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Tahoe’s Final Hunt

March 20th, 2011

Tahoe’s Final Hunt

It was a chilly first day of spring, but it was at least dry enough to get out one last time with Tahoe for a good hunt.  It was only fitting that my sponsor offered to come with, as we walked through a nice section of woods early on Sunday morning. The spring brings with it the end of bunny hunting and the warmer weather and winds make for difficult flights, especially with the tendency for Red-Tails to soar with the warmer air currents.  While the day did not include warm updrafts for soaring, the winds were no less subdued for a brisk spring day.  So I coaxed Tahoe out of her box and turned her telemetry on for one final morning of hunting.

We started out our usual circle looking in some tall brush for bunnies, but the brush only yielded a handful of golf balls, apparently from someone’s summer round of practice.  Tahoe found a comfortable perch and continued looking down at the grass.  With the warmer weather, the mice and voles were plenty active today, and Tahoe didn’t mind watching for a quick tasty snack.  Two stoops later, I had to walk Tahoe over to another set of trees and let her up to watch for larger quarry.  Her first follow up showed some decent interest, and a few moments later, was diving down into the woods after something small.  I watched her teardrop out of the tree, down into a bundle of sticks, and she proceeded to walk quickly along the length of a log, grasping after something small.  The chipmunk was in quite a hurry to get away from Tahoe, and Tahoe gave a good chase and wouldn’t let up.  A few moments later, the exercise repeated itself, only with a large vole as the quarry.

I finally got Tahoe away from the smaller animals and perched her high up.  She followed along very well, and went up ahead a few trees. I flushed a rabbit, directly towards her  and she stooped into the brush to catch it.  She juked to the right at the end of her stoop at the same time the rabbit dodged to the left and the bunny was gone into the high grass.  A good effort and some good practice.   I was pleased with her performance, even if she was not terribly responsive.  Our brush beating efforts were fruitless the remainder of our walk back to the car, and we decided to try another hunting area.

A short drive from the park, we went further south to a great spot with plenty of game.  I withdrew Tahoe from the giant hood in a good stiff wind, and we walked into the tall grass, towards the trees to get a good perch.  Tahoe took the low perch, and sat on top of a log pile for the first few minutes to get her bearings.  In less than the time that it took for her to settle in, a rabbit jumped out of the brush pile she was sitting on.  She turned, made s light move towards it, but decided that the bunny had gotten the better of her, and it ran off behind her.  This new area was full of game.  In another 30 minutes, we flushed three more rabbits and three woodcock out of the brush, all without a decent chase from Tahoe.  In her last high perch, she watched the ground very intently and dove out of the tree, into the tall grass and came up with a medium sized vole.  Snack Time!  Tahoe wolfed down her prey quickly and promptly rewarded her with a quick tid-bit from the glove. While it was not the ending that I had hoped for, it was a good morning getting Tahoe a few good chases and a successful meal to end her hunt.  I called her out of her last perch with the lure and she quickly returned for our walk back to the car.

With the hunting season over, and the warmer weather approaching, we have hung up the falconry gauntlet for the season and we are now preparing to release Tahoe back to the wild after two hunting seasons together. I am satisfied with our time together and I look forward to returning her to her habitat and her true home out in the wilderness.

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