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Old 23-10-2015, 07:59 PM
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BradazTheFalconer BradazTheFalconer is offline
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Default My First Experience Of Gamehawking

Hi Everyone

I would like to share with you my diary I put together on my first Gamehawking experience. You will all have to bear in mind that this was written for everyone to understand, Falconer or not, so where there are obvious parts, you now know why. I have also left in the glossary which is written in a way mentioned above, please excuse any mistakes with this, I tried my best. Special thanks goes to Tony James for this opportunity, I will never forget my first experience of Gamehawking at it's finest...

Date: Saturday 26th September 2015
Location: Suffolk, England
Birds: Peregrine Falcon (Dancer), Peale’s Tiercel (1st season.)
Dog: English Pointer (May)

We had an excellent day out with Tony James, couldn’t have asked for better weather really. It was Sunny and sky relatively clear with a few dotted clouds, light wind. We left at around 4 PM and took the drive to the hunting grounds a few miles from the house, seemed like ages but that was probably just the excitement! When we got to the fields, everything looked rather quiet; the land was agricultural with narrow lanes separating the huge expanse of field. I wasn’t really expecting to find something straight away; it was still early at this point. The Falcons were becoming excited also, even though they were hooded; I believed that they still knew what was going on. Tony used his binoculars to scan the top of the stubble which relatively low so the Partridges kept down, knew their vulnerability. A few wild Raptors came to see what we was up to also, three Buzzards calling away and a rather inquisitive Male Kestrel, who crossed over in front of us a few times before going in to hover over one of the fields. After what seemed like forever, the news that I was itching to hear finally came out. At first, Tony thought it was a few Skylarks but on second glance, identified it as a covey of Grey (English) Partridges courtesy of an impatient young bird. Tony threw out his cap onto the grass line, level with the birds and we carried on in the car until we came to the next junction of fields. By now I was fit to burst, I was only expecting a few Red-Legged Partridge, and to have Greys was a real treat. We parked up and prepared Tony’s older bird, Dancer to fly the Partridges. Dancer is in her 7th season and is a Female Peregrine Falcon; she’s had good experience in the field and knows her trade. Especially with this species, a Dog is usually used to point and flush the quarry, in this case, it was May an English Pointer who is a lovely Dog and so well-mannered. I took the Dog, Tony took the Falcon and Dad took the camera and we all set off to find the Partridge. Dancer was cast off after she’d shaken off her feathers or roused as its known, allowing her to gain height whilst we made our way towards the Partridge. When we got level with the quarry, May was let off to re-locate the Partridge’s exact location, it didn’t take her long and she was on point. Tony wasn’t pleased with the height Dancer was at, so he refused to serve her, this is necessary because it shows the bird was slightly too fat or just un-enthusiastic. If you do serve them like this, it can cause bad habits, encouraging them to gain height for a quality stoop is paramount, especially for experienced birds. You also have to remember that it is very early in the hunting season and the birds need waking up a bit. Dancer was called down to the lure which consists of a couple of bird wings which she crossed over a few times before grabbing and taking away a little, another sign that she’s a little heavy. Tony traded off the lure and she was promptly hooded and returned to her perch in the car. This bird had been attached a new GPS telemetry system which allowed us to view the flight pattern, max altitude and max speed, it proved it right that the bird wasn’t giving it’s all. The Partridge were still out there so we got the young Tiercel Peale’s which a sub-species of the Peregrine. This bird hadn’t seen Grey Partridge prior to this flight so it was a new quarry for it, all good experience for a young bird. We took this bird so it was almost level with the covey of Partridge this time as it is less experienced than Dancer so could go off after something else. The bird was circling around us in a tight circle, gradually gaining height each time which was good progress for a young bird. It wasn’t a perfect pitch however this is only expected from such an inexperienced bird, it’ll soon learn that height is of its advantage. May once again had the point on the Partridge and with the Tiercel nearing, Tony sent May in to flush the quarry. Instantly about five or so Grey Partridges flew out and the young bird made a small stoop and then levelled out for the chase. A few had flown straight but most had flown off to the right towards the car and we lost sight of them and the Tiercel. I was very surprised at how fast the Dog was, she was nearly next to the Falcon. Tony thought that the Falcon may have been successful as a fence bordering the fields may have cut the Partridges off, allowing the Falcon a strike at them. It was a few seconds before the young Tiercel re-appeared above the tree line, knowing then that he’d not made a kill, he returned to the lure for a reward and his efforts commended. We took a reflective walk back to the car, thinking of what I’d just witnessed. We drove out of the group of fields and bearing in mind this is now looking rather dusky, was perfect time to be spotting Partridge. Eagle-eyed Tony spotted a covey of Red-Legged Partridge on the field we’d just driven past; they obviously hadn’t seen the Falcons. We reversed back and caught a second glimpse of them, about another five of them tucked in on the hedge line. Unlike flights on Grey Partridge, the Dog wasn’t necessary for this attempt as the preferred method to flush these is by rushing in and shouting them up. We took Dancer, the older Female Peregrine, back out for another go and she was cast off by the car like before. We could instantly tell that this was going to be a better attempt and she made height way quicker this time, this was all looking promising. Tucking into the tree line as to not spook the Partridges was essential and I was somewhat distracted by the bird flying overhead. I couldn’t imagine what passers-by in cars thought we was up to, I think I even saw a few of them look up in shock at seeing the bird following us. We eventually got to the entrance of the field where they were sitting and the Falcon knew instantly what was going on and began to make a wide circling pattern around us. I would’ve thought that the Partridges were now aware of the Falcon’s presence and kept right down, as not to get spotted. When the bird was in prime position and high enough Tony ran in and shouted the Partridges up which instantly turned as they went up to get a clear run along the adjacent field. Dancer zeroed-in on the one she wanted and made her stunning stoop after her target and smacked into the Partridge, about ten foot off the ground which instantly fell and this is where the bird usually meets its waterloo, you can see how humane this actually is. Dancer circled around and then landed on her kill and began mantling as of the local Raptor population. I must’ve been smiling quite brightly as Tony gave me a look as if to say “isn’t it amazing?” He told me afterwards that he was glad the Partridges went up from there as the hedge they were hiding by contained some rather nasty looking brambles and nettles. We walked triumphantly over to the Falcon on her kill where we left her a few minutes to have part of the Partridge and then Tony traded her off for the rest of her meal and back to the car we went. A review of the GPS displayed showed that her max height was about 500 foot and max speed just below 100 MPH which is extremely good for the start of the season. I couldn’t stop talking on the way home and was amazed at what I’d just witnessed, we all just talked about the day’s events and the same happened when we got back to Tony’s place. After talking for a while longer we made the journey back home with a sense of accomplishment inside, I’ll never forget that day.

Glossary:
Stubble: The left over ends of harvested crops.
Covey: A group of Partridges or other Game Birds.
Point: The Dog indicating the exact location of the quarry by freezing and looking in their direction.
Quarry: The prey that is hunted.
Rouse: When the bird shakes and prepares its flight feathers, prior to flight.
Serve: Where you flush or don’t flush quarry for the bird.
Trading off: The Falconer exchanges the lure or kill for a fair-sized piece of meat as a reward and the bird is brought up onto the gloved fist.
Hooding (Hood): This is the leather item that covers the bird’s head, usually used to calm the bird.
Telemetry: The name for the racking device used to locate a bird.
Tiercel: The common word used to describe a Male Bird of Prey in Falconry.
Pitch: The type of pattern the bird adopts in flight.
Peale’s Falcon: A sub-species of the Peregrine which is Greyer in colour and slightly smaller.
Flush: This is when the quarry is sent out of where it is currently.
Casting: The Falconer sends the bird off up into the air.
Stoop: The bird makes a dive from a height.
Mantling: This is when the bird hangs over the kill, hiding it from any possible competition.


If I did get anything wrong with this then please leave the correction, I love to learn as much as I can with this. I hope you all enjoyed this and I expect it brought back memories of younger days for some of those more experienced readers. Please feel free to leave short comparisons of related events on this thread also, I'd love to read other people's early experiences. Hope you all had good starts to the season for those of you with birds this time!

Happy Hawking

Bradley
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Old 23-10-2015, 08:24 PM
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I Love My Dog I Love My Dog is offline
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Default Re: My First Experience Of Gamehawking

Sounds like you had an amazing time Brad
Donna
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Old 23-10-2015, 08:26 PM
Andy Heath Andy Heath is offline
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Default Re: My First Experience Of Gamehawking

Sounds like a fabulous day Bradley, you're a lucky guy.

Andy
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Old 23-10-2015, 08:50 PM
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Tony James Tony James is offline
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Default Re: My First Experience Of Gamehawking

Hi Bradley,

I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.

Maybe we'll be able to do the same later in the season.

Best wishes,

Tony.
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Old 23-10-2015, 09:43 PM
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DaveyMc DaveyMc is offline
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Default Re: My First Experience Of Gamehawking

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony James View Post
Hi Bradley,

I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.

Maybe we'll be able to do the same later in the season.

Best wishes,

Tony.
Good man tony for showing the lad a good day
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Old 23-10-2015, 09:51 PM
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Sean D Sean D is offline
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Default Re: My First Experience Of Gamehawking

No going back now Bradley, once you have seen game hawking done well there is no other discipline of falconry that can compare to a falcon vertical stooping from a 1000 foot, makes me jump up and down every time I see it, It also makes me swear a lot as I get that excited.
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Old 24-10-2015, 08:19 AM
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BradazTheFalconer BradazTheFalconer is offline
Bradley Church
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Default Re: My First Experience Of Gamehawking

Quote:
Originally Posted by I Love My Dog View Post
Sounds like you had an amazing time Brad
Donna
The time of my life Donna!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Heath View Post
Sounds like a fabulous day Bradley, you're a lucky guy.

Andy
I was extremely lucky to be able to witness Tony and his Falcons at work, a real inspirational booster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony James View Post
Hi Bradley,

I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.

Maybe we'll be able to do the same later in the season.

Best wishes,

Tony.
I would love that Tony, be sure to keep updating me on how you're getting on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean D View Post
No going back now Bradley, once you have seen game hawking done well there is no other discipline of falconry that can compare to a falcon vertical stooping from a 1000 foot, makes me jump up and down every time I see it, It also makes me swear a lot as I get that excited.
That sounds exactly what I was about to do, then again, I hadn't the chance because it all happens so quickly!

Regards

Bradley
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Old 24-10-2015, 09:15 AM
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Chance Chance is offline
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Default Re: My First Experience Of Gamehawking

Glad you enjoyed your day Brad, opportunities like that are hard to come by. Atb. John
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Old 24-10-2015, 09:18 AM
Andy Heath Andy Heath is offline
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Default Re: My First Experience Of Gamehawking

Brad,

Make sure you ask Tony all about flying Sparrowhawks when you see him. When Tony was your age he used to knock around with a guy called Jack Mavrogordato, who was a very important chap in the recent development of UK falconry and wrote the Sparrowhawk bible, 'A Hawk for the Bush'. It is an absolute must read for an aspiring young falconer.

Andy
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Old 24-10-2015, 10:21 AM
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Chance Chance is offline
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Default Re: My First Experience Of Gamehawking

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Originally Posted by Andy Heath View Post
Brad,

Make sure you ask Tony all about flying Sparrowhawks when you see him. When Tony was your age he used to knock around with a guy called Jack Mavrogordato, who was a very important chap in the recent development of UK falconry and wrote the Sparrowhawk bible, 'A Hawk for the Bush'. It is an absolute must read for an aspiring young falconer.

Andy
"A hawk for the bush" I still remember buying it many years ago 'brilliant read' wish I knew what happened to it, think it's somewhere in the loft. Atb. John
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