It's been awhile since the skunk monkey showed his ugly face but he got us this weekend. It was super windy, and there just wasn't much on the ground. The past few hunts all we've needed was one slip though and we got three so I've got no excuse...except that these were pretty difficult slips!
The first was at a sparrow under an SUV. It was a good 30 yards out and I didn't really think Hayduke had a chance but he wanted to try anyway. It was actually a lot closer than I thought it would be but as suspected the sparrow saw him coming and ducked under the car. Hayduke shot under the car after it (SUV's have much greater clearance than the Ferrari from last week!) but the sparrow bounced off a tire and shot out in the opposite direction and Hayduke exited the other side, caught a gust of wind and ended up on top of the SUV. I flashed a starling wing and he was back on the fist ready for another one.
The next slip was at a fairly reliable sparrow spot. Someone dumps a bunch of seed at the far end of a Walmart parking lot, right next to some hedges. There's always a ton of sparrows but it's so close to the hedges that we have yet to catch one there. It's always a fun flight though so we tried yet again. They all got to the hedge well before Hayduke arrived but he made a good grab at one of the slower ones and ended up looking up into the hedge trying to figure out how he could grab one of those tasty feathered morsels as they scrambled around inside. I gave him a minute to see if he could come up with anything but he knew he was beat and was blown back to the fist (actually blown past the fist because of the wind, but made an adjustment and pulled himself down) when I flashed the starling wing again.
It took quite awhile and a trip in to new territory to find the last slip. I noticed a starling on a light pole in between a fast food joint and a carwash so I pulled in to take a look. As luck would have it there were quite a few starlings on the ground but not really in a slippable position. I glanced across the street and there were a few more in a better position so I headed in that direction but of course, as soon as I arrived the starlings decided to move on. *Sigh* I went back to the car wash to see if any of them had returned there and spotted 3 of them fighting over a piece of bread about across a small ditch under a sparse evergreen 30 yards away. Another tough one. But Hayduke, being Hayduke, shot off after them. The bread kept the starlings distracted until it was too late and he plowed into one! It started screaming and just as I broke into a run to give the assist, it broke free! Nooooooo!!
It had taken about 2 1/2 hours to get that many slips so that did it for us. I suppose you could say we ended on a high note with such a close call but I've gotten so used to coming home with something in the bag I was a little disappointed. They were all great flights though in difficult conditions, I really shouldn't complain. We'll make up for it soon enough...
An Owl in a High Valley Pasture
2 hours ago