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Posts Tagged ‘squirrel’

Winter Squirrel Hawking

December 29th, 2014

Winter Squirrel Hawking

The Christmas Holiday provided some additional field time this past weekend and on Saturday, Cedar was successful at catching her first fox squirrel this season. Be hunting in the afternoon started like any other as we traveled to one of our favorite hunting grounds near the house. I was doing my job dashing through the woods and shaking trees for squirrels. Cedar did her part and came over to a stand of trees where I noticed a squirrel jumped out of a nest. Cedar rang up in the tree and the Hawk versus squirrel chess match began. Cedar corner the squirrel in the crook of a tree and sat and waited until the squirrel made it’s next move. After about three minutes Cedar decided the game was over and took a swipe at the squirrel in the crook of the tree. Cedar made an aerial maneuver, locked her talons on the squirrel in combat as they tumbled down to the forest floor from canopy. I arrived at the crash site just-in-time to pry the squirrel off of Cedar in order to prevent injury to my hawk. I quickly dispatch the squirrel and Cedar earned her food reward.

 

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Squirrel Hawking with Cedar

December 30th, 2013

Squirrel Hawking with Cedar

Three days ago, Cedar had yet to catch a squirrel while out hunting in the woods.  In the last two days, she’s caught two squirrels and has the fine makings of an excellent squirrel hawk. I could not be happier with her performance in the last couple of days, as we’ve had opportunity to go out each day after Christmas to go hunting.  Cooperation from both the weather and vacation days, we are trying to fit in as much Hunting as we can before the weather turns colder this weekend.

On this day, we had some additional brush beaters in the field able to help with flushing rabbits and Terry provided some additional footage of our hunting excursion.  You can view the full set of pictures over on flickr.

* Photography courtesy of Terrance Robb

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Hunting Success with Indie

January 23rd, 2012

Hunting Success with Indie

I haven’t been out in the field hunting since Christmas Day.  My Falconry bird, Sable, is out of commission until further notice while we get her back into hunting shape.  So it was today that I went out with my sponsor for an afternoon of hunting with “Indie.”  Indie is getting more experience each week and her skill at hunting is increasing with each hunting adventure. While the stories of her hunting excursions are nothing short of educational, it’s an entirely different experience to witness her learning first hand.

After 50 yards into the woods, a squirrel pops out of a nest about 60 feet up in the trees and climbs up higher into the tree.  After hiding there for a minute, the squirrel takes refuge in another nest in the crook of a tree.  Indie comes over a little closer to investigate.  After a few minutes assessing the situation, she lands on the top of the nest and springs the squirrel from his hideout. He bails out and moves through the canopy quickly while Indie watches closely.  The squirrel, looking for another place to hide, finds another nest and pops out a second squirrel. Now there are two going.  Indie watches patiently. After the first squirrel, clearly the larger of the two, moves a few more trees over, he makes is way down the trunk of a tree and that’s when Indie made her move.  She took off from the nest she was perched on and swiped the squirrel off the trunk of the tree as it made it’s way down toward the ground. The Squirrel bailed out and Indie nailed him on the way down to the ground, securing the head and waiting for assistance.

I ran flat out to get to the hawk and squirrel in order to secure the squirrel. Luckily, Indie had the squirrel in a good head hold and the squirrel was unable to do any damage to Indie’s feet, or so I had thought.   Indie was easily traded off to the lure from the squirrel and he was in the bag.  After further inspection of Indie, however, it was discovered that the squirrel had bitten the right talon as was evidenced by the blood and razor-like incisions. This is one of the hazards of squirrel hawking, one in which injuries can come at any time, and in varying degrees of severity.  I’m sure Indie will heal up and be out in the woods hunting squirrels again in no time.

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Sable’s First Squirrel Catch

November 25th, 2011

Sable’s First Squirrel Catch

It was a nice November morning on Friday, the sun was bright and the woods was a bit damp from the previous night’s rain.  It took  a few minutes for Sable to catch up.  She took some high perches in the trees as she contented following along.  The forest had plenty of squirrel nests, complete with vines and open floor.  This was a perfect squirrel woods for the morning and it was a delight to watch Sable finally catch her first squirrel on our hunting adventures.  I’m fairly certain that she has caught squirrels before, as evidenced by her cut-up feet and expert squirrel catching techniques.  I’m excited to watch this hawk grow in each new hunting adventure.

 

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Learning Squirrel Hawking

November 7th, 2011

Learning Squirrel Hawking

The Eastern Fox Squirrel has got to be one of the most crafty critters in the forest.  They are one of the very few arboreal mammals in North America. The enjoy scouring the forest floor and canopy for nuts and other goodies to eat, only to cache them away for the winter.  These animals are highly adapted to life in the trees and on the ground, and they are very good at avoiding predators.  Except when the predator is a trained falconry hawk that can catch and kill squirrels at will.  Just these past two weekends I was witness to my sponsor’s bird, ‘Trasher’ fly extremely well through the woods, find a squirrel, and swipe him off the side of the tree trunk as the squirrel hurried down the trunk to the safety of the ground.  Ten minutes flat, the squirrel was in the bag.  The rest of the morning hunt was just as exciting and rewarding for both falconer and hawk.  Truly exciting to watch and participate with Trasher as she found great perches and followed well through the woods.

Sable is still working up to her first squirrel, but there were some signs this weekend that she has had this experience these crafty critters before.   After watching Trasher fly, take higher perches, and move through the woods towards movement, I figured she was showing her experience at hunting as having done this for two years.  Sable started a little slow at first, but she soon showed the potential for becoming an awesome squirrel hawk.  After a few perches, she launched herself up to this high elm tree where a hornet’s nest had been exposed by the fallen leaves.  She landed on top of the nest and started ripping out patches of paper and sticks.  I was a worried that she might wake them up and end up with a bunch of angry hornets around her, but she quickly gave up for a tidbit on my glove.  I was relieved that she wasn’t harmed by any hornets, even if it is late in the season.

A few trees later, Sable found another squirrel nest, landed on top of it, and started picking out leaves.  This is VERY promising behavior that I cannot teach a young hawk in training.  Some falconry Red-Tails can learn this behavior, only by successful hunting episodes and watching squirrels jump out of nests when disturbed.  Sable already knows this, as is  evidenced by the several small cuts and abrasions that were present on her talons and feet when I trapped her. No squirrel popped out of this nest today, so there was no tussell in the tops of the trees. However, on the next flight, Sable took off high and flew far up ahead of me and spotted something worth chasing.  She connected with a squirrel, and although I didn’t get a chance to see it, she was clearly flustered when I found her.  Sable was on the ground, looking up and suddenly, a squirrel bailed out of the tree and landed on the ground.  A confused Sable darted after it, but couldn’t connect as the squirrel disappeared around a large tree, possibly into a nesting cavity.   I took her up off  the ground and found some blood on her feet, indicating that the squirrel had fought for it’s life and barely escaped.   Sable came away with a nasty bite on her toe, but I’m sure it will heal up in a few days.

I’m looking forward to an exciting hunting season with Sable as we try for more squirrels next time!

 

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