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MM and JH 4/12/07

Monday, July 28th, 2008 Posted in Journal 2007 | No Comments »

4/12/07

JH 8.6 lbs.

MM 7.6 lbs.

As my time flying in Lathrop winds down I want to make the most of it. Despite the fact that it is such an ugly place to fly a bird, it has, over the years, given me countless good times with thousands of slips. Today would be a real test, the wind was blowing 20 plus mph and it seemed that in each field I went to, someone was doing something. Construction is everywhere and the lush green fields that the jacks had lived in are disappearing almost daily. The time has come to move on.

JH:

I hunted the large hay field and did not see that many jacks. The wind was causing trouble, but JH was having a good time playing in it, sometimes going high up overhead looking for slips. The jacks were running down the train tracks with JH hot on their butts, it was fun to see. I went over to the field from hell hoping for more slips, but the wind seemed to gain in strength and it got to the point where I figured I might turn back and call it a day. But I had walked out into the hot zone and figured I’d give it a try. I frankly did not think that even JH could fly down a jack in this strong of a wind. But when a jack flushed from off of my left, directly into the wind, JH exploded off the fist with attitude and flew the jack down like there was not even a breeze. If I had not seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed it. Unreal!!

JH and his new cuffs

MM:


MM gave it the old college try but was overmatched on this day by the wind. He did have one good slip where he closed on a jack but just did not have the gas to finish the flight. I fed him up and called it a day.

MM and his new cuffs

MM and JH 3/30/07

Monday, July 28th, 2008 Posted in Journal 2007 | No Comments »

3/30/07

JH 8.8 lbs..

MM 7.5 lbs..

JH:

Jacks have been a little harder to find these days, not sure why, but I have had to go to 2 and 3 fields to find a good slip. I started out in the big alfalfa hay field and only saw 3 jack rabbits which is highly unusual. I had walked the entire field; part was flooded but most was dry. I was at the far end of the hay field up near the factory and turned back to work the field heading back to the truck, which, I might add, was a long ways away. JH was looking everywhere for a jack and I love that he was hunting as intently as I was. There were a few jacks running along the top of the bank, running down the train tracks. JH had left the fist a couple of times flying low and fast only to swoop up the bank and be right on top of the jacks who were, to say the least, freaked out. They only got away because they flung themselves off the other side of the bank, down into the road and some trees where JH does not like to go. It was fun to watch predator trying to outsmart prey. JH left the fist again and started flying hard and building speed. I figured he was going to swoop up the bank again but this time he just kept flying low and fast. He was going down the edge of the hay field where there is alfalfa hay on one side and dry grass, open dirt and the rail road track bank on the other side. By now JH was ¼ mile away and hard to see, still hauling ass. I could just make out a jack rabbit running just off the edge of the hay and it was darting back and forth realizing that it had no place to go. Its only means of escape would be a very quick turn and jump; the option of going left or right and using its speed was no longer there, it could not outrun JH. The jack made one or two quick turns, JH made some slight adjustments and hooked the jack rabbit, dust flying everywhere!

MM:

I have been feeding MM quite a bit. I want his weight to come up. I fly all my birds fat and MM, being an imprint, should fly even fatter. With all the added flying and hunting it has taken a while for his weight to start coming up but it is. MM is not your typical imprint in the sense that you would think he loves people and thinks people are his mother or father. He is totally dependent on people and looks to them for food but, on the other hand, his association with people has not been pleasant, given what had to be done to him to get him fixed. So, from his point of view, he likes people but hates them too, all at the same time. During his training I saw both sides once in a while. As an example, he’d be as nice as any eagle can be, and then, for no apparent reason, turn and get a little nasty. I am not talking about the normal behavior that imprinted eagles will show, this is different.

I had saved the best fields for MM and again started in the fiddle neck field. MM was ready, searching from the second the hood came off. Moving slowly, looking for ears, we hunted the whole field. MM had some nice flights and three near catches. He clearly builds up, becoming more aggressive with each slip. He went from closing on the rabbit and trying to hook it as he went by, to coming in low and fast and slamming into the dirt after the jack.

I went over into the other fiddle neck field and MM launched on a meadow lark. MM is so dialed in that a meadow lark flushing out of the grass is enough to have him pull the trigger. He flew out in a straight line and several more larks kept flushing and MM found himself out over a road with a lot of traffic. Not knowing what to do he climbed higher and went over the trucking warehouses and disappeared. GREAT! I’m thinking he’s going to land in the road and get smashed by an 18-wheeler. I raced back to my truck and went tearing over there, only to see nothing? I pulled out the receiver and the signal was coming from a large, actually massive, trucking yard parking lot with a security gate and guards! All that was going through my mind was MM sitting on the pavement and a big truck turning him into a grease spot. I was panicking, okay! The guards were, let’s say, a little taken aback by this person who drove in, sliding to a stop, and starts telling them that his eagle is in their parking lot. One was instantly on the phone to the swat team while the other one was trying to make sense out of my story. Look ladies, I said, I have another eagle in my truck. I showed them JH which I’m sure caused them both to relax. The same gal got back on the phone to call off the deployment of the swat team, telling them to stand down. I tracked MM deep into the parking lot, came up to a fence and, on the other side, found MM sitting in a grass field looking at me. So, with my time running short, I called it a day.

Mini-Me and JH

Monday, July 28th, 2008 Posted in Journal 2007 | No Comments »

3/26/07

JH 8.10 lbs

MM 7.3lbs

JH:

I went into the new hay field which is now completely covered in fiddle neck. JH was looking for ears — jack rabbits will raise their ears, listening for predators, and JH is very good at spotting them. In the bright green field the jack rabbit’s ears are a sunset orange due to the blood running though the thin skin. I can tell when JH has spotted something; I don’t usually see them but he does. When the ears go down it is usually a signal that the rabbit is moving, most likely running. JH launched off the fist with power and extreme intensity, building speed as only he can do. His full wing strokes were becoming shorter and quicker, he just kept building speed. I still could not see what he was after but I knew whatever it was, it was running and running fast! Suddenly I saw a flash of brown in a clearing. A large male black tail jack rabbit was in full after burn, back legs easily going past its nose, accelerating at a tremendous rate! JH was angling slightly to the right and still building speed. I was still watching the jack, mesmerized by the acceleration and speed, when, from out of nowhere, a dark shadow came in and swallowed up the jack rabbit. Once again I walked out of the hunting field shaking my head at what I had just seen.

JH and his rabbit "Beautiful" Lathrop Ca.

JH and his rabbit

MM:
He flew his ass off today and just did not catch one, it happens. He is now returning to the fist from any distance and has made the connection that he needs to get back on the fist for another slip.

A tired young eagle

A tired young eagle

Mini-Me 3/26/07

Monday, March 26th, 2007 Posted in Journal 2007 | No Comments »

3/26/07

JH 8.10 lbs.

MM 7.3 lbs.

 

 

JH:

JH and his jack rabbit 

MM:

 

He flew his ass off today and just did not catch one, it happens. He is now returning to the fist from any distance and has made the connection that he needs to get back on the fist for another slip.

"beautiful" Lathrop
“beautiful” Lathrop

3/24/07

Saturday, March 24th, 2007 Posted in Journal 2007 | No Comments »

3/24/07

The boys had a day off yesterday because we went down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium; had a very nice time. We got home late last night and this morning I just loaded up both birds and headed down to the fields. I didn’t weigh them because it wouldn’t have mattered anyway; I was flying them no matter what the scale said.

JH:

I hunted the entire big hay field and only saw two jacks. JH took one slip that was ridiculously long, covering the entire length of the field, went in on a jack, missed, and flew all the way back to the fist. Next, I went to the new field which is across from the water treatment plant and is, at the moment, a very nice field of fiddle neck, which is about knee high, just over the top of my boots. The fiddle neck does, however, have a slight sting to it and after a while you begin to notice that your skin is irritated. I walked around most of the field, saw some jacks, and JH took another long slip. Then he ended up slamming into a sitter not more than ten feet in front of me.

Jackhammer

MM:

I drove over to a new field (it’s new for me to actually hunt in but I have known about this field for years). I never wanted to hunt JH in it because he would not tolerate the massive amount of humanity that surrounds this small field. Hunting in this field all I can see is a mass of manmade ugliness McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr, Burger King, Denny’s, two gas stations, ITT Tech School of Higher Learning, Best Western Hotel, a glass factory complete with railroad cars and a small electric power plant. There’s more but I think I made my point. MM does not seem to be bothered at all so I can fly this field which is teaming with jacks. I wish I would have weighed MM because he seemed just a little off this morning; flew fine but not quite 100%, maybe 95%. This field is great because from the very first step into the field you can flush a jack rabbit, which is what happened. All I could see was the fiddle neck parting as the jack ran off. MM was closing fast and went in but missed. I got 3 more slips where I thought he could have caught one but didn’t, and had just about covered the entire field. I was going down the last stretch when a jack flushed and headed right for the glass factory fence. I was sure that MM was going to slam into the fence, he was flying with such power and intent. Just as the jack got to a gravel road that runs along the front of the fence it turned right and headed down the road. MM flew harder, recognizing his chance, and closed on the jack which then freaked out and turned left into the fence, looking, I’m sure, for a hole to get through the fence. MM slammed into the jack as it went under the tumbleweeds and trash that has accumulated at the base of the fence and caught #3.

MM is in there somewhere on his rabbit

MM is in there somewhere on his rabbit

3/19/07

Monday, March 19th, 2007 Posted in Journal 2007 | No Comments »

3/19/07

JH 8.5 lbs

MM 7.4 lbs

JH on jack rabbit

JH:

I went to the field from hell, walked the entire thing and did not get one slip. Then I went to the new hay field, and saw one jack which JH caught.

MM:

MM on rabbit #2

MM on rabbit #2

I wanted to get MM out because it seemed like it was getting hotter by the minute. I drove over to the fiddle neck field, west of the little power plant, and as I drove up 5 jacks were milling around on the road and went into the field. I got MM ready and went past the junk pipes and unhooded him. This field is not flat; it has man-made hills and bowls similar to a golf course. I walked out on a hill and a jack flushed, heading out into the middle of the field. MM launched and closed and I thought he caught it! Nope, he was up and came back to the fist. I continued hunting. MM had two more nice near catches and then chased one heading right for a parking lot for ITT (man, I hate the way this area looks).

Anyway, he pulled off which is good because the flight was going to take him directly into the parking lot. MM made two big circles, gaining height, and flew all the way back to the goat field. I found him sitting on the ground getting stooped at by the male red tail and a pair of Swainson hawks who had obviously survived their migration up from Mexicooh boy!! I hunted most of the goat field and made a big circle working my way back to the truck. I could see the field that I was saving for JH which had 5 or 6 jacks hopping around in the fiddle neck, and thought, what the heck. So I moved through the trees and slowly went into the field. I took small steps because I wanted the flush to happen on its own and thus give MM more time to see and think things through. The first couple of jacks he was not all that interested in and let them move off, but there was another one just a little farther out in the field that got his attention. I could see its ears just over the fiddle neck and so could MM. I moved, the jack moved. I moved ever so slowly and I could feel MM’s weight shift slightly on my fist. The jack hopped over something and MM launched! He flew strong, with power and determination. The jack rabbit, sensing that something was amiss, kicked in the full after-burners but MM was well on his way. MM closed and slammed into his second kill! Nice flight.

A good days work

JH:

I hunted him some more and he took two more jack’s. Nice work.

Mini-Me 3/17/07

Saturday, March 17th, 2007 Posted in Journal 2007 | No Comments »

 

MM on first kill YES!!!!

MM on first kill YES!!!!

3/17/07

I went out early; the sun was just coming up as I was driving down to Lathrop.

I was hopeful that the early start would produce more slips, but it did not. JH never really got a good slip; he was taking very long ones, the full length of the big hay field, and coming back. We hunted 3 fields without many jacks, so I went to the goat field and pulled out MM.

I was bound and determined not to let MM go off chasing jacks on long energy- burning slips. I wanted to keep him close and hope for a close jack that he could catch. As I walked out into the field I was tapping his toes in an effort to keep his focus in front of us instead of way off out in the field. A jack got up, maybe 30 yards out, and he was off. I was slightly annoyed because this was just a little far, but he closed and almost hooked the jack. I went over, called him to the fist, and started to walk again. Another jack flushed and I, out of sheer habit, released him and he was off. Now I’m pissed at myself because this jack is much farther out than I wanted and well, dang it, I didn’t want to do that!! As I stood there and watched, however, MM flew with speed and power, closing quickly on the jack, which was becoming more and more freaked out. MM dropped down low, went barreling in, and slammed into the jack!!! Wow! That was a real feel good moment for me because of the things that this young eagle has had to overcome to get to this point are truly remarkable. The broken back, the leg broken in two places, he was not even supposed to be able to stand upright, let alone fly correctly, and now he was flying and hunting and catching game, and is an eagle.

Mini-Me 3/13/07

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007 Posted in Journal 2007 | No Comments »

JH with jack near the pipe

3/13/07

I took JH to the large hay field and walked the entire thing. We saw a few jacks but ended up coming up on the oat hay at the end of the alfalfa field. JH had flown off the fist and made a large circle over the knee-high oat hay, and was just about to land on my fist, when a jack flushed, going straight for the pipe at the irrigation ditch. JH landed on my fist, turned and saw the jack, and launched off after it. He really got no help from me and, with pure power, built speed and closed quickly on the jack. Just as the jack got to the pipe and hesitated just a second before disappearing, JH slammed into it, literally jerking the jack out from the mouth of the pipe. That was something!

MM:

Man, this bird gives a great effort. I hunted him for 2 hours and, despite being dead tired, he kept trying. I have been working him at the shorter slips, but it is difficult because he wants to chase any jack he sees. He took 10 slips at 200 yards or more today. He does have plenty of speed and has shown a lot of quickness putting moves on jacks. I really am at a loss as to why he has not caught one yet. Example: I walk slowly through the field, he is sitting nicely on the fist and actively hunting, a jack flushes about 20 feet in front of us, MM launches and closes easily, goes in for the catch, and the jack just barely jumps up and MM misses. His confidence level has grown and he is showing a great degree of tameness. He comes into the glove soft and does not bite or strike. Today he learned to drop his feet as he landed on the glove, making for a nicer landing. MM also got quite a lesson from the nesting male red tail that stooped him many times and had him a little bugged, for sure.

Mini-Me surveying the field
MM on my fist surveying his hunting field

Mini-Me 3/9/07

Friday, March 9th, 2007 Posted in Journal 2007 | No Comments »

3/9/07

JH:

I hunted the FFH (field from hell) and did not flush one jack which was surprising because I have not gone there much. I then went to the big hay field and went into the oat hay that is growing at the end of the alfalfa. No sooner had I walked into the field when I jumped the strangest looking coyote that I have ever seen. It showed signs of some kind of injury, probably from being hit by a car, and was pretty banged up, but the strange thing was that it was almost hairless. JH was going ape, he wanted that coyote in the worst way. I had to hood him and go to the 10 acre alfalfa hay field instead. I was not going to have JH bind to a coyote that could be very sick. I went up and over the bank into the hay field and JH left the fist and took off after a jack that was at least 500 yards away. He flew it down, went in on it, the jack jumped up and over JH and JH flew all the way back to my fist. A few more steps and another jack was up and running. With JH closing fast, the jack ran straight into an irrigation pipe! With JH hooded, I ran back to the truck and drove over to the pipe. I got my rabbit net, quickly threw my hawking vest over one end of the pipe, raced to the other end to set up my net and. POW.. the jack hit the net! A bag for MM! JH then caught a jack in the goat field.. a good flight.

MM:

MM is very keen to go after jacks. He thinks he can just fly down any jack he sees; the problem is he just does not have the horsepower right now. And there’s the fact that he is actually learning to fly as he is chasing game. He made some interesting flights and did come very close, but the one slip that gave me some hope was the last one. MM was showing signs of wearing down as there was a good wind blowing and he had made several long flights. I had worked my way back in the direction of a bagged jack, when a jack flushed just in front of us but upwind. MM launched but not cleanly, but still got going and closed, making the jack zig zag back and forth. Then he busted a move on the rabbit and damn near hooked it. As I headed over to where I had placed the bagged jack, MM took off after another rabbit, so I figured now was my opportunity to get the jack out of the box and ready for MM. I watched it start to run, seeing the rope feed out, and figured that once the jack hit the end of the rope all hell would break loose. The jack got to the end of the rope and .the knot didn’t hold and off ran the jack! We went home.

Mini-Me 3/7/07

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007 Posted in Journal 2007 | No Comments »

Mini-Me on bagged rabbit

Mini-Me on bagged rabbit

3/7/07

I am just about out of food for the 3 eagles. JH normally brings in a lot of food for the other eagles but in the last couple of outings JH has not connected on any jacks. Fortunately, I had enough food to fly today..

I went to the large hay field today for two reasons: JH could catch one there and a jack might run into one of the irrigation pipes and I’d have a bag for MM. Well, none of the jacks went into the pipes but JH did catch one in good style.

I took MM to the goat field and started checking pipes that are laying everywhere. The first one I looked in had a rabbit. I got out my net and placed it over one end of the pipe but couldn’t get the rabbit to run out. So I cut a long branch from a tree to shove into the pipe to extricate the rabbit. I had just stopped jamming the branch into the pipe, thinking it was not long enough, when the rabbit flushed out of the pipe into my most ingenious rabbit net. I left the rabbit out in the open field tied to a log, figuring that I would make a big circle hunting the other end of the field to give MM a chance to go after wild jacks. He showed a lot of interest and launched at some jacks way out in the field, 200 yards plus, and again almost caught one!!! He flew back to the fist nicely and gave chase two more times. long power chases, getting oh so close. I eventually worked my way around to the area where I knew the bagged rabbit was; I could see the string and the rabbit hiding in the grass. I walked up on the rabbit and when it flushed MM launched. He just about grabbed it but missed, turned, and came back to catch the rabbit — nice lesson for him. It will be interesting to see what he does next time out.