Day 53

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Eagle Journal

Day 53

Jackhammer: 8lbs 6oz

Temp: 55’ / Wind: 5 mph

 

Hello everyone,

I must say it does feel good to be home, mainly to not be driving. Man, that gets old. Today our guest in the field was Nick Dunlop. Nick is an outstanding raptor and nature photographer. You can see his shots in American Falconry magazine and International Falconer magazine regularly, plus Nick regularly has a booth with his work on display at most of the big falconry meets. Check out his website at www.nickdunlop.com.

The game plan for this morning was to work the fields in a way that might produce some photo opportunities. I say might because there is no way to predict which way the jacks will run. The best way I have found is to have the photographer out in front but off to one side, and I hunt up to them and across in front of their position. This way the chances are good that a jack will run in front of the camera giving a unique angle for a shot.

As anyone who has read the eagle journal knows JH can be a little funny about guests in the field. He will, however, eventually warm up to them and start hunting. It took JH the entire big alfalfa hay field to warm up. Nick has a 500 mm lens and that may have contributed to JH being a little stand-offish, but it also could have been my new pants. In preparation for the upcoming trip to Garden City I purchased Cordi and me some new brush/upland game hunting pants. Well, one pair I got is really cool. They are some kind of orangey, brown color unlike any pants I have ever owned. When I picked JH up in his mews this morning he did give them a hard look but then acted his normal self. I think from the tree that JH was sitting in my new pants must have looked a little stranger than he first thought.

JH rarely lands in trees but he did today. After getting him down we went to the FFH and started working with Nick out in front and me hunting up to him. We went almost the entire length of the field before we saw the first jack. Popping up some 30 yards in front of me a jack was running straight away. JH just calmly rolled off my fist and took off in pursuit. Building speed, JH overtook the jack easily and slammed into it with force. The impact caused the jack rabbit to flip up in the air with JH also adjusting his grip in mid air. Once controlled all that was left was the dust to settle. Nick said what everyone else says wow, he made that look easyWe hunted our way back to the truck with JH making a couple of nice long flights — not good for photographing, but fun to watch.

Next we went to the goat field and jacks were running everywhere. We quickly got out in the field. There is an area in this field where the cover is short and for some reason lots of jack rabbits hang out there. We must have flushed 15 jacks and every one went the wrong direction, away from the camera! The temperature was warming up so we decided to work our way back to the truck. We easily flushed 50 jacks just in this field alone. They were running in every direction with JH watching, looking for the right one. JH left the fist and flew out over the field building speed, made a move on a rabbit and let his momentum carry him high up in the air. Turning, JH locked onto another jack rabbit running on his left, simply folded up, and caught the running jack.

Hope all is well,

Joe         

Pic 1:   JH on the 1st jack rabbit

Pic 2:   pretty cool pants, I’d say