Thursday, November 15, 2007

More persistence needed.

Well, everything went exactly as planned, I got there before dawn and set the trap where I expected her to show up, she came exactly to that spot, just after sunrise... and she just wasn't interested. Maybe she'd already eaten by the time she got there, or maybe she was suspicious of the trap--who knows?

Anyway we only saw one other obviously passage bird, threw for it, it made one low pass and then went right back up to its pole. I called Mr. Kellogg for a pep talk and some advice while I was waiting for a bird to not come down. He says passage hawks are a dime a dozen up his way and thinks I should road trip up to WA to pick up my bird. Holiday Market season being on, I'm not sure I could pull it off until after Christmas, but I suppose if I don't have a bird by then it'll be the solution.

Meanwhile I've got a huge stack of gear to rivet and tag and get sorted for the booth, a stack of orders to get out the door, plus have to finish building my wall-hanging displays--ack! Two days left and a million things to do. See ya at the fairgrounds!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Exercises in persistence.

Oh, man, it's been a busy couple of weeks. I've been out, more or less every second of my life, attempting to trap a hawk before the Holiday Market season starts. The trouble is, there don't seem to be any juvenile red tailed hawks left on the planet.

My sponsor and I have spent whole days driving all over the state in search of a passage hawk. There are days where we've seen forty or fifty adult (or "haggard") birds for one, single passage bird... which will inevitably be perched on a telephone pole along a major highway, in an impossible trapping situation. You expect the juvenile population to be low--80% of them die before reaching a year of age--but this is getting ridiculous.

A couple weekends ago I spent a bunch of time with master falconer and eagle hawker Brian Kellogg of, his lovely wife, Linda, and a former apprentice of Brian's, named Doug. They were kind enough to tote me around with them, take me rabbit-hawking in the desert, and share as much of their collective massive experience as I could cram into my brain in two days. I saw some amazing flights by Brian's Harris Hawk, Shasta at black-tailed jacks, and Linda's young female Harris at cottontails. There was a scary moment when a young tiercel golden eagle soaring in the area spotted Shasta, tucked his wings in, and took a shot at her. Luckily for all he was being harassed by a haggard red tailed hawk and after the close pass, the two of them went back up to a soar have it out overhead instead of the golden taking a free lunch. Brian also had his Bonelli's Eagle, Shiva with him. She wasn't quite at combat weight so not hunting, but pretty neat to see. It's hard to get a sense of how big a bird like that is by that photo, but imagine holding the bird on fist at about hip level, and she's looking you in the eye. In the Mid-East and Asia, falconers hunt deer with their eagles.

It was an amazing weekend. I came back completely inspired and armed with a new plan, re-built my bal chatri, and went forth into the world...

And still didn't find a bird. But hope still springs eternal, and I've had my eye on a bird that hangs out in a particular spot near Corvallis, on a major highway (of course). I spent some time knocking on doors in the area to find the owners of a field she's hunting that runs along side the highway. The property owners were kind enough to grant me permission to trap in their field, so I made an attempt at her this weekend. She made some close passes over the trap, but it was fairly late in the afternoon and she wasn't hungry enough to try and take a grab at it. I'm all set to go at the crack of dawn tomorrow and set the trap below her hunting spot before the sun's up and she's out actively hunting. Hopefully she won't be able to resist a free breakfast all laid out for her.

Anyway, it's all a very zen reminder that absolutely not a single damned thing about this sport comes easy. The nice part about it is that I've logged uncounted miles and memorized the backroads of Western Oregon (and a significant chunk East of the Cascades) like you wouldn't believe, and spent some amazing mornings exploring wild Oregon with the rising sun. Success or no, it's a pretty great way to spend your time, and not a minute of it has been a waste.

In other news, Raw Dog has been gearing up to take a running start at Holiday Market this year with a ton of new inventory in hand. I've taken the last month off Saturday Market and been playing with a few new ideas. It's been great to have time to just cruise and renew the love for playing with the materials. I've made some amazing things, and some fun little things, and definitely a lot of things--all to be unveiled this coming weekend.

This weekend, the 17th, opens the Holiday Market at the fairgrounds, so be sure to come see us if you're in the area. Admission and parking are free, and you'll find an arena full of world-class artisans as well as great international food, live music, and a generally rockin' time. I love being a part of the Holiday Market, and hope to see you all there!