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Tahoe’s Release Back to the Wild

April 3rd, 2011

Tahoe’s Release Back to the Wild

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It was nearly 18 months ago when my first hawk trapping adventures were successful and I captured my first red-tailed hawk.  A milestone accomplished in my falconry adventure, but it was really just the beginning.  Two successful seasons of training and hunting have culminated into a wonderful falconry experience as I release my first passage bird, Tahoe, back to the wild this weekend.  She is a well-manned hawk, has a wonderfully calm personality and adapted to many different falconry situations with ease.  She was a wonderful educational ambassador for many of the programs and events that I participated with my sponsor.  She received many compliments from fellow falconers on her manning and I was equally pleased with her disposition. Honestly, I cannot take credit for her demeanor, I think I just got lucky to trap such a great bird who manned well and trained quickly. It is with great mixed emotions that I release her back to the wilderness and the life she must lead alone, but I know deep in my heart that this is what must be done.

I’ve been preparing for this day since the adventure started.  A wild hawk is just that:  a wild animal.  I borrowed her from the wild for short time to learn from her and participate in her adventures. We trained together in the beginning in order to establish a good working relationship.  The training experience is all about perspective; if you look at training from the bird’s perspective, then you might say that the hawk allows the falconer to participate.  Without this perspective on falconry, one can not truly appreciate the relationship between the falconer and the hawk.  It is for this perspective and appreciation of my wild hawk that I fully intended to release her back to the wild. My deep appreciation for these beautiful animals is what turned my on to falconry in the first place;  I have no intention of turning my back on these principles now, even after all of the investment into training. In order to completely honor Tahoe and her purpose in the wild, I must release her back into the wilderness where she belongs.

Another aspect of falconry that is a consideration here is my own education.  In order to continue to improve my apprenticeship skills, I believe that I continuously need to improve upon the skills that make a good falconer.  I cannot refine my manning and training practices with the same bird.  I need another training opportunity in order to continue growing as a falconer.  Yet another reason for releasing Tahoe this year and planning for another bird next fall.

I spent two weeks after her last hunt fattening her up with good portions of rich nourishment each day so that she had a good start on her re-introduction into the wild.  During this two weeks, I weighed her once and left her alone in the mews to settle down from human interaction.  When I took this approach last spring, it took her five days to react to me like a freshly trapped red-tail.  She bounced around the mews and wasn’t interested in coming to the glove at all. This year, she has fattened up nicely and is ready for release.  I went out to the mews to get her and she bounded up to my glove without any hesitation.  I took her out to the truck, opened up the giant hood, and she bounced right in.  We drove out to a field where we took a few pictures and released her.  She took a few seconds to gather herself, standing on the fist, and then leapt into the air.  It was a bittersweet moment for sure, but one that I’m proud of and I’ll treasure our days hunting for many years to come.

After we released Tahoe, we watched her for a few minutes adjust to her new perch. It was in this moment that I said my farewell to my wonderful hunting partner for the last two winters.

The Future…

So the falconry journey closes one chapter today and continues on to another. What will the future hold?  What kind of bird will I have next time?  I plan on trapping another red-tailed hawk in the fall and begin the manning process and training program as soon as progress allows.  This will further develop my training techniques and falconry education so that I can gain more experience with red-tails that continues my falconry experience for next time.


** Photo credits go to my lovely wife, who was supportive and helpful throughout these past few years of my apprenticeship.  Her support of me and falconry means the world to me. Thank you sweetie!

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  1. Sue
    April 3rd, 2011 at 15:15 | #1

    Nice write up, and a fine testimonial to a good bird and the time that you put into her to make it so.

  2. Jennifer
    April 3rd, 2011 at 16:08 | #2

    Wow I didn’t know you were releasing her. Bye Tahoe.

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