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2012/2013 Cisco's 8th Season,
Farrah's 2nd in Houston
The previous season log
can be found at
Cisco's 7th Season
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Cisco: Summertime, and the living is easy
Farrah: Just something they like to do in the hot summer
Last season, actually being a hawk (eating a squirrel
Farrah's last squirrel of last season, caught in a flood.
25, 2013 - The season has been over
Farrah caught a pregnant female rabbit nine
days ago. That did it for 2012/2013. I have already
taken Cisco and Farrah out for off-season exercise. My goal
this year is to have Cisco molt at around 960 to 970 grams, and
let him fly loose on the transmitter for exercise. Farrah is
much easier in this regard (Harris' hawk that she is). I
flew her last summer loose, she never chased anything but was easy
to fly. Cisco stayed on the creance most of the time, though
I let him loose in Denver last summer; he punished me by hanging
out in a neighborhood all day, coming back in the late afternoon.
This was an email to Jeff LeCompte over in Louisiana - sent March
It was a surprisingly good season
after last year's lousy one. Things have leveled off
lately. Yesterday I had great flights with my two
hawks. Lots of chases, nothing in the bag. Mid-day I
flew Farrah, who every time I think is invincible on rabbits,
shows me that she isn't. She had two rabbits in her sights
that I thought were doomed. After an hour or more of vigorous
chases I fed her a quail and went home. She also chased a
fox squirrel - it's a routine at this place, but she doesn't
have any real intention of catching this one. She's smart.
I think she got bitten enough where she doesn't want to mess
with adult squirrels anymore. I think the Coulsons are
right - don't use HH's on squirrels, though they have plenty of
agility and can navigate the trees like nuthatches. Farrah
had two squirrels actually pounce on her this season. She
looks better when she chases them but Cisco puts them in the bag
much more consistently. On the other hand, out of nowhere
about a month or so back she clobbered a buck fox squirrel,
handling it perfectly. Farrah became a really good rabbit
hawk, and continually improves. One more rabbit and she
ties Cisco's single season rabbit record.
Last evening I took Cisco out to the west side of Bush Park
near Addicks. He was primed and ready. At one point
he hovered above a rose bush for about twenty seconds as if his
computer were telling him no, no, no.......... suddenly a
teardrop stoop into a very thick bush which he penetrated and
had a squealing rabbit. But he was so encumbered by the
bush that he could not control it and it pulled away.
Probably a swamp rabbit. He was pinned flat by the bush
and I had to help him out. He is a marvellous hawk.
That was one of the coolest flights I've seen from him.
Other chases followed. After an hour or more I fed him a quail
and went home. I have over 100 kills with these two this
season so I can't complain. This time of year with mama
squirrels, rabbits and cotton rats running around, I don't
mind the hawks missing.
It was a season with both hawks doing
well, with good flights and catching game. Cisco caught
twenty squirrels, his personal best, and Farrah caught 29 rabbits,
so she tied Cisco's best rabbit season ever. Farrah began
the season with squirrels, but she devolved as a squirrel hawk,
getting worse rather than better. She turned into a terrific
rabbit hawk and to the end steadily improved. As always it
was a season with lots of cotton rats for both hawks; Cisco only
caught one sparrow this season.
My apprentices all did great. In Houston, we held a
mini-meet for THA Associate members in late February. Daniel
Rasi took a brace of rabbits with his Harris' hawk, Cora; Joe
Philabaum took a rabbit with his passage MRT, Rocky. Rocky
is on the cover of the next issue of Bob Dalton's World of
A very nice looking hawk and a lot of
fun to fly. Then there's Joe Sedrak, my apprentice and
dermatologist from Sugarland. He had his first season with a
sweet natured but powerful female red-tail. They caught some
rabbits, a squirrel, a cotton rat, a lizard, and some unidentified
creature that filled her crop on her first kill. Dr. Sedrak
will release her in a few weeks.
Dart, my erstwhile male Harris' hawk, is being very competently
flown by Lynne Holder up in Chappell Hill. Lynne and Dart,
along with their trusty new team member, Max the lab, had their
best winter ever. Dart was bred by Jen and Tom
Coulson. Here's Dart doing what he loves:
February 23, 2013 - Roger Crandall
brings me luck again
Cisco was caught on Roger's trap more than seven years ago up in
Fort Worth. Over the years, Cisco and I have always had good
luck when Roger's taken me to fields up in that area.
I took Cisco
to Fort Worth this weekend,
leaving Farrah in Houston. Roger
and I put him on some cottontails at a new place on the side of a
small hill, near some apartments. Cisco
NEVER looked so good. Caught the first rabbit on a beautiful
spiral drop from a tree in just a few minutes. Then we had a
number of good flights before he caught the second. When Cisco
's in his groove he is amazing. A
brace of rabbits caught very stylishly.
Cisco and I at the Crandall's
February 11, 2013 -
Overcast skies with lots of Cisco field time
As is typical, I met Mike Wiegel for
breakfast, today at Denny's. It was cool and overcast.
Cisco was fat, but I normally fly him regardless of weight.
Lately I have been feeding him amply, carelessly, and flying him
too heavy. Saturday he blinked at a half dozen swamp rabbits
at De Soto Street and nailed a cotton rat. I need to get
serious with him and watch his weight. Today I thought about
squirrels. I took a different route to the woods, through
Bush Park; on the west side of that park I happened to spot a
promising looking area. A couple of hours there yielded one
flight on a small rodent, some old rabbit sign, and lots of
exercise. I hooded Cisco and drove to our original
destination near Cullen Park. When Cisco is at weight,
around 920 grams, he always
catches squirrels. Today
we put in an hour or two at the second spot and got a few good
flights. For some reason there were not a lot of squirrels
out. I fed Cisco some chicks and went home.
Yesterday evening Farrah caught her 25th rabbit at a field just
west of my house. It is a relatively new field for me, a
little narrow in spots for me to fly Cisco, but fine for a Harris'
hawk. Cisco likes to roam when he is first released at a
hunting field. In this place that would put him over busy
traffic and neighborhoods. I drove past the place for years
and never noticed it until about a month ago. Farrah has
taken three eastern cottontails there. Because these
pictures all look the same I did not attach any of the hawk on the
kill. Instead, here is a picture of my apprentice Daniel
Rasi with his female Harris' called Cora. Also my friend
from Scotland, Gill Kippin took a flattering picture of me with
Farrah, so that's here too.
I took this picture of Daniel Rasi out in Katy, TX with
Cora, his first year passage female Harris' - a very good
bird, and beautiful. Best looking immature Harris'
that I've seen so far.
Picture at right by Gill Kippin. I fly one
pretty Harris' hawk, no?
Farrah and Cisco looking at the squirrels in Stephanie's yard.
February 5th and 6th - A
sunny evening and wet Houston morning - squirrels for my hawks
This evening (2/5) Cisco caught his 18th squirrel of the
season. He spent about twenty minutes working on one
squirrel in a tree. He was panting, an ounce heavy, and the
weather was sunny and warm. When the squirrel escaped to the
other side of the creek, Cisco moved along the creek about 70
feet. I saw him looking down for about a minute. He
dropped straight down crashing into a bush below him. Another cat
squirrel for Cisco.
The next morning it was drizzly and wet. I met Mike
Wiegel for breakfast at Taco Cabana, and wondered if I would even
get out. I decided to just take a walk with Farrah behind
Addicks Dam, really not expecting much. I spent hours out
here with her early in the fall (see Nov. 7 entry), chased nothing
and only saw a small covey of quail. This morning I sat in the
parking lot and even napped a little, waiting for a rain
break. When we got one, I carried the hawk closer to the
dam, releasing her after I walked in about 1/5 of a
mile. Up the stairs, over the dam and down on the
other side, we headed south.
The Harris' hawk followed along loosely, then smacked a tree on
the side away from me. I know the sound of a fox squirrel
growling. Jeeeez..... instant stress and worry. She
had the squirrel about ten or twelve feet high so I could not help
her. Farrah seemed to have a good grip on its head, but I
could see a bloody slit on her leg too (the bloody slit is a claw
gash). I saw a virtually identical one on Cisco a
while back. After about five minutes, she dropped down a
little. The squirrel was very much alive. I reached up
and squeezed the squirrel as hard as I could with both hands until
it died. She really did have a good grip on it, holding it
perfectly, which is rare for her at least with squirrels. It
was a buck fox squirrel, which weighed 1.55 lb. Fox
squirrels are bigger and stronger than cat (gray) squirrels, but
they are easier to catch and my belief is that they are not as
nasty to deal with for the hawks. Farrah has been bitten by
nearly every cat squirrel she's grabbed. When Keith flew her
the first season, she didn't have as much trouble catching fox
squirrels until the last day, when she got gnawed on. I try
to avoid all squirrels with her. Cisco seems to handle them
consistently better. Today was good though. This is
the first fox squirrel Farrah has taken since I got her.
Cisco took one fox squirrel in Denver in late November, his first
and only big fox squirrel. He took a fox squirrel in Abilene
a few years ago, but those Abilene fox squirrels are the size of
That oblong shape is a rolled up buck fox squirrel, and
you can see Farrah's legs.
I traded her off with some chicks....
February 4, 2013 - Steady as
Another couple of weeks have gone by. The hawks have been
doing well, filling the freezer. Cisco mostly with
squirrels, and Farrah with rabbits, both swamp rabbits and eastern
cottontails. I will post some pictures of friends and
Farrah caught a big swamp rabbit out at De Soto. I
foolishly gave her the head to eat, something I frequently
do with Cisco. She immediately ducked back under the
bush. After an hour of hacking the bush apart with
my game shears, she was almost finished with the
head. Here she is. Don't have log book handy,
but late January is my guess.
January 14, 2013 - Time to catch up
Sorry to those fans of this web site, that I have not been keeping
up. My hawks have had a very busy six weeks since the NAFA
meet. Farrah caught two more cottontails on the trip, one in
Kearney, the other in Amarillo in a very cold and hard wind, and
since then has caught a bundle of them. After the meet, Cisco
caught a good sized fox squirrel in Denver. As of this
writing he has caught about 13 or 14 squirrels this season, and
has become a first rate squirrel hawk. Chasing squirrels, he
hurt himself a few weeks ago, requiring x-rays, but had no broken
bones. He is now recovered. In his last three outings
he caught a sparrow, two cotton rats and a squirrel. Farrah
in the meantime has turned into a superb rabbit hawk, and has
earned tenure on Team Cisco.
Mike Wiegel's Barbary is doing well. Dart is catching lots
of game in Chappell Hill, and my three apprentices' birds (two
RT's and a Harris') are all catching game.
Pictures below are generally in chronological order with latest at
Farrah's latest rabbit 1/14/2013
1/1/22013 - An eastern cottontail on New Year's Day
Farrah with swamp rabbit that really kicked her butt...
An email to Jeff Lecompte in Baton Rouge:
Pretty intense today with me and Farrah. I was
truly under one of those Cherokee rose bushes trying
to help my hawk subdue a rabbit, a big swamper. Rabbit
tried to drag her through and out of the bush. I
was concerned about her eyes and I cut my way into the
bush from one side, then the action shifted to the
other when the rabbit retreated. I was down on
my belly with thorns in my neck and glove.
Looked like a Cooper's had killed and eaten a dove
under the bush and there was a mandible of another
rabbit there also. Along with thorns!
Farrah was flying at 803 grams - I weighed her just
before the flight. She is on an amazing rabbit
tear right now. It's been a while since a cotton
rat, maybe eight rabbits straight, including two large
cane cutters. She caught a tiny eastern a few
days ago at a place that will be a one-hit wonder.
I picked up Cisco
from my buddy's mew tonight - he's much better, but I
won't fly him tomorrow. It may be a few more
days at least. He still favors the left foot,
but I guarantee he would hunt anyway. He's
hard-headed and determined. I may have told you
that he once caught a swamp rabbit and a hispid cotton
rat when he could hardly fly, the result of another
squirrel chasing injury a few years ago.
Here's Farrah with the rabbit today and Mike
Wiegel's apprentice, Andrew Hill. Yesterday his
PFRT killed first cottontail from a teardrop
stoop. Classic RT flight. Gave me
An excited Andrew Hill with his first RT with first
Cisco recuperating at Mike's
An email to Jason Willis:
I picked up Cisco
tonight - he's much better, but I won't fly him
tomorrow. It may be a few more days at
least. He still favors the left foot, but I
guarantee he would hunt anyway. He's hard-headed
and determined. I told you that he once caught a
cane cutter and a hispid cotton rat when he could
hardly fly after another squirrel chasing injury a few
12/31/2012 - Cisco under anesthesia in preparation for
x-ray - injured his leg chasing squirrels. His
right leg was very sore, but no break. Dr. Mark
Peckham recommended no treatment other than not flying
him. Cisco recovered within two weeks; caught a
sparrow and cotton rat on his first day back hunting.
12/14/2012 - A busy afternoon for Cisco
- these squirrels caught within ten or fifteen minutes
of each other plus he caught and killed a copperhead
12/11/2012 - A small swamp rabbit Farrah caught down the
street from Gold Fire
12/13/2012 - Farrah's cottontail caught just west of my
house - field developed away now after just a couple of
days..... I saw the place years ago, and did not take
My apprentice Daniel Rasi's immature female Harris, Cora
- now a rabbit catcher...
Jimmy Walker with Vinnie in Amarillo on my way back from
Kearney - Vinnie chased some ducks, and Farrah caught a
cottontail the next morning.
Cisco and Farrah enjoy being home after NAFA trip.
Both right into the bath pans upon our return.
11/25/2012 - Cisco with remains of fox squirrel caught
in Denver after meet
Darryl Perkins, Don Adams and two of Darryl's friends
during NAFA meet
November 20, 2012 - NAFA Meet
Update for My Team
An edited (for grammar and punctuation) email that I
sent to some friends.....
I got up here a day early, Saturday. The next
day, Cisco caught a rabbit after waiting-on overhead,
then returning to a tree. He was spectacular to
watch. I flushed a rabbit from the field, it ran
toward the tree line in an arc, and Cisco nailed it
perfectly. That was Sunday afternoon.
Since then, until tonight, it had been
frustrating. I took Cisco out this morning at dawn
to the same field. There was a very possessive
female red-tail patrolling the field. Cisco chased
her for a while, then flew back, but was frequently
looking up nervously. I beat the brush and got the
best flush I've had in several years. The rabbit had
to run 100 yards to the trees. Unfortunately, Cisco was
distracted just enough that he missed on the
initial strike from the T pole. He bounced off the
ground to continue pursuit. Rather than closing, he
paced the rabbit across the field, and bunny made it to
the tree line. I have seen him fly rabbits down in
the open field many times - it was obvious the local FRT
was affecting him. I brought the Harris' out because
in Houston the RT's ignore her, and vice versa. Not
this local girl though. She was screaming overhead
at Farrah. Farrah went to chase fox squirrels.
I went along with that for a few minutes, then put
her up. Her feet are almost healed from her last squirrel
grab in Houston.
Tonight I took Farrah out very near this field,
on the same property. She chased some rabbits, but
was generally not impressive. Out of position, not
following well............. Then I took her to that
same tree line where the rabbit ran this morning.
Eurasian collard doves roost there by the
scores. Farrah attacked the trees the other night,
but the trees are conifers and she can't easily catch the
doves. Tonight I walked along, she kept crashing in
and out of the trees. We flushed a bunny. A
game pin for each of my hawks.........
& Saturday - November 9th
and 10th - Rodents -
Terrestrial and Aboreal
A nice couple, Ramsey and his girlfriend, Kristal met me at
Denny's on Saturday. We went to the woods with Cisco, who
weighed in at 940 grams this morning. A little high, but I
was hopeful. Since they had driven in from Killeen, where
Ramsey's stationed, I was really hoping to get a good show out of
my red-tail. Initially Cisco was distant, taking off for a
pretty good while, and it took the lure to get his
attention. Then he got serious. In no time he attacked
a dray, extracting a cat squirrel. It balled up and down he
came. Ramsey called it "awesome......"
Lynne met up with us - Dart chased some creatures at De Soto
Street. Grabbed a cotton rat that managed to wiggle away in
Dart on Saturday
On Friday, I tried a new field with Farrah. Southwest of Gold
Fire, it's next to the parking lot of a big church. I had
spotted the place a day or two before, but never walked it.
Farrah was ready, attentive, and riding the T pole. She
chased a couple of rabbits then zipped into the woods in pursuit
of another creature. No lagomorph, this was a good sized
Norway rat. She moved into the brush, but I am improving my
technique with her. I found that if I give her a minute to
break in, I can approach her and usually get her to move off the
kill to the lure. Today in the brush, not too successful.
She weighed 1010 in the evening, as she ate the rat, along with a
chick or two.
Afterwards I went to go hunt with my apprentice, Dr. Joe
Sedrak. He has a newly trained, very powerful and
well-manned red-tailed hawk that he calls Sally. We took her
to some nearby woods to try to scare up some game for her.
No luck but she followed along well until right at the end.
Joe went into the open field, swung the garnished lure, and soon
she was clipped to his glove.
November 7th, 2012 - Nice Looking Fields Don't
Translate Into Good Hunting
In desperation I tried a new field in west Houston. My other
fields are disappearing, especially fields for rabbits. Rob
Evans is having the same problem. I found this area while
practice hiking for Colorado. Looks beautiful, but that's
always deceiving - I never took a hawk here because I'm a creature
of habit, and most fields are barren of game. Today after
breakfast I brought the Harris' hawk out here and hiked for
miles. The best flight was on a large grasshopper. She
also chased a great-horned owl, great egret, and osprey. She
looked at a small bird in the grass that either Cisco or Dart
would have nailed. I did not see a single rabbit, but found
some very old rabbit sign. So old it looked
antediluvian. Actually this flood may have been in the last
few months. My friend George Nalbandian told me he had seen
swamp rabbits very near here while bike riding. I'll need to
talk to him. Maybe there would be more game at dawn and
dusk. Here are a few cell phone pictures of this morning.
- November 6th - Same Quarry, Same
Tree, Different Results
An email to Lynne Holder:
I have to tell you (and everybody
else) about Fatty this morning. Out to the woods
just after dawn, I put him up so he could hang out and
burn off some steam. He disappeared for about
ten minutes while I got my gear on and got set up.
We walked along through the woods with lots of
squirrel irritation noise going on in background.
He followed on pretty well, and we found
ourselves by the very same tree that he rented for the
day a Saturday back. He recognized it, and sure
enough started working a squirrel. This squirrel
decided to hide in some vines below the dray, which is
now marked "Crime Scene" with some of that yellow
tape. OK, not really. At any rate, my
bunker buster slams the vines and I could tell from
the sound that Cisco had the squirrel, though the
squirrel was vocally silent. Fatty was holding
the squirrel for a very long time with apparently
extended legs. After about five or ten minutes I
saw him plucking! Oh no! There couldn't be
any way he could eat that guy up there in that mess.
Fortunately not, as he began to try to maneuver
the squirrel out of the vines without letting go of
it. He was up there a really long time. It
seems like it took forever before he launched - the
weight of the squirrel brought him to a lower bunch of
vegetation in another tree. He was trying to get
to the ground, but the vegetation and his
unwillingness to let go made it hard for him.
His next move brought him lower, maybe 12' high
or so. This morning I took an 80 gram rat out of
the freezer to bring with me instead of my usual
tidbits. It paid off. Because squirrels
are tough to break into, he's very willing to trade
off. Today he flew out of of the tree to my fist
carrying that squirrel! He was on my fist only
briefly, grabbing the rat, then taking the squirrel to
the ground. He started to work on the squirrel,
and I attached the rat to the lure. He traded
off and began to work on the rat. In the picture
the squirrel is in the foreground, its tail plucked
while Cisco was way up in the tree. This is four
squirrels in the last five trips out here. I'll
put this on my web site.
Cisco eating rat on lure
November 5th, 2012 - Farrah at Gold Fire
I took Farrah early over to De Soto
Street. I left right away because someone had dumped a dead
horse and the upper part of a small buck right in front of the
field. I guess a derelict speed boat is not bad
enough. I drove down to Gold Fire burning up valuable cool
weather time. At Gold Fire she did well, catching a small
cotton rat. We hunted for a good while after that but we
didn't get too many flights.
Farrah on pole on north end of Gold Fire - Paintball place
- closed during week
Farrah hooded in living room of my house - she can't get
this one off. and it fits well.
- November 1st and 2nd - A Tale of Two Squirrel
I am finally going to retire Farrah from
squirrel hawking. This time I mean it. She has great
ability to catch up with squirrels in the trees, has a crushing
grip comparable to a red-tail, gets her feet on the squirrels,
follows wonderfully well in the woods, and is really fun.
But she has problems getting adult gray squirrels in the game bag
- it is related to her consistently poor footing. Thursday,
because of record high temperatures, I took her to the
woods. It was too hot to field hawk. She went to work,
looked great, and in a little while grabbed a squirrel in some
vines. She seemed to be in control - I thought she was
killing it. When she dropped down with it, I was
elated. She landed on the the ground and it was gone, but
she was chewed on..... again. %#$&*!!!! -OK, I'm
slow, but that's it. She's a great hawk in the open field
and I have a competent squirrel hawk in Cisco. I'll hunt
rabbits with my Harris' hawk. Farrah really is not a very
good squirrel hawk and one of these days she will get hurt.
She finished her first two seasons with lots of healing squirrel
This morning I took Cisco out at dawn. Too heavy at 940
grams, I put him in the trees while I got the hawking gear set
up. Today it took longer to get ready, than it did to
hunt. I walked to the trees, Cisco flew over and began his
pursuit. He missed a squirrel on the first pass, but the
squirrel made a fatal mistake. Instead of turning up the
trunk, it broke to the open. A squirrel cannot outrun a
red-tail. Elasped time was about 90 seconds. Cisco's
third squirrel in four outings, with one of those outings being a
situation where he really was too heavy for serious pursuit.
Below are pictures of Cisco eating the head, and the squirrel
itself. OK, it's not Wild Kingdom.
Wednesday, October 31 -
with a Red-tailed Hawk
Bob Dalton, in his fine treatise, Hunting with Harris Hawks
mentioned an incident wherein he went "hawking" with a well known
falconer. Essentially the hawk flew off and caught several
head of game out of sight of the falconers. The other
falconer collected the game as they went along, and was quite
proud. Mr. Dalton's comment to the reader was that this was
This morning Cisco got his weight down to 932 gram on a 36 hour
basis, with his last intake being a 9 gram mouse Monday
evening. Sunday evening, more than 24 hours after he ate
that entire buck cat squirrel on Saturday, he was at a fine
molting weight of 1013. I flew him at 963 on Monday
night. He responded OK, but showed no real vigor. This
morning he was about 10 to 15 grams higher than I would of liked,
but once released went looking for squirrels - not near me.
I wondered whether we wouldn't have a scenario similar to the one
described by Mr. Dalton. He has done that a couple of times
with squirrels in the past. Then, about twenty minutes into
the hunt, Cisco showed up, worked a cat squirrel right over my
head and captured the rascal............ the squirrel was
caught up in some vines in a tree, and Cisco dropped straight down
with it. Life is good, at least in the hawking world.
Sorry, poor picture of Cisco's eating some post-squirrel
Tuesday, October 30 - Una Nueva
Reyna en Calle De Soto
Farrah's starting to really get going as a rabbit
hawk, today catching her first big swamp rabbit at De Soto Street.
A swamp rabbit in each of last two trips. At a portly 844
grams, she did really well here today. She earned this one
with a lot of hard chases. There seem to be a lot of rabbits
here this season. Cisco's taken one big one, and Farrah's
taken three total, but the first two were not full adults.
She's getting efficient enough that I may need to back off this
field a little. Put her back on squirrels, or not..........
Working those swamp rabbits....
A big 'ole bunny - biggest yet for Farrah. Field
squeezed and with leg missing was 3.5 pounds, so probably
about 4.5 pounds.
Munching on the leg
Back in the box....
October 27 and October 28, 2012 - Cisco
ate the whole thing.......
For the first time ever, in nearly seven years, I had to
leave Cisco out overnight in the wild. Things started
innocently enough, with Joe Philabaum's meeting me at Denny's
around 0700 on Saturday morning. Joe wanted to give his
rookie hawk another shot at the woods, after his bird caught a
bird there a couple of days earlier. Cisco was at hunting
weight for the first time all season. 915. I think I
mentioned to Joe that Cisco catches squirrels at this weight, and
I'd prefer to fly Cisco ahead of his bird.
We released Cisco into the woods - it was apparent that he was
serious. Cisco made a few attacks then started working a
squirrel in one tree. At some point the squirrel headed to
the dray. Though normally a good strategy, it didn't pay off
this time. Cisco hit the nest and soon there was
squealing. Most of the time when Cisco attacks drays, the
squirrels head out the bottom and get away. I told Joe that
I hoped it was not a junior squirrel like the ones Farrah has been
catching lately. Also I expressed hope that Cisco would not
carry the squirrel across the creek. In hindsight, either of
those would have been preferable.
Cisco killed the squirrel up on top of the dray, and I waited,
expecting him to carry it to the ground. Not this time, as
he began to break into the squirrel. This could be
trouble. Joe and I waited for a while, then I suggested (or
maybe Joe did) that Joe's time would be better spent training his
bird to the T pole or hunting out in Fayetteville. Joe lives
in Fayetteville, TX. I called my other apprentice, Joe
Sedrak, and suggested that he meet me at the nearby park field, as
I would be pinned down for a pretty good while, maybe days.
Joe wanted to fly his female RT ("Sally") on the creance.
The hawk did well, flying 100 feet with good response. In
the meantime Stephanie came by to say hello too.
I went back home to take a shower and get some clothes for the
evening plans I made. On the way back the receiver battery
died and the spare was stone-cold dead. I quickly drove to a
nearby Shell station to buy a replacement. I wanted to be at the
tree when Cisco went to roost, and also to at least try a late day
retrieval. I had my lure, T pole, and a garnished fist. Back
at the tree, I blew the whistle, and it provoked Cisco, not to
come down, but to apparently finish the remaining squirrel
meat. This was about nine or ten hours since he caught it.
He then waddled to the edge of the dray and carried his football
sized crop across the creek. I waited him out some more,
still attempting ineffectual means to get him to come down.
I even brought his hawk box out - it's his favorite roosting place
at the house. No luck. The sun set, he flew about
fifty yards away and I left.
The next morning I was back before dawn. I had to track him
down. He had moved a few hundred yards overnight. My
Marshall RT+ transmitter had moved into "Apollo 13 mode" meaning
the beep rate decreases to half to conserve battery life.
Cisco was sitting, very content looking, and had put over that
enormous crop of squirrel. I put a chick on my glove and
whistled. He chirped, which he'll do when he's interested
but feeling lazy. I started to take the receiver back to the
car, dragging the lure behind me. Behind me I heard a bunch
of bell noises, so I offered the garnished glove. Instantly
he responded and I had him clipped to the glove. In this
picture he does not appear too agitated by the experience. I
had hoped to fly him Monday morning, but Cisco tipped the scales
at 1040 grams Sunday night. This was 34 hours after he
killed the squirrel.
He's thinking, "What's the big deal?"
Late Sunday afternoon, I took Farrah to the De Soto Street.
Cisco had the audacity to be restless in his hawk box when I was
getting the hawking gear ready. Farrah chased cotton rats,
birds and a swamper or two before she grabbed a small swamp rabbit
heading into a rose bush. One of her flights was stellar,
with her tracking an adult swamp rabbit as it ran across the
field. Other than Dart's flight on a cottontail up in
Amarillo a few years ago, this was the best Harris' hawk chase I
have witnessed yet. Here she is munching on the head of her
Team Cisco is doing well. Farah has about eight squirrels,
mostly well underage, two swamp rabbits, two cotton rats, and a
bird. Cisco, although mostly flying an ounce heavy until
Saturday, has a swamp rabbit, squirrel, three mice and a cotton
rat. Dart is chasing rabbits and catching birds and small
rodents with Lynne up in Chappell Hill.
October 26, 2012 - Farrah's
Out at De Soto, Farrah caught a cotton rat. Below
she looks to a rose bush to hide under. She succeeded, so I
had to wait her out as she munched on it.
October 20, 2012 - Farrah's
Who says that Harris's aren't smart? Cisco, the
dummy, solved his squirrel biting problem by improving his
footing. Farrah being the smarter one, now catches only
harmless squirrels. In the last couple of weeks she caught
three that were the size of chipmunks. Downsizing more,
today she raided a dray and ate at least two, possibly three
squirrels that looked like little moles. I'm so
proud........ She left the house at 820 grams this
morning. After our outing she was at 1012. That
included some meat that was on my fist and lure. More later.
Farrah after solving her problem with squirrel bites:
October 19, 2012 - Cisco's
first swamp rabbit of the fall
Here's what greeted me at De Soto this morning - a derelict
boat that someone decided that the taxpayers of Houston should pay
to remove. Need to shoot a few of the folks who do this kind
of thing, but is that politically incorrect?
In another week or so I won't point out that Cisco is still over
weight. Today at 961 grams, he was a good 1 1/2 ounces
heavy. It was clear and cool today - I went to De Soto
Street. While thrashing the brush early, I wondered why I
didn't fly the Harris' instead. Cisco started out slowly,
sitting in the dawn sunlight, but soon came over to the trees at
De Soto and was ready to hunt. Incidentally, someone left a
derelict speedboat right in the street by the field. Jeez.
Riding the pole, he suddenly launched, hitting the brush
hard. A swamp rabbit struggled to kick loose, and I moved in
to dispatch it. A big rabbit it was, probably four to five
Afterwards I went to help my apprentice. Joe Sedrak has a
PFRT that we trapped about twelve days ago. We flew her to
fist out in yard today.
Earlier this week, Rob Evans took his new red-tail out for her
first free-flight. She caught a rabbit! A first for
October 17, 2012 - A small triple for Cisco
Up in tree a few minutes before grabbing bunny
My apprentice Dr. Joe Sedrak with "Sally"
Rob Evans' new female red-tail - shown on first
free-flight and rabbit!
She's called "Redrum"
Cisco last November in Amarillo with his first and only
Although still 2/3 ounce heavy, I took Cisco to the
woods to chase squirrels. The last couple of times out here
he was...well, boring. Too high in weight, he would sit and
very occasionally chase a nearby squirrel. Today was
different with his spending the first 30 to 45 minutes vigorously
chasing. He kept missing, but it was fun. I gave him a
tidbit, and the action slowed to a crawl. Boring
again. I took him out to Pederson Road and let him ride the
T pole. He was just fine, catching two mice on the same
slip. He pounced on the first, gulped it down, looked into
the brush and plucked out another. He hopped to the T pole
with it and ate it there. They have mostly destroyed this
place. It looks like development is imminent. I walked along
a brushy strip, but didn't kick up any rabbits. The local
red-tail showed up and Cisco soared a little. He caught a
Link to YouTube is Soar
Here are two pictures from today.
Cisco is sitting silhouetted against sky - middle of
October 16, 2012 - No Country
for Old Men
Or old squirrels either. Apparently tired of bites,
Farrah now spends her time in the woods looking for very young
squirrels. Today, when Farrah flew into the trees by South
Mayde Creek, she looked so good that I thought we might fill the
game bag. An hour later she was still looking for that
"perfect squirrel." The Harris' hawk found it hiding in a
clump of vegetation about 25' high in a tree. After grabbing
it, she dropped nearly straight down with the diminutive
squirrel. In the last month, all of her squirrels have been
smaller than any Cisco has caught in his six seasons of hunting
squirrels. Interesting that her first season was spent
almost exclusively catching large fox squirrels, which Cisco
typically avoids. I was happy that the hawk was on my side
of the creek, and started to garnish another chick onto the
lure. That didn't last long as Farrah took off across the
creek. Now I had to shinny across a conveniently placed, but
tricky, tree trunk that spanned the creek. It occurred to me
that there are a lot of guys my age who wouldn't consider doing
this. The middle of my tree was blocked by another vertical
tree that made it impossible to get around while keeping hold of
my bamboo pole. I threw it across to the other bank, and
worked my way around. At the end I had to drop down, and was
glad I didn't slip. A few years ago, Cisco made me do this a
couple of times either catching or carrying from a tree, and
ending up on the other side with a squirrel. The problem is
then getting back. No way to carry a hawk across it.
The falconer needs to hike all the way to the bridge, easily a 1/4
mile away along the slimy creek bank.
I found my hawk as in the picture below. Having broken into
the little squirrel Farrah had little inclination to carry, barely
mantling. I offered the lure, she bound to it, and the
squirrel went into the game bag. I wanted to feed her some
of the freshly killed squirrel - that was when I realized I left
my shears in the car. Ever try to tear off parts of squirrel
without using shears? I called Farrah to my fist, fed her a
mouse, clipped the hawk to the glove, and headed back. The trek
back was slippery, brushy, full of poison ivy and mosquitoes, and
long. Beats working............
October 15, 2012 - Cisco at De
At dawn today I took Cisco over to the De Soto Street
field. Still above flying weight at 950 and molting a
little, he did fine. Cisco chased a rail, a small bird,
cotton rat, and a swamp rabbit. He rode the T pole and was
attentive. The field is overgrown, so it's really tough for
a hawk to catch things here. Cisco caught a cotton rat, and
Farrah a small swamp rabbit thus far this season out here.
Within a week or so I will bring Cisco's weight down to around
October 13, 2012 - Farrah's
Since Farrah managed to grab a nice squirrel two days ago
without being bitten, I took her back to the creek today.
She was 2/3 of an ounce heavy, having eaten an enormous slug of
food on the previous outing. Her response is always good, so
I took her anyway. She would not pursue the abundant adult
cat squirrels running around screaming at her - she was looking
for something more to her liking. Juvenile squirrels. I soon
heard the soon of a distressed squirrel. She was in a tree
not far above my head. I took the picture with my new
high-tech flip phone.
She killed the squirrel, and dropped to the ground very near the
tree, fortunately. Because she is so carry prone I left her
alone for a while, giving her time to break in. I loaded up
the lure with a chick and a big squirrel chunk and stuck it in
front of her. It worked. She started on the lure, and
I slipped the squirrel into the game bag. This may be the
ticket. She finished the food on the lure and began footing
the lure aggressively. I called her to glove and we went
Farrah in tree with squirrel, just above my head
Excitedly working the lure - the line is tied to my belt
October 12, 2012 - A hunt in
Here's a picture of Cisco eating a squirrel head (courtesy of
Farrah). Even starting at sunrise it was too hot and sweaty
to hunt, but we put in an hour and a half. Little game at
Gold Fire, though Cisco had a chase or two.
Three Day Update - 10/9/2012 through 10/11/2012
We'll start with Tuesday, the ninth. I had both birds in the
car with me. Monday I flew neither bird because there were
some issues at the house to be attended to. Tuesday, Cisco
was up first, as I was encouraged by his Sunday's performance.
Tuesday he was only so-so in the woods by South Mayde
Creek. He is still above his good hunting weight but
responds to the fist. Until he really finishes the molt I
will keep him on the high side. This morning he
showed mostly lethargy, but occasionally put in a nice flight on
squirrels. I put him back in the car and brought Farrah
out. She was red hot, putting in a lot of chases, but it
appeared that she wouldn't score. On the way back to the car
she grabbed a squirrel. When I made in, she had both feet on
the head, and no bites. Finally! Because of her often
sloppy footing, bites, and a mild infection, I had actually
decided not to fly her on squirrels, but changed my mind.
Today she was good. I fed her up and put her back in hawk
box. I brought Cisco out again, and he was about the
same. Lackluster, with one or two attacks that were pretty
Wednesday early I took Cisco to De Soto Street, still a bit heavy,
but he looked super. He rode the T pole and perched in the
tops of the small trees, hunting intently. We flushed no
swamp rabbits, but Cisco grabbed a large cotton rat, hopped to the
T pole and consumed it. His first kill of the season.
Thursday it was Farrah's turn again. Back to the creek - she
was looking great. 819 grams when I left the house, a 48
hour weight as I generally feed every other day. She pursued
a few squirrels, followed well, panhandled just a little, then
attacked a squirrel nest (dray). From the ground there
didn't appear to be much activity, but she was persistent.
She made a grab and I heard a squeak, vaguely similar to a "Mr.
Squirrel" call. This immediately brought another squirrel
running toward the nest tree, which concerned me. The
Harris' hawk was mantling over the dray, and I was afraid the
other squirrel might grab her. Reader may recall a squirrel
did jump on my hawk a week or two ago. Instead, nothing
happened. Farrah stayed up on the dray for about five or ten
minutes, apparently killing the squirrel. Then she took off
with it, flying off into the woods, also carrying a large twig
from the dray. I walked back to my car to get my receiver
and a drink of water. A while later I found her on the
squirrel in the cover munching away with a large crop. Like
a lot of passage Harris's she is very possessive with kills and
will take off with about anything she can. I got a chick
under her and managed to trade her off. At the house she
weighed 970 grams. Her seventh kill, fourth squirrel. but no
hunting for her tomorrow. She is getting to be an awful lot
of fun. And she took another squirrel without getting chewed
Cisco's up tomorrow.
Jeff LeCompte from Baton Rouge - Sent October 10, 2012
Matthew Mullenix's friend and apprentice has a nice intermewed
PMRT. Alex the hawk is doing well in the new season.
Here are a couple of pictures:
Appears to be a small swamp rabbit
Sunday, October 7, 2012 - Lots of adventures
This was one of the best days for Farrah in the field.
Weather was cool and she weighed just under 800 grams. We
went to De Soto Street field where she pursued the elusive swamp
rabbits vigorously. None caught, but she snagged a cotton
rat by a rose bush. She took the rat under the bush and
spent a good twenty minutes eating it.
I had Cisco in the car, but had not planned to fly him as he had
flown yesterday. He was jumping around his hawk box so I
weighed him. 940 grams. He was also fired up and put
in some great flights on the rabbits, nearly catching one from a
tree. That flight was beatiful - gave me goose bumps.
I headed to Daniel's house to get a gerbil, then on to my house
where Joe Sedrak was to meet me. Joe got his permit this
week and was ready for his red-tail. We headed out from the
house about four, and caught a nice passage female about 20
minutes before dusk. She weighed 1370 grams, and was nice
and plump. Powerful feet.
Joe's bird at my house on Wednesday (trapped Sunday)
Friday, October 5, 2012 - Joe
Philabaums' New RT
Last Saturday we met at Denny's at 0630, and headed out west a
little to trap my apprentice a red-tailed hawk. Lots raptors
around: White-tailed, Swainson's, caracaras, and adult red-tails,
but no juveniles. Around 10:00 we spotted a juvenile bird on
a power pole, on Old Hempstead Highway, a couple of miles SE of
Waller. Joe and I set the trap several times - once the hawk
squabbled with another RT, and twice he went to the field to catch
a varmit. Nice bird, a male trapped about Cisco's weight, 989 with
hood, but in better physical condition than my hawk. He was
very strong. He's now flying to the fist and doing
well. He has big feet. Joe calls him "Rocky." Picture
below taken yesterday (Thursday). Tomorrow will be exactly
one week off the trap.
9/23/2012 - Farrah and I battle a 12
From an email to some of my falconry buddies
Chuck Redding firstname.lastname@example.org
|12:58 PM (22 hours
to Jonathan, Jim, Jim, Matthew, Jeff, Kate, Lynne, Cody, Roger, Daniel, Rob, Mike, Joseph, Joe, mike, Stephanie
Okay - would have been if cat squirrels had antlers. Farrah
is now on a nice roll. We have caught game three outings
straight, beginning last Saturday when she caught a 1/2 grown
swamp rabbit over at De Soto Street. That rabbit would have
been a smallish to medium sized eastern cottontail except it was
definitely a swamp rabbit.
Two days ago, Tuesday by South Mayde Creek she caught the smallest
cat squirrel ever to end up in my game bag. Farrah began
that hunt by leaving the big woods, circled an open field, and
flew into a small wooded area. I followed and flushed a
small red-tail. Then I heard a red-shouldered hawk screaming
and hoped she hadn't grabbed its mate. Instead she was bound
to the little fuzzy shown in the picture (above in group of
Until this week I had been taking her by Buffalo Bayou where there
really must be too many squirrels in the woods. Neither she
nor the RT have taken a squirrel from that place, both have been
bitten, and neither hawk chases them with much relish.
Farrah has been flying loose all summer wearing her transmitter
showing excellent fist response, but no inclination to chase
game. I digress.
Today we went back to South Mayde Creek. She initially flew out
away from the woods into some rabbity looking area, then back to
the woods where she quickly grabbed a squirrel which bit her
toe. I washed off her foot by the car and we set out
again. Soon she was in pursuit. She grabbed a big old
buck cat squirrel, and parachuted down. On the way down they
crashed into a very low small tree. When I ran in, she had a
strong but poorly positioned grip on the squirrel, which had
buried its teeth in her leg, just below the feathers. I
reached in, and Farrah instantly got a solid grip on its
head. Since she had one foot holding the tree, and the other
encircling the head, it could have taken an hour to finish the
squirrel - it may have died of old age first. I had no room
and angle to do anything with my gloved hand, and am keeping my
right handed squirrel-crunching glove in the garage so I won't
lose it.He Right next to my "Mr. Squirrel" call. I
knew I could quickly kill this squirrel with my right hand, but
was afraid that if I reached in again, Farrah might switch her
grip from the head, and the squirrel might attach its jaws and
teeth to my hand. Farrah had the squirrel well under control
so I had a minute to think. I gambled, reached in, and
dispatched the squirrel.
That's the latest hawking news. Cisco continues to molt -
probably be ready within a month, starting his eighth
season. Each season he comes up with something new.
We'll see. I guess this email will end up at http://virtualvideo.cc/falconry/cisco8.html
Other stuff from mostly September:
Nathan Andrews' intermewed PFRT Karah, already having a
Leashes on right I made after studying Kylie Taylor's
leash, at left of the other two
9/24/2012 - Farrah with her first squirrel of season, a
runt. She caught a small swamp rabbit a couple of
My apprentice Daniel Rasi with his male Harris' that he
trapped with Mike Mosley last weekend.
Date stamp wrong here. Rob Evans with his beast of a
female Red-tail that he caught the morning of this
picture. He calls her Redrum............. His
new hawking vehicle behind us.
Matt Mullenix's hawk, Ernie and whippet, Rina (Photo: Matt