"Falconry is not a hobby or an amusement: it is a rage. You eat it and drink it, sleep it and think it. You tremble to write of it, even in recollection. It is, as King James the First remarked, an extreme stirrer of passions." T.H. White

The Godstone and Blackymor, 1959 (First American Edition) Van Rees Press, New York, page 18.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dec 28 – Rat-Tailed Squirrel…

Rebel and I buzzed down to Georgetown again this afternoon along with Addie for a late afternoon hunt.  It seems the squirrels in this place tend to favor morning activity, but we were still hunting the now elusive ducks.   Rebel was flying heavy at 44.8 ounces but looking strong and eager.

The temperature was just under 30 degrees but that air was clear and the sun was shining.  There wasn’t much ice on the lake so I was encouraged.  We came in to our first slip from a different angle but Rebel was again behind me when the ducks flushed.  She never even saw them to give her now usual half hearted chase.  Oh well.  We pressed on hoping to round the corner and get up a nice brace of woodies.  I could hear them calling but I was worried that they were out over the river and not on our lake. 

As we rounded the corner, Rebel spied a young squirrel racing for its nest.  She chased it through a few trees with a couple of near misses, but the spritely guy made it to its nest, chattering all the while.  Rebel stared down the nest for about a minute before charging in.  She hit that nest hard shaking everything around her and dislodging half of the nest material.  The squirrel screamed and ducked out it’s bottom entrance but Rebel had it by the tail.  It barked and chattered and finally managed to pull free and leap through the Cyprus trees our over the lake.  I wasn’t sure what I was seeing at first because it didn’t look quite like a squirrel at all.  It took me a minute to put my finger on what was missing…  It’s tail fur!  It was running through the limbs with that back half of its tail missing all the fur!  Half rat, half squirrel on the run!  Rebel had evidently stripped the fur off of the distal end of the tail as the squirrel pulled free!

I started screaming at Rebel and chasing the squirrel but she was locked up tight on the nest.  She had the sensation that she had a kill between her talons and she was squeezing away.  I know she watched that squirrel go tearing off, but she kept right on squeezing that nest.  She kicked and pulled a little bit and finally figured out that she did not have a squirrel in her mitts.   She was a tad bit pissed, you could say, so she took it out on the nest.  Not a twig was left standing.  I am pretty sure even the big bad wolf would have been impressed with how thoroughly she blew away that house of sticks.

We headed on around the lake and chased a couple of more squirrels but it was getting dark and we needed to head in.  Of course, right as I decide that, Rebel finds another squirrel to chase.  I set off running, as it is looking like she might be successful when Bam!  Lightning strikes my right ankle and I fell.  I had fallen victim to one of our famous yankee ankle breaker traps in my hurry.  Friggin’ gophers.

I sat there not sure what to do.  I was about two miles from the truck, my bird in a tree looking at me funny with dark setting in.  All I could think at the time was, “Why do I keep getting myself into these situations?”  I sat up and re-laced my right boot all the way up and discovered that I could walk okay.  The bird was intent on me and came right to the glove when called.  Apparently the squirrel had made it to a knothole but I didn’t check.  I went ahead and leashed up Rebel and we hobbled out of the woods.  First sprained ankle in a long time.

We didn’t kill anything but time but even with the injury it was a good day.  Still wonder how that little squirrel is making out telling his friends about why he only has half a tail.  You know, squirrels use their tail for communication, I believe.  I wonder how bad having the fur on you tail plucked out affects your squirrel-accent?  More questions for God when I meet him I suppose…

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