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MHC Winter Field Meet 2013

February 12th, 2013

MHC Winter Field Meet 2013

The annual Michigan Hawking Club Winter Field Meet was hosted in DeWitt Michigan on Saturday February 2nd, 2013. This year was another great turnout for fans of Raptors and high-powered bird watching.  The day was filled with Falconry, hunting adventures, and all the ‘Hawk-Talk’ you could handle.  I spent the morning out hunting with a large group of folks and the afternoon at the Community Center being an ambassador to aspiring falconers.  It was a long day of falconry culture and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Hunting

Cedar and I led a hunt with over 30 people in the hunting party on a cold February day.  Our morning started out by assembling the hunting party by getting folks organized and arranged in a convoy to drive out to the hunting spot.  After a fifteen minute ride out to a vacant field behind a shopping center, we got jessed up and donned our hunting gear.  I gave a quick introduction to Cedar and our faclonry hunt and then we were off into the field.  The hunting morning provided a great show to all those folks who came out to get an introduction into falconry.  Cedar was exceptionally gracious in flying close to the group and giving great chases on the rabbits that flushed.  For a young bird and a large crowd in the field, she did a great job and put on quite the show with several great chases, spectacular flights, and a great wing-over that just missed the mark.  It was a successful hunt, but no game in the pouch.

A second hunt after Cedar’s was with a goshawk.  The spectator gallery watched off to the side for this hunt, as goshawks can be quite picky about the hunting conditions and other folks in the field.  A short hunt in a small meadow flushed one bunny and two pheasants, which were quite unexpected considering the cold weather conditions for the day. The small hunting crew consisting of the Austringer (holding the goshawk) and a few brush-beaters walked the perimeter of the meadow and around a corn field before springing a pheasant from it’s hideout.  I snapped this picture during the hunt and captured a great shot of the action.

Raptors

Once I was back at the community center and ate a great lunch (the White Chicken-Chili was the *BEST* ), I had some time to talk to other falconers with their birds as well as other first-time visitors to the winter field meet.  One of the falconers brought her Golden Eagle, a rehabilitation animal, to the meet to show folks.  I was amazed at the size of this amazing raptor as well as the intensity of the eyes.  She had a great personality and was good ambassador for falconry. 

The other raptor that stole the show was ‘Yepa’, the Snowy Owl that was trapped in early December.  The falconer had been training her for two months and said that while the training was going well, that she was far from being free flown for hunting.   Owls, while intelligent, are difficult to train because of their personalities.   Owls do not follow the same basic training patterns as other raptors because of their hunting adaptations and methods.  Hearing and auditory cues are a big part of the training program and it’s up to the falconer to figure out what sounds and attentions that the owl responds to during the training.  Yepa, the “White Princess” was very well mannered while on the falconers glove and was amazingly alert and focused while on display.  I was personally awe-struck at her disposition and the amazing color of the eyes.   I can only imagine what training a Snowy Owl would entail.

 

New Folks

My day would not be complete if I didn’t have several ‘Hawk-Talks’ with folks looking to learn more about raptors and the sport of falconry.  I usually bring in Cedar after a little bit of lunch and a few minutes of rest.  Once Cedar came inside for a short educational session, I enlisted the aid of one of participants to help me with Cedar’s beak.  After several months in captivity, Cedar’s beak began to get quite large and was in need of coping.  Coping is like trimming your nails, but for raptors.  So with my assistant’s help, he held Cedar while I performed the coping on Cedar and made her look more dignified.  The assistant was grateful for the opportunity to assist and he learned something about caring for raptors.  In fact, he said that it made his day.  I was glad that I could provide a good experience for him. 

The Annual Michigan Hawking Club Winter Field Meet is a time of year that I look forward to with great anticipation.  It’s somewhat like “Christmas” for falconry, as there are many folks to visit with, goodies to eat, and a variety of falconry goods and wares to look through during the auction. I hope to continue to be part of such a great event for many more years to come with the Michigan Hawking Club.

 

-Cheers!

 

 



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