"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.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jan 30 – Rebel Meets a Turkey…

Today, Rebel and I headed out to Sutton to a friend’s farm.  I had been there a few times with the bird and there is always a ton of game.  We were really hoping for a rabbit, but I wasn’t holding my breath.  We had had a few near misses on Fox Squirrels at his place and I was very hopeful of adding that species to our list.

Rebel was flying lean and mean at 39 ounces, about the lowest she has been since November.  I was trying to bring the weight back in line down to the weights where she had formally killed ducks, but I could not seem to get her any lower than 39 or so.  Clearly the bird is in better physical shape than when I got her.   Her flights are more powerful and longer, but I wonder if she hasn’t lost some of her quickness.

We set out into the rabbit field near the house in waist high straw grass.  Not much in the way of briars, but I was encouraged by the fact that there was a hag RT perched in a snag at the end of the field when I pulled up.  We bumped her off as soon as I opened the door, so I was not too concerned for Rebel.  Besides, Rebel has held her own many times with hags.  She has never backed down once, so I guess that either makes her confident or stupid…

She didn’t think too much of our efforts with the rabbits.  In her defense, the cover was thick and the visibility was poor.  As I was out in the middle of the field, she took off into the woods after a squirrel.  She chased that one through seven trees before letting it get away on the ground.  Okay, clearly she wanted squirrels so we did our best in the woods instead.

The squirrels were not moving too well today.  We had a few early chases, but nothing lasting too long.  Rebel finally connected on a smallish squirrel as it was fleeing.  She had a beautiful helicopter to the ground after capture.  I traded her off for a squirrel and she let right go.  It seems that the trade offs are becoming even smoother.  She definitely knows she is getting the poor end of the deal, and still seems mad about it, but she hops off quicker for her chick each time.

I put her back in the hood to check out another area.  This was a spot where I had seen fox squirrels in the past.  As we set out, I saw some turkeys ghosting through the woods ahead of us.  I moved forward to get a better view and Addie took off.  That was apparently the signal for Rebel as she turned on the after burners and shot after Addie.  A few of the turkeys took to the wing, but most just started to run along the ground.  I was actually videoing this with a new hand held Hi Def video camera and I caught Rebel swinging out over my right shoulder, heading straight for a turkey and winging over striking it on the ground!!!

I was shocked!  I ran over as fast as I could and got there in time to see the turkey taking off, minus a few feathers.  Rebel was standing on the ground looking at me like, “Dude!  Did you see the size of that thing???!!!”  She had knocked out a few feathers, but I think that as soon as she realized the size of that turkey, she decided that a fight was not in her best interests.  Wow.  I never expected that.  Remember in the beginning when I was talking about how she had stood up to many other hags?  Well, I am pretty sure that hitting that turkey showed some pretty amazing confidence, but letting it go probably showed that she isn’t exactly stupid!

Hope the video turns out!

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