Monday, January 31, 2011

NFA field meet, January '11

The Nebraska Falconers' Association field meet was this past weekend. Officially we met in Kearney, but as it happened all our flying was elsewhere. We started Saturday morning at "the windmill field", a piece of Crane Trust land near Wood River where we have hawked before and to which we were again granted access. I arrived just too late to see Nick Morris's passage Krider's hawk take a cottontail, but did get to see the hawk fly a bit as we tried in vain to catch a second rabbit.

[Krider's on the wing and on the fist. Nick looks pleased, as well he should.]

Stekoa caught a rabbit of his own just across the road, and we also met Eric Johnson's new passage prairie falcon. She's still in training, but progressing very well; Plan A, according to Eric, is to have her ready to go in September, but he's not ruling out some flights at game this season if the right opportunities arise.

After lunch, we adjourned to some public land near Holdrege and flew Nub, the redtail Donna Vorce caught by hand on her way to the November '09 field meet. We got flights at both rabbits and pheasants, but called it a day after Nub caught two big voles and got a bit balky.

Sunday morning found us back near Holdrege, where Stekoa chose not to follow us through the nice easy tallgrass fields, but instead to chase rabbits in a thick windbreak of cedars, through which only the dachshunds could move freely. After fighting our way through the dense branches for twenty minutes or so—during which time we flushed quite a few rabbits, but of course none of them wanted to leave their stronghold—we crossed the road, back to the tallgrass, and waited for Stekoa to join us. Nothing doing. So eventually we surrendered and crossed back over to the cedar hell. As soon as Maxine ran in, Stekoa launched into the darkness of the windbreak; moments later, we heard the squeal of a rabbit from that near-impossible tangle. Stekoa had refused to follow us because he had marked that bunny; fortunately, Max flushed it perfectly.

[Stekoa, watching from on high. Photo by Amanda Kaufman]

Donna got Nub out again, but with moderate expectations: "He's not a morning person." We kept it short, got a couple of flights at bunnies, and that was the weekend.

[Nub in flight]