.......but then the duck just started spiraling toward the ground :-). It happened only 20 yards or so in front of me tops, and I got to her before she had had time to pluck a single feather. I was bending down to help her out with it, when I realized it wasn't moving.....and noticed the caved in portion of it's skull :-).......FIRST HEAD SHOT!!!!!!!!! It was pretty sick.......
Friday, January 13, 2012
Finally convinced a few of the guys to come along for some hawking, and we ended up having a pretty darn good time! On her first flight, she went REALLY high! Unfortunately, she went out SUPER far, and we all ended up loosing sight of her. I knew she was up there somewhere, but I just didn't know where. Maybe five minutes later, Baggles is like "There she is," and sure enough, she was heading up wind of the pond. Her wings were set, but she was stinkin high up there, so we ran in and flushed. She came down and just hammered one! She knocked it back into the water though, took off chasing a "late leaver," and went out of sight again. The other ducks busted when they saw her heading toward the horizon, so I called her down for a quail leg. We went and checked a different pond, and I was super psyched to see three mallards on it. I have been wanting one BAD, so you can imagine how pissed I was, when I told everyone about them too loudly, and they headed for the hills. I was sitting there crying and moaning, when a single duck appears out of no where, and puts in on the pond next to us :-). Put her up again, and this time she stayed in much, much tighter. She went up pretty darn well again too, and when she got into position, I flushed. The duck took off straight toward Chris, and he had a nice front row seat, as she came down and thumped the ring neck to the ground! I decided we have had a lot of normal hero shots lately, so I played with this one a little bit, as you can tell :-)
Thursday, January 12, 2012
I was fortunate enough to have the company of my good buddy Tommy for Tuesday's session, and we were treated with a really nice flight on a group of ring necks. Though she wasn't NEAR as high as she have been flying, she did pretty stinking well, and I honestly think her lower pitch was mainly weight related. I have been flying her really fat to begin with, but Tuesday was just plain excessive! Her behavior after the kill was stinking embarrassing, and she fought the hood for a good bit.....all things I see from her when she is fat :-). She definitely still brought the hammer down with her usual intensity though, so that was good I guess.
Yesterday was too windy to fly, and today is even worse. The weather has gotten nice and cold though, and the wind is supposed to die down tomorrow afternoon, so hopefully we will have a really good session.
You all be well!
Monday, January 9, 2012
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
The downside about blogging about falconry is that one is expected to post about all events both good and bad. I would say that falconry has a similar hold a falconer as drugs to an addict in that that highs are so high that they make you come back for more and more, despite the ever present chance that something bad can happen at any given time. Unfortunately some of the bad struck for me last week when I lost the Gyrkin. A beautiful cold morning held the promise of an extraordinary flight but it was not meant to be.
Mongo started his run out and began to climb a good distance off, which is not uncommon for him. I watched him climb up several hundred feet and then right on cue he started to make his way back toward me and the ducks. Halfway back, however, he turned away and quickened his wing beat back where he had started his climb. I was bummed that this was gonna ruin the intended duck flight, but wasn't too worried. I had a strong signal and being an imprint he never goes to far without checking back in.
Several minutes pass and the signal suggests that the bird has landed. So I pack up my gear and head that way to find him. Judging by the signal strength and direction I'm confident that the bird is about a 1/2 mile away on the other side of the highway. I head on over there and can't seem to pick up the signal again. This still doesn't worry me because he often lands on the ground next to ponds and with the low water there is a bit of a lip that he'll often sit up against, effectively blocking the signal. This has happened a couple of times this year and by readjusting my position I can pick it back up. So I went back to the nearest hill and again had a nice strong signal in the area I expected him to be in. I lay the receiver in my car on the front seat and start to head back to where I'm sure that he is hiding. I left the receiver on when I was driving but didn't have it up and only the static was coming through, when instantly I got a powerful BEEP with the antenna pointing to the front of the truck. I quickly stop the truck and jump out with two more booming BEEPS as I turn down the gain, and then nothing.....
I never heard the signal again. A number of falconers from the area helped in the search, whom I cannot thank enough for giving up their time and gas help scour the county. After a very through sweep of greater surrounding area, and putting the kite up with my wife and kids watching over it, I finally called a local work contact who has a plane and went for a search from the sky that yielded no results. Eventually evening and darkness came.
The field we were flying in is also my training field so the next morning and evening I was out there again with the kite, hoping that it was just a transmitter failure and the bird was around but it was not meant to be. From the hill where I had my last signal to location I got the booming beep in the truck was north to south, the same direction of the highway and my gut tells me he was hit by a truck or the like and carried off to the south. There is also the possibility of electrocution, I did check every pole and transformer for a mile each way but found nothing. Being that he was an imprint and we were flying in my training field, probably 90% of all his flights were at this location, I feel that if he was alive he would have returned to this spot, at the very least he would with the kite in the air. Regardless of what happened I am pretty bummed, it was a very long time coming to get this bird to the point he was at, not to mention that he was an imprint and a lot of fun to have around. I suppose there is still a chance for him to pop up but given the circumstances I am not to hopeful for that outcome.
I have been told I can't judge pitch worth crap......it is what it is, so I'm just going to stop trying :-). ANYWAYS......
we have had a good last few days. She knocked a ring neck back into a pond on Saturday, and then remounted SUPER nicely. I was able to move the rest of the ducks that hadn't flushed initially, and she came down and just barely missed one. Saturday I went hawking with my dad, and she went up pretty darn high again! She came down and did a power bind to a ringneck, and I was a pretty happy camper the rest of the night. Headed up to Bartlesville to watch some of my buddies fly on Monday, and then ended up hanging out most of the day. Ryan and I put the prairie up around four, and she went up high again. Unfortunately, she drifted off way down wind (and out of position), so she didn't have a chance on them. She tail chased for probably a half a mile or so into the wind, but eventually broke off and came back. Flew her again around five, and though she didn't go near as high that time, she had great position, and we ended up catching our first gadwall. I ended up feeding her 150 grams since I knew the wind was going to be a bummer today, so hopefully she will make it back to weight by tomorrow. That gadwall was the first duck we have caught that I could eat, and it was home, grilled, and in my stomach, all within 3 hours of being caught. It was my first time to cook duck, and it turned out delicious! Good times my friends, good times!