Saturday, November 14, 2009

Almost Hawking

Well, we're almost hunting. Doc did great today, going up 1,000' to the bait on the kite. Tomorrow the plan is to send him back up 1,000' to a target on the kite and release a pigeon under him. This will be our first real "flushed game". If he does well with this then we'll be looking for wild game.

Doc's weight is now up to 450grams and he is flying very strong, he wasn't even breathing hard today and he had quite a climb into a 10mph wind.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

After much internal deliberation I have decided to go back to the kite. I’ve trained plenty of birds with the use of pigeons. I had a gyr/peregrine that would spec out daily from the use of pigeons. But this was before kites and if I had to do it again, I’d use a kite.

After two days of letting Doc fly around aimlessly, letting him chase pigeons and waiting for him to decide on his own to go up (which I have NO DOUBT, he would have soon) it just didn’t feel right to me to know how to use such a valuable tool and leave it in my truck. I wouldn’t forego lure training or hooding or telemetry or any other advancement in the sport just because it wasn’t done in the past. My name is Eric Edwards and I love my kite. ;-)

So the quick run down: on free flight #2 I tried the kite but he ignored the bait and just flew around. Flight 3 and 4 were without kite, I let him fly and served a few pigeons, he got up to about 50’ and did check out the field some. Flights 5 and 6 we were back to the kite. On flight 5 he immediately recognized the bait and rang right up to 30’ and pulled it down. Day 6 he went up 200’ immediately to the bait.

I’m sure it’s just me but I’m much more comfortable with the direction of my training right now. I’ve trained enough birds to know that the key to training any behavior is clearly communicating to the bird what you want. The quicker the bird understands what you’re asking of it the quicker your training will progress.

For me it’s all about hawking game as soon as possible and I think the kite will get me in the field quicker. I plan to have him up to 1,000’ by the end of the week, serving game under him. Next week we’re hawking. (that’s the plan right now anyway)

I really appreciate ALL the advice and input I’ve gotten on training Doc and I’m always all ears. I’ll take all the free advice I can get.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

To Kite or Not to Kite????

My initial plan for this bird was to treat him like every other peregrine or Barbary I've flow in the past 8 years and train him to the kite.

I like kite training as a transition from the creance to game hawking. When you train a peregrine or any falcon to "wait on" your goal is to have a bird that will fly high up into the air and circle overhead, waiting for a bird to flush. There are many ways to accomplish this and I've used most of them, but I’ve found the kite to consistently produce great results.

But, naturally there was no kite training 40 years ago when falconers last trained passage peregrines and most of the experienced passage guys suggested the kite was not needed.

The second day of free flight I put the kite up to 800’ and put the bait 10’ off the ground. I unhooded Doc and he just sat on the glove staring at me, probably wondering what I wanted him to do. Previously I had always put him on a perch to start our training. He looked at the bait and back at me and finally took flight.

He circled out and came back towards me and the kite but flew right past the bait. He continued to circle around but never went for the bait. I finally called him down to the lure and let him eat the food on the lure. While on the lure I unhooked the bait from the kite and walked it over closer to him. Once he finished the food he finally hopped up a few feet and grabbed the bait from the kite lure line.

I started second guessing my kite training approach and the next two days out (including today) I didn’t put the kite up and tried traditional pigeon training. He flew around both days making circles around me getting up to 50’ or so and I served him a pigeon when I thought he was starting to lose focus.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings but I think I may pull my kite back out.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Day of First's

There were two important first's today. First free flight and first bath.

I intended to fly him free yesterday but my plans were spoiled by a juvenile Bald eagle. I flew him to the lure on the creance and then just when I was planning to un-tie the string for the second flight an eagle flew right over us, looking down and circled 3 times overhead. I chickened out and did the second flight on the creance also.

But today there was no creance. He made 8 or 9 circles around me, making a few half hearted attempts at the lure then I threw it out on the ground and he flew right down to it.

Back at home he finally decided to use his bath pan and take his first bath on his shelf perch.