Today marks the completion of 4 weeks since I took Hayduke off the trap.
This past weekend we had our first free flight and first hunt. Unfortunately, nothing spectacular to report. He wasn't interested in the numerous starling slips that presented themselves (I'll have to work on that) but would've gone after some sparrows had I not been stupid and held him back. It was a silly mistake on my part. I'd pulled into a parking space to kick some bushes at Walmart and a sparrow happen to be hopping underneath a parked car a few feet away. Hayduke slicked down and looked ready to go but the sparrow hopped behind a tire and out of sight. Just then Hayduke bated toward it but I held on to the jesses wanting to save the effort for the sparrows in the bushes. Of course, when I kicked the bushes and dozens of sparrows bolted out, he didn't go after them. Shoulda just let him go at the first one even if it was behind a tire...Oh well.
We ended our hunt by going after grasshoppers again. We caught three in short order. It's much easier to hunt grasshoppers when there's no creance attached! I think 2 of the 3 were caught after they initially dodged his attack and he flew them down several feet away.
There is some bad news to report however. I noticed on Sunday that he was favoring his left leg and upon closer examination his foot is a bit swollen. I've checked it over and can't find any visible damage. The bottom of the foot looks fine, the anklets aren't too tight, and he will put pressure on it if compelled to do so but something definitely happened. I'm leaving him in his giant hood today and hoping that its nothing more serious than a sprain. I can't think of a time when he might have injured it but it may have been something as simple as slamming one of those grasshoppers the wrong way. He was standing on it this morning when I fed him but it was still swollen so we'll see how he looks this evening.
Here's hoping for the best.