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I again rushed home from work to get the bird out before dark. I was on my way to a favorite spot but not by my normal route. On the way, I spotted a patch of woods now accessible from a driveway which will doubtless service an industrial park soon. In this little woodlot I saw squirrel nests. I suited up and released the bird. Choctaw found a commanding perch and I beat trees. Within five minutes I heard bells and turned around in time to
see him make a strike at a bushytail in a nearby tree. I ran to assist and arrived just as Mr. Squirrel miscalculated the strength of a tree branch and fell thirty feet in front of me with the bird hot on his tail. The squirrel barely managed to avoid Choc's talons and ran up another tree, leaving Choc on the ground with decidedly ruffled feathers.

At this point, I am always a little worried that Choc's superstitious
nature will prevent him from continuing the hunt. He tends to believe the squirrel stays in the last place he saw it--near the base of the tree, and will often get on a low perch and keep looking down. I have a good strategy to deal with this, but it's time consuming, and the sunlight was fading fast. Luckily, I didn't need it. Choc regained altitude in a timely manner and spotted the bushytail. The squirrel again began running the canopy and I began looking ahead for his likely haven. He made it to his nest tree, gave a taunting cackle, and disappeared into the leafball.

I was not concerned. Choc loves tearing up leafballs, especially when he's certain they are occupied. However, to my surprise, he remained perched in a nearby tree and began preening. Thinking that Choc had somehow missed seeing Mr. Squirrel's entry in his haven, I beat on the tree and did other things which I hoped would get the squirrel to peep out or make Choc a bit
more interested in the nest. No dice. He just sat on his perch and looked around.

Suddenly he took off, flying fifty yards in the opposite direction. I went in pursuit to find him making strikes on another bushytail. As I approached, the squirrel came down and began running along the ground. I chased it up another tree. Choc made several strikes with little success and we settled in for a standoff hunt. This usually occurs when the squirrel and bird both sit in the same tree for a while pretending the other isn't there. They go as far as preening and grooming, then one will feint one way and go another, each trying to lure the other into a hunt-ending
error. It's fun to watch. This went on for ten minutes or so. Choc had repositioned to another tree near where I thought the squirrel wanted to go--a leaf nest two trees from the squirrel. I watched Mr. Bushytail walk along a high, thin limb, tail twitching. He seemed determined to provoke Choc to strike. If Choc missed, the bird's momentum would force him to reperch away from the nest tree, allowing Mr. Squirrel to make a possible
getaway. I waited, eyes locked on the squirrel. To my shock, the bird leaped and slammed that leaf nest. Bells jingled as he stabbed and grabbed. I caught sight of a squirrel tail under his outstretched wings--another squirrel! Within a minute, he glided down with his prize and I lost no time getting to him. The squirrel had one hind foot scratching Choc's face and teeth fastened to Choc's protective footwear when I arrived. As usual, Choc seemed to welcome my assistance and Mr. Bushytail was soon in the bag. Choc ate on the fist as I walked the seventy yards to the car.

Three squirrels engaged in twenty minutes? We'll be returning to that little piece of woods!
 

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Very interesting read!!! Fascinating!! Thanks for sharing, Hawker.
 

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I like reading about your adventures with Choc. Falconry is something I don't get to hear much about...it sounds really cool.

Please keep these posts coming.:)
 

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Great Post!

A few years ago at the South Dakota Govenors Hunt we had a guy come in with his birds and young pups. It was something to see how the bird and the pup worked together to get phesants.

I really enjoyed reading your post and look forward to more!

Marc
 

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Thanks for sharing with us Hawker. I love to hear stories about your hunts. Any time you need a flusher/tree beater let me know

QS:p
 
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