Wednesday, October 31, 2018

On The Hunt!

I released Aya last Thursday south of Cambridge. I pulled over near state game lands, far from anyone's farm, in a tucked in corner of the Battenkill River near a covered bridge. If my bird was Thomas Kinkade, she would have plotzed. She was over 1400 grams and without any anklets or leather attached to her for the first time in nearly free years. She flew up into the trees and took a perch and I waved goodbye and thanked her before driving home. It was sad and lovely. That's what any wild-caught bird could want: three years of safe, professional, training before heading out into the job market. I wish her nothing but luck.

Now, time for a new bird!

Yesterday I spent about five hours in my truck, and the vehicles of friends, driving around Washington County looking for my next hunting partner. It's trapping season until January for Falconers, so all of us without birds (or trying to help others find theirs) get into our cars and load up with traps, coffee, binoculars, gear, more coffee, stories, and coffee. It's possibly one of my favorite parts of this sport: trapping. You wake up with this insane hope to pull a dragon out of the sky, and if you use the skills and mentors you have collected: it works.

Hawks are trapped humanely with a live lure. Basically: a small mammal in a wire dome cage covered in tiny nooses. When the hawk sees the critter it lands on the wire cage and its talons get caught in the noose. As a falconer you only drop such a trap right below a hunting hawk in a tree or on a telephone wire and watch that trap carefully. You do not leave it out of your sights. And soon as the bird lands on it you are right there to wrap it gently in a towel and remove the ties from the talons. the bird is uncomfortable for about 3 minutes tops, and then safely hooded to stop it from panicking and taken right to a falconer's home to be outfitted with anklets, jesses, a leash, bells, and a well-fit hood.  If you want to see this entire trapping and securing process there are thousands of Youtube videos, this one was especially good at explaining it all.