WoooHooo! Went out to harmony today to try a few duck slips with a friend. There are several small lakes right off of the roadway and my buddy has seen a ton of ducks out there regularly so we went to check it out. It was pretty nippy after church but the girls wanted to accompany me, Jordan to drive my truck and Brynn to take pictures. The sky was clear and blue and the cold was exhilarating.
Rebel was weighing 1135 grams, about 35 grams short of where he was yesterday. He was keen and ready to go. He was pretty vocal just getting out of the mews and very quick to the glove which always signifies a good hunt to come.
My buddy’s entire family wanted to see the bird fly so we went to one of the lakes right off of the street. There were almost a dozen black dabbling ducks on the water that were paying us very little attention. Rebel came out of the hood calmly and let the little ones touch his feathers before I pulled his bullet jesses and set him up. From the start he acted hungry. He was intently focused on me, waiting for me to reach in my pocket for a tidbit.
His first perch was on the wrong side of the road so I called him to me and threw him up in a pine on the edge of the lake. The ducks saw him land and began to swim away. Rebel was watching them pretty intently so I figured I should go ahead and flush. I ran at the lake yelling like a madman and they flew but only to the other side of the lake. They didn’t want to get up too high because they had seen the hawk. Unfortunately, Rebel hadn’t budged from his perch. Uh oh. I was still worried that his dunking the other day might have put him off of ducks as prey.
I decided to Rambo through the woods to come at the lake from the other side and flush the ducks for Rebel. Right as I got in position, Rebel decided to fly closer to me… I am going to need this bird to take psychic lessons so it can more clearly read my mind. I was clearly wanting the bird to stay in position. Oh well. It wasn’t a bad place to be so I flushed anyway.
Rebel took off after them trying to cut them off! Their path was taking them to the other end of the pond and across the road. The led ducks made it across but the trailing ones saw Rebel and dove back down to the water. Rebel swooped on one before he made it to the water but pulled up short. I think he was still spooked by the cold swim from last week. He was sitting in a tree almost right above the ducks. I went ahead and reflushed them but he did not give chase. I was bummed.
Right next to the lake was a beautiful rabbit field that Scott was telling me was full of rabbits every day. I thought maybe we could flush a rabbit for Rebel. He came over and started soaring over the field. It was beautiful to watch. As I pushed past the eight-foot tall ragweed, I saw another lake behind us. A lake with about twenty ring necks on it! Rebel had circled behind me and landed in the pines. As I moved out to get a better look, I flushed the ducks early. Rebel was way far away. I had blown it. Sigh.
Well they scooted out ahead of me. Not lucky enough to have them go down on the far side of the lake twice. I went back to trying to flush a bunny, when Rebel took off straight down the road. Hmmm. I went out to the road to follow and Scott told me that he was diving down on the other side of the road and thought he got something. We ran over but Rebel wasn’t in sight. Didn’t hear the bells ringing either. Hmmm again.
Right as I was pulling out the tracker, Jordan spied Rebel about two steps in front of us in a pile of feathers. He had nailed one of the ring necks as it was crossing over about to pitch into the lake on the other side of the road! I didn’t get to see much of the flight except the beginning, but Scott did. Smart bird had decided to wait and attack over land instead of taking another dive! I was pumped.
By the time I got there, Rebel had eaten the entire head minus the bill which was sitting on the ground. It reminded me of one of those Daffy Duck cartoons where something blows his lips off and he can’t talk until he finds his bill and puts it back on his face. Jordan and Brynn were both fascinated and appalled by the bill. Jordan had to take a picture.
Rebel was steady plucking feathers as we came up and I traded him off with a DOC. He saw another in my pocket so he had to have that too, the pig. I leashed him up and headed back to the truck, grin on my face like a proud papa. My buddy and his family were pretty excited too. Jordan and Brynn were a little grossed out but were also pretty enthralled.
We drove out as the sun was starting to set. By the time we got home, it was dark and I put the bird up in the mews. I cleaned the rest of the duck by breasting it and removing each thigh/leg. I put these up and decided to give Rebel the rest. He was pretty excited. He ate the whole thing. The entire thing! His crop was as big as he was! Definitely not going to be able to fly tomorrow. So worth it.