JWN Arts & Hawking 

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Entering and Early Hunting
copyright Jim Nelson, 2017

Entering and Early Hunting

      Assuming that you have taken the time to temper your hawk in the chamber properly, and that you have also taken time to properly train it to the fist and lure as described in the previous chapter, the entering of this bird will not be difficult. You will now simply put all the elements together and make them gel.

      The first entering experience can even be done with the hawk still on a long creance, for this will not be a long or difficult flight.  It will simply be an experience that bridges the out of doors training on the creance with the indoors experience of tempering in the chamber.  With a live and vigorous bobwhite quail tethered on a long line, dizzied and hidden inside a convenient patch of cover within a wide open space, approach with your hawk hooded and on the fist.  When you are standing within ten feet of the cover, unhood the hawk and allow it to fully adjust to its surroundings.  Do not wait too long so that he or she become impatient and attempts to take flight.  Move slowly and deliberately toward the cover.  Many austringers will make an ongoing "shish" sound to alert the hawk to impending flight.  This may or may not be significant with an aplomado, because in time these flights will go for quite a ways and from almost any position, so the initial seconds of flush mean very little to an alethe as it might with an accipiter. Either way, approach the cover and with your toe extract the quail being careful the line does not tangle and bring the flushing quail down too suddenly or too soon.  When the quail flushes the aplomado will almost certainly pursue in an instant.  The aplomado’s creance (if it is wearing one) must not be shorter than the quail’s tether line, and it must not entangle.  If things go correctly the hawk will capture the quail within just a few feet, either before or after the quail hits the end of the line.

      This first experience of capturing a flying creature from off of the fist is an important one, but it will not be very entertaining.  Allow your hawk to sit on its kill and relax.  Even if the flight was short, he or she will be keyed up from the sudden appearance of the quail, the sprinting flight, however short, and then ground struggle.  Millions of years of evolution has also wired this creature to be wary at this extremely vulnerable moment.  If you rush this moment you will regret it for the next 15 years, so hunker down on the ground and prepare to wait.  Let your hawk relax and go to the work of plucking and eating.  In most instances the predator will choose to begin feeding on the head and neck first.  These parts are the easiest to tear into and consume.  They do not represent a great deal of food so there is no reason not to let the hawk enjoy these parts without interruption. 

       After the head and neck are consumed, the hawk will seem to shift into a new gear, plucking gear.  The rest of the carcass is less easily broken into, and the natural inclination of the hawk (if not stressed or crowded) will be to flip the quarry over on its back and begin ripping out breast feathers with its beak. Of course there are may variations on this theme, but the idea is that the hawk must spend a bit of time cleaning the carcass to expose the parts that it will next want to consume, usually the breast.  After allowing an initial time to pass to let the bird settle into the act of plucking, it is time to put the lure trick into action.