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Head Count or Outdoor Adventures?

February 26th, 2010

Head Count or Outdoor Adventures?

The hunting season for eastern cottontail rabbits is coming to an end soon, and so will hunting together outdoors with Tahoe.  I’ll get to experience the molt for the summer and watch my raptor transform her feathers into the beautiful adult plumage that red-tails are famous for.  I was chatting with a friend of mine about my hunting adventures and my success rate as a first time apprentice with a first year bird. Our conversation turned to head count and various ways of measuring success.  Head count is one way of measuring success if you are into keeping score.  There are also various levels upon which to achieve success and be excited about hunting and raptor performance.  Did your bird end up back on your fist at the end of the hunt? If so, you should count your lucky stars and call it a good day. Does she follow you across the field and position herself in a tree in anticipation of flushing game? If your bird caught two mice and missed one rabbit, is that a good day? Or do you lament the fact that your bird missed the ‘big prize’?   Game is game, and I’m pretty sure that the hawk enjoys catching her own snack out in the woods on a hunt, regardless of it being a mouse, vole, squirrel, or rabbit.

People who tend to find themselves on the opposing viewpoint of hunting and outdoor adventures usually don’t understand why people persue outdoor recreational activities. People don’t go fishing to catch fish. If sportsmen were in it only for filling their creel pouches, they’d call it ‘catching’ instead of fishing.  Going out Hunting and practicing Falconry with Tahoe are ways to get closer to witnessing the natural predator-prey relationship in nature and experiencing the outdoors.  I don’t do it for the sole purpose of killing rabbits or catching as many squirrels as I can chase around the woods.  It’s about the being in the outdoors and enjoying the fresh air, the wind, the sunlight, the trees, the forest, and all the little things that nature has to offer that you can’t see any other way.

So with the hunting adventures for this season winding down, I’m certainly not looking forward to hanging up the wetland boots and falconer’s gauntlet until next October.  As a first year apprentice, I *am* thankful that I have learned invaluable knowledge in my first year, and have a good game hawk that can only improve as the years continue to keep us together. I have also enjoyed many walks through the wilderness this winter, even if it is just a few miles from the house and I have a fantastic hunting partner who flies through the trees while I walk in the woods.

What do you think?  Please leave your comments!

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