Bailey caught his bunny!
February continued my adventures into falconry with the hunting season in full swing. Carolyn invited Roman and I to the Wisconsin falconry club’s winter meeting. It was a wonderful time, with lots of hunting, many beautiful birds, interesting seminars, and great people all around!
The objective: bunnies. Hunting rabbits gives you an amazing appreciation for them - how fast and agile they are, and how incredibly they can manage to survive despite being eaten but just about everything. The speed, the spinning leaps, and the close calls where more often than not the rabbit gets away - hunting with a bird gives you a sublime appreciation for this balance between predator and prey.
Carolyn getting Bailey ready to fly.
Falconer and his bird, Patti.
Bailey’s not so sure about those big girls!
Wing-powered door hatches.
Our hawking party started with almost 50 people - one bird being flown at a time. This allowed us to flush rabbits quite effectively - but it was pretty crazy to see everyone descend into the fields like that. Here, Bailey has caught his bunny. I got to see the end flight - it was quite incredible. He blasted through the brush to nab the rabbit, tumbling head over heels and ending up with a good grip.
Trio of falconers with their red-tails. Bailey is a bit concerned about the size of those big girls. He kept eying them warily.
Bailey waiting for us to kick up some more rabbits.
Falconer with her gyrfalcon/saker hybrid.
The falcons have a very different hunting style than the redtails do.
Longwings are amazing in flight!
Falconer and his peregrine falcon.
Beautiful, beautiful bird!
The speed of this peregrine was incredible to experience up close. (The wire is telemetry equipment to help find the bird if it were to become lost).
The falconer released a chukar partridge for the peregrine to catch - The chukar tried to use the car as a hide– no such luck (most people do not fly birds only on bagged game - but for the purposes of the meet and seeing the bird fly it was used).
Merlin – tiny guy!
One of the few golden eagles used in the U.S. for falconry. Master falconers can apply through a lottery for a golden eagle permit - bald eagles cannot be kept/flown for falconry at all.
This falconer is from Minnesota. The main speaker for the event is one of the world's authorities on hunting game with a golden eagle. I learned a lot from the experiences he had to share - but came back with one main idea - if you work with eagles they are like motorcycles. It's not if you get hurt, it's when. They are amazingly powerful birds, and not to be taken lightly in any way.
He’s a male, so a small eagle – still huge!
Carolyn’s posse (Mbala and myself included!)
I feel very lucky to have been able to have such incredible experiences this winter with such a fantastic group of people. I've gone hunting since (and have more photos to share) - I have loved every minute of it!