Rebel was a bit high at 39.7 but he has been hunting well above this weight lately. In all honesty, I don’t have a clue as to what this bird’s weight should be. One day he flies poorly above 39, the next he crashes nests at 41.8 and chases like there is no tomorrow. Either way he seemed eager to get out as he did not hunt at all on Saturday due to Maddox’s marathon wrestling tourney (won his very first wrestling match!).
The weather was perfect and the sky was clear when we set out. We started off just around the house figuring that there must be squirrels in the ancient live oaks that surround the place. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Rebel started off following pretty well, but he started lagging behind as we failed to flush him some game. I got pretty nervous when we spotted a hag RT soaring over us with Rebel still pretty far back. At one point, I thought that maybe the soaring bird was Rebel, but then I heard his bells much nearer. Whew. While I am anxiousto get this bird to learn to soar and follow, I am leery of him heding to Florida if he gets into a soar at this weight.
So we came up on the first slew and Rebel just wouldn’t get into position. He stayed way behind me in a perch, which could barely afford him the opportunity to see the ducks flush, much less make a stoop on one. Well, he had to learn some way, so I went ahead with the flush. I could almost see the light bulb go off when the second wave of a dozen wood ducks beat the hell out of the water and air, hightailing it to safer climes.
He started following right on top of us from that point on except for one time when he saw a squirrel above us that we had missed. He dove on it several times, but it made it down into the swamp and sweet muddy freedom.
We headed on down the levy and of into some hardwoods where Rebel unsuccessfully chased another squirrel. We got up about twenty ducks over here in one flight and about a dozen in another. I think I am going to have to wheedle the gate pass out of my buds in the very near future… This place is simply crawling with ducks.
We headed on through the woods with Rebel occasionally leading the way now. At one point, he took up a perch in a snag over looking the creek and marsh on one side and a small black pond on the other. As I walked up, two wood ducks flushed, scaring the holey hell out of me, as I was practically right on top of them. They jumped right up off of the lake but when they got six or seven feet up, they saw Rebel diving like a bullet right on them. They both turned immediately and dove down into the water with Rebel zeroed in on them. He nailed one as it hit the water and drew feathers. He didn’t hold it though as the water completely startled him.
The ducks took off but Rebel sat right there in that slew not knowing what to do. It was hilarious, this bedraggled bird trying to keep his wings out of the water, up waist deep in black muddy mirk. He hopped to the glove for a tidbit and I carried him out of the water. When I got up the bank, everyone was remarking on how beautiful the stoop was he had taken on the ducks. We were all oooing and ahhing but Rebel was not interested. He wanted to explore this water thing a bit more.
He hopped back down and headed over to the water again, and hopped right in. He started waggling his tail feathers, then splashing his wings and finally doing a “duck dive” getting his entire head under! It was divine comedy! Clearly this bird had had very little experience of this sort before. He looked just like Brynn did when she learned she could jump into the pool without me there to catch her. We were all sitting on the bank rolling in laughter. Especially when he decided he was done with his black water bath and came to join us. He couldn’t fly so he sort of flailed his wings as he hopped on these sodden chicken legs of his up the bank. This was a mental Picasso that will be etched in my brain forever. Too funny.