I was a bit worried about finding the location for trying to achieve my next goal, as I hadn’t heard from Aaron, my hawk-flying contact. He had emailed me a few months ago and told me of a hawk-flying event he would be attending on 1st November in Wagoner, Oklahoma, just off Route 66. So after a few emails back and forth, I arranged to set off on my Route 66 journey in time to reach Wagoner for the event, and last night made it to town.
But in the days leading up to today, I hadn’t heard from Aaron, and I only had an email address, no other contact details at all. So when I woke this morning I searched through the emails from Aaron for a clue as to when and where to look in Wagoner.
After a bit of rudimentary detective work I found the right place, and introduced myself to the first guy I found with a hawk on his hand. It turned out that Michael had been expecting me, and he introduced me to Sifin, his Krider’s Red- Tailed Hawk, an beautiful bird. Before long he had a glove on my hand, and Sifin was sat there quite happily.
I met a couple of other members of the group, and was introduced to Bob, the leader of the day’s activities. We chatted for a while, and he asked what my goal was specifically, which was to have a hawk fly to my hand, land on it and eat something.
“Okay, let’s make that happen now,” he said, and set me up about 30 metres away with a glove with some meat on it. His majestic female Harris Hawk, Valkyrie, flew from his hand, and swooped low to the ground towards me, rising up at the last second to land on my hand and eat the meat. What an incredible sight to see such a large bird coming straight towards you.
After that we headed out into the bush to go hunting with Valkyrie. This involves the hawk flying along on it’s own above a group of people beating the undergrowth with sticks to try to flush out any rabbits or othe small game hiding in there.
It was wonderful to watch the hawk and handler work together as a team, with the hawk somtimes following just behind the beaters, or sometimes flying ahead to sit high on a branch and watch the ground in front of the line of beaters as we approached.
Valkyrie did not catch anything on that run through as we did not find any game, but later in the morning CB’s young Passage Red-Tailed Hawk, possibly called Heather, but name not quite decided on yet, caught a small snake and a rabbit.
What an amazing experience, and what a privilege to be able to go along and take part. Thanks to all who helped out and made me feel so welcome, particularly Bob, Michael, James, Aaron (in his absence), the guys with cameras whose pix I have used (links below), and everyone else who made this such a memorable experience.
Chris Saxton Photography
Michael Veach Photography
Danny B Photography