Jackhammer: 8lbs 5oz
Temp :58’ wind: 0 mph
Fall is definitely here — the mornings are cool and the grass is wet with dew. I went to the 10 acre alfalfa hay field. I haven’t hunted that field for a while and seeing that I was out early this morning I figured I’d give it a try. The alfalfa is tall, almost knee high, and in this field there are large areas that the jacks have eaten down to almost bare ground. When flushed the jacks will come out of the thick hay and bolt into the open ground at full speed. It seems dumb because if they would just stop in the thick stuff JH could no longer see them and they would be fine, but jack rabbits are born to run and run they do! The interesting thing is JH knows that if the rabbit stops running in the thick hay he will loose it so, with this in mind, JH really explodes off the fist and flies very hard and fast to get on top of the running rabbit. What I do is walk 20 or 30 feet into the hay, kind of following the edge of the eaten down parts. The parts that the rabbits have cleared look like a huge single piece from a jig-saw puzzle. I’m also testing out the second pair of hunting pants I purchased and thankfully, yes, they are water proof. There was so much moisture on the hay that water was running off my legs. This is not all that good for eagles. Eagles soak up water like sponges and because of their large size the water seems to affect them a lot.
I walked a long ways out in the field and the whole time JH was standing tall and looking for any sign or movement. He knows these fields and is supremely confident. All I can figure is that JH saw an ear move or something because the second I saw the jack move JH was already gone. The rabbit burst out of the cover and was hauling across the open ground which is short like the front lawn of someone’s house. The jack rabbit did not have time to do anything but run and it did not get very far. I have said over and over to see an 8 pound bird with a 6 foot wing span fly that fast and overtake a jack rabbit is quite unbelievable. I hope that everyone who reads the eagle journal can someday see for themselves what I’m talking about .you will be amazed.
JH has been a little sticky coming off jacks that he has caught. More times than not he steps up nicely but he gets in his moods and then we enter into negotiations. Eagles are dangerous to pick up off a kill and JH is no exception. I must proceed with extreme caution. But I did get him up on the fist, tried to ring out his tail a little which was dripping water, and off we went. I was all the way down at the far end of the field when JH locked on point. I froze and could not for the life of me see the rabbit but, sure enough, one flushed and JH was on it. The rabbit took off across JH’s body from right to left which meant that JH had to rotate as he was launching. The second JH was airborne the jack made a sharp right turn followed by an equally sharp left turn. JH stayed with the jack rabbit turn for turn and actually had things well in hand. With his soaked tail and wings, however, he was just a little slow on the turns and the jack just barely escaped. But all that flapping did dry his feathers a little, as the next rabbit found out. While walking all the way back to the truck the third jack rabbit of the morning decided to flush. This jack took off in a bending run that was heading for the fence. JH, slightly drier, had little trouble flying down this jack rabbit.
Travel time down to fields 40 minutes, time spent in fields hunting 30 minutes, time spent driving home with a donut, replaying the flights in my head priceless!
Hope all is well,
Pic: 1 JH in wet alfalfa hay with jack.
Pic: 2 JH hooded, waiting for me to get the rabbit in my vest and pick him up.
Having JH sit on the ground has caused a little controversy. I show him doing that in our DVD and falconers here in the USA and over in Europe are aghast. They wonder why he does not fly away. This is simply his routine — he knows that I’m coming and that we are going to continue hunting. I have never had an eagle fly off.