Tuesday, December 04, 2012

North American Falconers Association Meet

Over Thanksgiving weekend we went to the North American Falconers Association meet in Kearney NE.  There were hundreds of falconers there from all over the United States as well as several other countries including Canada, Australia, Great Britian, France, Japan and Uzbekistan, it was quite the cultural experience. This is the weathering yard for the falcons...

and this is the weathering yard for the hawks. The birds are perched outside so they can get fresh air and sunshine. The weathering yards have volunteers that watch and make sure everyone is safely tethered, has water, etc. They do such a great service for the meet and I very much appreciated them!

Here's Khaleesi in the weathering yard...I think she was a little freaked out in the begginging,  being with so many other red-tails!
We ventured out into the Nebraska countryside Thanksgiving morning, our sponsor had already gotten landowner permission to hunt a lot. We got Khaleesi out to hunt, but she was a little too full, and not interested, so our friends got out their Harris Hawks. Harris Hawks are the only raptors that hunt co-operatively. Here they are sitting together on my car getting ready to go,very cute! We tramped around the field for a while, without any luck,so we headed back to the meet and put Khaleesi out to weather hoping she'd lose an ounce or two.

We headed back out to the boonies and found another field that looked good-we stopped at the closest farm and asked if they knew who owned the propery, they did and gave us directions to his house and told us his name. All the locals we ran into were super polite and friendly...I think they thought we were kinda nuts, but they were really nice lol! We found the landowner, got permission and started hunting the Harris' hawks...

After tramping through the brush for a while, they got lucky and brought down a squirrel with their team-work!
We went back to the motel and checked out the vendor booths and had some cocktails-I can't speak for all falconers, but the ones I met were into hanging out and having a few cocktails, they were a lot of fun! Around 10 p.m, we realized we were starving and decided to order a pizza-guess what? All 4 pizza places in Kearney were already closed! So some of our friends decided they'd venture out for fast food...we didn't see them again for several hours, they'd gotten caught up in Thanksgiving Night/Black Friday traffic madness. Who would have thought that little Kearney would have such a thing? Sadly, I guess the Black Friday thing is pandemic!
We got up the next morning with a group of several people and headed out into frigid 18 degree weather to try it again...

but my Khaleesi bird was still a little too fat to be interested in hunting...she just flew up on the barn roof...and preened, which is pretty much the opposite of being interested in hunting for a raptor!

She did follow on a little and came right back to the glove, so her training is good, I've just gotta take that extra ounce off before we hunt again!
A few other falconers had brought their birds too, so we got to watch them fly, which is always fun for falconers! The old homestead we were allowed to hunt on was very picturesque-of course I couldn't resist getting a photo at the chicken coop!

That night was the last night of the meet, and they had what I thought was a very cool closing ceremony-many  of the falconers had saved the quarry their birds had caught and it was laid out on leaves and grasses in the middle of a field with torches all around. The tradition was a German one, and a German falconer lead the ceremony. The number of each type of quarry taken was given, then each type of quarry was given a different musical salute, with the final salute incorporating all the different strains. It wa a very moving salute to thank the quarry.
The closing banquet was very well done; the food was good and the speakers gave a lot of interesting information. This is a bad picture,but I took it so I could remember what it said, which is: The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has stated "Falconry, a living human heritage" I think that's very cool!

After the banquet, we hung out with friends old and new. We met a lot of really nice friendly people and got to hang out with friends we'd already made, it was a really fun time...this picture was taken about 2:30 a.m, so that should attest to how much fun we were having. A really fun week, can't wait to go again next year. happytrails!

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