Happy New Year 2016
This past Sunday I had the pleasure of an all-you-can-hunt area with several other favorite personality falconers. We started early in the morning to ensure a full day of falconry and time for everyone to fly. The area was large enough for each hunt to take a new, and separate area of fresh hunting ground to kick out the bunnies and squirrels.
Cedar was the second hunt of the morning, and it’s always a challenge to hunt her when you change up the normal routine. Usually we hunt in the afternoon at close places around the house, and that provides for a good routine: empty crop, no food for a day, and an urgency to hunt before the dark. So, when we get up early and begin the hunt around 10:30 am, that tends to change up the routine that requires a little more patience. Cedar was put up in a tree, and took several minutes to cough up her pellet from the previous day. Raptors usually produce a casting several hours after their last meal, so in this case, she hadn’t cast yet from the previous day and needed to do so before hunting. She usually takes a few minutes in her first tree before hunting anyway, but today it took *extra* time.
Once that nasty business was out of the way, she took to a higher perch and settled in again, but higher, and with a commanding view of the surrounding area. The first rabbit flush was a quick one, and due to her height, and the obstructing tree branches, she missed a quality slip. With the additional people in the field, it was also possibility of confusion for her and missed where the action was. Not to be deterred, she moved up in the field ahead of the group and proceeded to await the next flush. The second flush was not too far afterwards, and she took a good swipe, but pulled up and took another perch out of sight. At this time, I’m thinking that the early morning routine is too unsettling and the additional folks in the field are too much for her. I pull out the lure to end the hunt once I found her another 50 yards away up in a tree. I pulled out the lure right under her, and she wouldn’t come down. She’s never refused the lure before, so this was perplexing. She jumped from her branch and wasn’t coming in my direction. She took a wing-over right into a bush and crashed the brush hard. I was rewarded with the success sound of her connecting with a bunny. I laughed at the disobedience for a second and immediately ran to give the assist on her capture. I quickly got a good picture and rewarded her for her efforts!
The remainder of the day was followed by two other successful hunts for the other falconers and we ended our afternoon with gratitude for our hosts for the day.
Hunting, Rabbit Hunting PDF
Fall Hunting Success
The warmer weather late this fall has been so far welcome from many Michiganders who have experienced some pretty good cold snaps over the past two winters, including additional snowfall. These days are great for falconry and the small game hunting season. The rabbits, squirrels, and even the mice are out in the fields, plenty active for a hunting raptor in search of it’s next meal. When Cedar is out hunting, anything small, furry, and scurrying about are not safe in the woods. Cedar is hunting really well this season and caught this rabbit 10 minutes into todays hunt. The expanded brush-beating crew got the assist and enjoyed a good walk in the woods with Cedar. I hope to have many more hunts together with my family!
Hunting, Rabbit Hunting PDF
It’s not too often that I get to see a Barred Owl, let alone two of them. The story is fascinating for sure, but it was over within two minutes and I was fortunate enough to catch this pic of this guy sitting down in the meadow, just in front of my deer blind before dark. One owl called to the other, and one of them flew over my deer blind and tackled the other out of a pine tree. They tussled and tumbled to the ground, making amazing sounds the entire battle. It was over in a few minutes, with one owl bouncing out of the brush and taking a breather out in the open for a minute.
After a brief rest, he jumped back up into the pine trees, in pursuit of the other intruder. The chase continued in another part of the forest.
Deer Camp 2015
Deer Camp 2015 was quite the banner year for our annual deer camp crew. With a full crew of 9 hunters for the year, several were successful within the first two days. These are some of the best days of fall, hunting out in the wilderness with just the birds and the deer to keep you company. Of course, the camp fare is second to none as we all enjoy great meals.
Deer Camp PDF
This past weekend was the annual 2015 HawkFest at Lake Erie MetroPark in Brownstown Township, Michigan. This annual event celebrates the migration of raptors from Canada as they cross the ‘land-bridge’ from Ontario to Michigan and continue their way to their winter resting grounds. If the migration is timed correctly, and the weather is good, the migration of hundreds of thousands of hawks can be observed. The weather this past Saturday was not the greatest for bird watching, raptor migrations, or outdoor nature events, but after the front cleared out the humidity and the rain, the afternoon turned out to be an enjoyable Saturday afternoon. The hawk flights picked up in the afternoon and raptors could be observed readily in the afternoon hours. Several Osprey, Bald Eagles, and smaller accipiters could be observed from the main viewing area. A small kettle of Broad-Winged Hawks formed over the nature center for a few brief minutes as nature enthusiasts looked on with binoculars.
A few club members, including myself spent time out in the trapping/banding blind catching Coopers Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Each year, licensed bird banders trap, band, and collect measurements on the migrating raptors that traverse across the river to keep moving on from their northern territory. The biggest migrating hawk by the numbers is the Broad-Winged Hawk. Members of the Michigan Hawking Club an other local nature organizations come to the HawkFest to share their love of raptors with others and enjoy all of nature’s gifts. In addition, many members of the Michigan Hawking Club donate their time and expertise in Falconry to come to the event for the day to provide Hawk Talks to HawkFest attendees.
The picture below, taken by Krystal Hoag shows Cedar and myself presenting falconry lore to a few of the onlookers attending the event this past Saturday. There were many folks who took in the celebration of raptor migration and on Sunday the Club Booth was well attended. This is one of the tenants of the Michigan Hawking Club, to provide educational programs and ‘HawkTalks’ to interested attendees.