Friday, December 2, 2016

A day with the goshawks

On the first day of the meet, Jess and I joined host Don Ryan of the IHC and a group of British and Irish austringers for a day of pheasant hawking.


[Paul with his albidus.]

[Ken and John.]

Don leases a sporting lodge on the banks of the River Sneem, and has access to a lovely moor just outside the village.

Don was kind enough not only to share his personal hawking grounds, but also to lend Jessa and me each a pair of spare wellies for the duration. We had been unprepared for how wet the countryside can be even on a dry day—even the hillsides had standing water—and his generosity made the week much more pleasant.

This was a very congenial crew all 'round. Most of them knew each other well already—Ken, a breeder from County Wicklow, had bred some of the goshawks flown, and the dogs run by Keith and Paul were littermates. Cooperation was the order of the day, with everyone taking turns; impeccable manners were given an assist by good dog work and consequently abundant slips.

[The dogs. Not an accessory to the hunt, but a necessary component.]

[Keith surveys the terrain.]

[Ready for a flight. The dog is on point in front of Keith, to the left of the rock, and the pheasant was caught in the ensuing flight.]

[Paul and his big girl take the next slip in this sequence. This flight too resulted in a kill.]

By the end of the afternoon, each of the four goshawks had accounted for a pheasant, we were all pleasantly tired from a full day of exercise, and in the finest Irish tradition we retired to the pub for drinks by the fire.

A few more pictures from the day...

[Setting out.]

[Stephen, Ken, and John with a few of the local beasts.]

[Keith on the moor.]

[Wet and tired.]

[Not tired at all.]

1 comment:

Mark Farrell-Churchill said...

A bit of history on Don's lodge, quoting now from his article in the 2016 IHC Journal:

"I stay at a hunting/fishing lodge that sits beside the main salmon pool of a spate river. The lodge itself is a creaky affair built from stone and wood salvaged from a derelict 'Big House' in the war years when supplies were hard to come by. It was built to replace the wooden lodge burnt down by poachers (who kindly swore they would), prompting the Major who owned the sporting rights to take out extra insurance, the proceeds of which funded the new build."