Friday the weather was perfect. Slightly overcast and unusually warm for this time of year with a slight breeze. With the end of the official hawking season fast approaching (less than a month away), I was dying to get out of the office as soon as possible and hunt with the Harris. Following the advice of a much respected falconer who is highly successful with male Harris' on sparrows I had finally gotten around to making a T-perch and was excited to see how PK would take to it.
I finally named it! Albeit in the same lame way I named Spark...Punk shortened=PK. I pity my children and the names they'll have! Thank goodness I've got a wife whose head is on straighter than mine!)
After completing a honey-do list at light speed after work I sped out to Kishigawa. Uchimura wasn't at the clubhouse when I arrived so with no pleasantries to take care of I grabbed some quail, weighed PK, and headed for the now familiar irrigation ditch. I quickly learned that holding the T-perch with a bird on it directly above your head is not the most sanitary way to go about hawking. I narrowly avoided the white wash on my head but my jacket did not fair so well. PK took to the perch like a champ though and I suppose it helped that it is covered in the same green astroturf that the scales are. After a few reinforcing tidbits he was more than willing to ride the T-perch for as long as my arm could stand it. We headed to the large resevoir that feeds the irrigation ditch and he took a number of shots at sparrows but couldn't connect. Upon arrival at the resevoir we headed to the far corner where a group of teal tend to hide among the reeds. Half way to our destination PK must've seen something (probably a coot) slinking through the reeds on the side we had just come from and took off on 150 yard flight straight across the resevoir. I could tell by the way he hit the bushes that whatever had been there was long gone by the time he got there so I wandered back in his direction while he hopped up the bank. I got him back on the perch and headed to another pond since the teal had flushed when he took the long flight.
We walked back down the ditch and carefully avoided the pet ducks this time as we made our way to the pond that was sure to hold some more coot. I snuck along the edge of a rice field hoping to get as close to the reeds as possible before sending PK in for the attack. PK had other plans though and took off before I was within the desired range. The coot dove for cover and PK forced a teal back into the water but came away empty footed. As I rounded the corner to pick PK up, the teal made good his getaway.
We had never been further down the ditch from that point but since I had time I thought I'd give it a go and PK seemed obliged. Within 50 yards he dove of the perch and scared the bejeebers out of a wood pigeon that had been resting next to the water. It was encouraging but unfortunately after a few hundred more yards we weren't even seeing any more sparrows and ran into a wildlife preservation area so we turned back. On our way back to the clubhouse PK dropped off the perch after a snipe that flushed almost directly beneath us in the ditch but was easily discouraged by it's speed.
We again returned to the clubhouse with an empty game bag but some good attempts and lots of exercise for the both of us. We'd been out a good 3 and a half hours!
The next day we were scheduled to go up to Nara in search of ducks again but the weather didn't cooperate. The rain was pouring out of the sky and I was thouroughly drenched having missed the phone call canceling our trip by the time I reached the clubhouse. I dried off while watching some hawking videos and then decided that it had let up enough to go try the nearby ponds since I was out there already. PK was rather high so I wasn't sure how he'd do but we were in luck. There was a coot up out of the water next to the pond! About 30 yards out it noticed us coming and inched toward the water but PK launched after it. Oguni was with me and started yelling, "HE GOT IT! HE GOT IT!" but there were no signs of a struggle and I had seen it slip into the water just ahead of PK's open talons. It was perhaps the best chance we've had all season but yet again, we're just inches away. I spent the rest of the day puttering around the clubhouse going out when the rain let up but not much was out.
Again, thanks to the advise of Matt Mullenix, I'll be taking the bells off of PK next week and see if that helps our success rate at all. The season is winding down much too fast and I still haven't put anything in the bag! It's rather depressing!
James Lee Mansell, RIP
4 days ago