Published on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

As usual, I decide to drop Smash’s weight and get going and he gifts me with a feather. Just a friendly reminder of who is really in charge.

Spent last Saturday driving to Louisiana and back. It felt good to reconnect. Congrats to Redcoat, he survived a trip down the mighty Mississip’, avoiding the fate of his forebears almost  two centuries ago. His hawk is damned nice, too.

I came home and thought about the last few years. The rabbit population crashed years ago and the drought has all but wiped them out. We’ve been sniping sparrows and such, but I still feel like I’m not doing my part. Smash doesn’t care as much as I do, if at all. We still bag good numbers every time we go out. Still, I end up judging the season by my efforts, not his.

In the last 4 years, I’ve conditioned more than 120 birds for rehab release. Not all have been flown on the hunt, most of them proved they had the ability to hunt. I’ve also picked up many hundred more birds for the rehabbers I’ve worked with. I’ve lost count of the overall total over the years, but I’ve had a thousand or so overall pass through my hands.

I am trapped by keeping score.

Smash doesn’t keep score.

Drop his weight, give him prey. He doesn’t over-think, he doesn’t judge. He does things according to his nature.

He does it very, very well.








Fall’s Coming

Published on Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

It’s still hot. By my count we’ve had more than 60 days over 100 degrees with more to come. The days are getting shorter, though. This year’s broods have all fledged and are moving on.

Last Sunday our local Mississippi kites started moving on south. That, along with the days becoming noticeably shorter, tells me fall will be here soon. It’s time to start preparing.

The hawk has a few more feathers to drop. He didn’t molt as quickly this year. There’s still plenty of time. Some may like to get out in the field as quickly as possible, but not me; I’m content to wait for things to cool down.

I have no idea what this season will bring. The drought is taking a terrific toll on wildlife. There is no water in any pond I’ve seen. No grass for quail to hide in. Some say there’s a mini-boom happening with the rabbit population, but it’s likely that they’re more visible in a desperate search for food. Once the summer grasses are gone, there will be little, if anything, for them to eat.

So, we’ll see.


Published on Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Everyone came home.

Today was the first day in the field.  More of a free-flight conditioning exercise than a real hunt, but something moved and he killed it, so I guess it counts.

We failed to impress each other.

Smash has never been one to work at jump-ups or fly on a creance.  It’s a process of getting him to weight and then turning him loose.  The first hunt is mostly a contest to see who’s in the worst shape.  I always win. 

We were both gassed early on. He stopped cold after 30 minutes and I was grateful. I’m not sure I’m gonna make it, but I’ll try.

Because we don’t do any of the traditional pre-season stuff (sorta like Brett Farve but with a lot less money to worry about and much larger Wranglers), I play it safe. Short hunt in a well-known and easily controlled environment. No expectations, just get an idea of where we’re are after the layoff.

He looked at the lure like he’d never seen it before, but I think he really just wanted me to hand it to him. We both have some work to do.

For now, it’s good have been back out in the field and even better to back in.

All Dressed Up

Published on Monday, September 13th, 2010

Tropical Storm Hermine put the brakes on weight control last week.  She also gave us more than year’s worth of rain in one day and a week’s worth of smoldering humidity.  The grass greened right up and everything is very tall and thick in the field.  Excellent places for rabbits to put in and not be found.

It took Smash out of his rhythm and started hanging on to his weight.  That really isn’t a bad thing since the nuisance birds are just now starting to show up for fall.

Had we started on Saturday, it would have been a hot, muggy grasshopper chase.  I drove southwest to Fort Worth yesterday and noticed field after field of starlings again.   I saw more hag red-tails, too.  It should start picking up really well soon.

Two or three more days and he’ll be ready to go.  So, I have my sights aimed at this coming Thursday.

The Zen of Falconry

Published on Friday, November 27th, 2009


The rabbit


The rabbit


Even if you have no idea what a rabbit is.

Off to the Canyonland

Published on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

We are heading out to the Caprock Canyonlands Saturday morning. It’s my annual week or so retreat from technology and hygiene. I need to go see how the prairie falcons are doing.

I’ve made the trip many times, never alone, but never more than five of us. It’s supposed to snow there the day before we get there and will likely be bumping up to 100 before we return.

We will hike for hours or sit in the sand of a little used wash, watching the wind erode the canyon walls. We may find old bones and break one or two of our own. We’ll spit sand out of our coffee and pick prickly pear spines from places on our arms and legs we thought were protected.

Despite a barren and inhospitable first impression, it is a warm land with life re-emerging after winter. I have pages of triple- columned lists of plants, grasses, bugs, reptiles, birds, and animals we’ve seen or heard or just found traces of over the years.

It’s a trip back in time.

The canyon as we know it was formed in the triassic period, after the continents separated and the great salt sea drained away. For over 10,000 years, man has lived in these canyons. Some left only the barest trace, others left a turbulent history well known to us today.

Over time I have learned that my family is part of that recent history and it is good to reconnect with them in the simplest manner of just being there.

It is a good place and I am more than ready to go.


Published on Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

We got a break on Sunday.  A rabbit hiding under a small cedar atop the ridge at our usual hunting field did not.

The wind finally laid a bit and we got out for a while at mid-afternoon.  I really didn’t expect much, birds are scarce now and in this spot, the rabbits are very wise to the ways of all the local predators.

These aren’t your soft, plump city bunnies, full of fat and comfortable from feasting on ornamentals, wary only to the occasional dog or great horned owl.  The rabbits here, when they come out at all during the day, are on full alert.  In this field alone there are bobcats, coyotes, foxes, dogs, great horneds, red-tails, harrier hawks, American kestrels, and a couple of Harris’ hawks that cruise the acres shark-like, taking anything and every thing they can.

Animals lower in the food chain do not move very far from safety.    The stakes are high.  What looks like an empty, unused field needing industry to claim part or all of it, is full of life and death at each moment.

The new owners of the adjacent property cleared all cedars, grass, and underbrush, making the land look like a park.  They brought in cattle and big bales of hay to complete the scene.  I’m a poacher there now.  Nothing to worry about, though, I don’t hunt patented steak.

At first it bothered me.  These fields had gone fallow and all the native grasses and other forbes were returning.  Aside from the invasive cedars, we beginning to see a little of what this area may have looked like before it was over-farmed.

I was pissed that, once again, nature was losing to profit, switchgrass was  plowed under and replaced with Nature’s Better Bermuda®.

Then I realized that all the rabbit habitat on that side was gone and now the little critters only had my field to for retreat.

So, I got over it. Quickly.

Besides, in the long run, the picturesque cattle park will one day give way to a new high school, manufacturing buildings, or something else vitally important to what we do as people.  Nothing is going to completely escape our footprint as long as we’re here to find a spot to build something on.

In the meantime, I now have a field with rabbits.

And Smash is very agreeable to the current situation.

The cottontail I mentioned earlier planned his escape well.  He resolutely held his position under a cedar less than two feet tall as we did all the correct rabbit hunting things.  By all rights, a city bunny would have flushed well before he did.  He let us all stand still and talk.  He let us get close and stop next to him in sparse cover.  He made no move to give away his position.

After we all had passed, he bolted in the opposite direction from the hawk, giving himself at least a 10 yard head start.

What he did not realize is that Smash is at a point where he is strong and focused.  He is flying hard and fast with no intention of missing or letting go.  He is a Harris’ hawk at his peak.

The rabbit ran all of five yards before Smash had covered the distance and latched on to him.  The strength of a young buck in his prime carried them another five yards.

Then it was over.

Less than a few seconds had passed, but no time at all registered with me.  I felt him kick the pole back as he took off and then I was on my knees making in.

Smash is having much too good of a season to even think of stopping now.

Wind and Time

Published on Saturday, March 7th, 2009

This is the time of year where I usually hang it up for the season.  Our March winds blow hard and almost daily.  Add to that the dozens of family activities, and I usually find myself with fewer opportunities to get out.  It becomes almost impossible to find enough hours in the day to react quickly enough when the infrequent hole in the wind appears.

It might be different this time around.   Daylight savings time begins tomorrow.  We’ll have an extra hour to watch and prepare for a sudden drop in wind near sunset.

So, this year I haven’t stopped.  Well, not completely.  As I said previously, Charlie is taking a break.  He has to get ready to start flying again in mid-summer when the birds come to snatch the ripening grapes and berries at the local farms and vineyards.

I have given Smash a bit more than a week’s rest.   I started taking his weight up right after his big day a couple of weeks ago.  We hunted once last Sunday, but it was obvious he was not as interested.  Tomorrow he will be back in the killing zone.

And, if the forecast holds, the wind will co-operate, too.

I guess that’s a roundabout way to say that I’m not calling an end to the season any time soon.

The Nature of Time

Published on Monday, November 17th, 2008

The intended definition of time is that it is part of a measuring system used to organize events into a sequence, create a sense of order and specify duration between events, and enable comparisons between durations and intervals.

Somewhere along the way, duration of time became the basis of assigning and judging value.  People traded based on how long a duration of valuable services were given and received.   The concept came with both rewards and abuses.  Tales of doctors who take up your valuable time by making you wait excessively to see them and lawyers who bill for seemingly impossible numbers of hours for services are commonplace enough to make your ears glaze over with each telling.

Then came the Age of Information.  Time and duration intervals previously known only to exist in the scientific crowd suddenly entered everyone’s daily language – milliseconds, nanoseconds, megaherz, megamillions powerball, and more.

Durations are now shorter and shorter and people get involved in more and more things to fill each interval.  A family’s schedule is full and overlapping,  an endless and on-going attempt to orchestrate impossibility.  Any successfully completed event  is met with smug self-acknowledgement of how well we can multitask.

People understand a negligible amount of what lays behind technology and science, but they sure do love the vocabulary.  Multitasking!  Women do it better than men!  Men can’t do it at all!  Only men can do this job because it requires multitasking!!  I can do it and you can do it, too, if you you read my blog, buy my book, watch my infomercial!

As with most things, if folks truly understood what it meant, the word would never be used again in common conversation.

Instead, the concept has been assimilated and redefined for mass consumption, and with it appears that  the very nature of time itself is changed.

Nowhere is this any more apparent as it is in the world of Major Technology Consulting Sevices.  We have not only organically leveraged our synergies and extended our core competencies with value-driven values derived from our best shore approaches to continuously improve upon customer satisfaction experience through extension of the wait periods of the dreaded doctor’s visit and hours billed at numbers that lawyers do not (yet) know the names for,  we have changed the very perception of time itself.

Terms like second, minute, hour no longer are part of a system of measurement, created to bring order between events.  They are now physical objects in space that have all the attendant properties such as mass, shape, velocity, and so on, unrelated to one another.  The only carry-over from the out-dated way of viewing time is its limitlessness.

I didn’t go very far in math and went too far for my ability in physics.  My ability to understand marketing is nil and that is what causes me the most difficulty understanding these new concepts.  What I have gleaned from it all so far is that these newly acquired physical properties can be defined thusly: a minute is a polygon with n-sides, where n is my current task load in a specified interval, which is made up of a whole lot of little intervals that are just like it, combining into bigger intervals with even more stuff just like all the others.  n-1 is the maximum real number of tasks I can accomplish during any one of those interval thingies, but is of no consequence.  Furthermore, the value of n increases exponentially over time.

The most obvious flaw with that concept is that if I should ever reach a state of having nothing to do in any interval, it would then become an object with a negative number of sides and many new books, blogs, social sciences, and hyperventilating consultancies would have to brought in to quickly explain The New Multitasking.

The folks I work with would never let that stop them, though.  We’d just have to modify the billing system.  Won’t take long at all.

Every now and then in the last few weeks, I have managed to assign one of those n-1’s to hawking and slipped out.  Nothing big happening, but leaves are gone and it’s looking better out there.

The hawks are doing well, even though Charlie clearly is not our President-elect.  He did finish a close second to the Republican guy in our middle school’s 6th grade.  He probably would have won if we started campaigning sooner.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we could really put any effort into it.