Friday, February 10, 2006

look skyhawker

Strange, ridiculous and completely cool. I've been hawking a field that has both jacks and pheasants, and am mostly having a blast. It's got a load of tall dillweed, all dead and crispy, and some skinny creeks with tules: both ideal pheasant hiding spots. If I go at most once every three weeks, I can get some good flushes. The only trouble with this place is an uncrossably wide canal, and a better field on the other side. That's where most of the pheasants are, but I can't get to that part.

We'd been tromping through these things, and had three flushes, of which only one was any good (the other two started way far away.) P chased the good flush, but was outflown. I had been through most all of it and was pretty sure everyone had gone. I had P on the T-perch and mounted a little hill, then stopped to rest a few seconds while P looked around.

He dropped almost straight down onto something at the base of the hill. Almost instantly came a rattling of feathers, and a big rooster (well, they're all big, I suppose) bounced up into the air. All in the same amount of time to take one step down from where I was. On his way up, the cock started turning towards the safe field. He noticed me just as he was at my eye level – I swear for a moment our eyes met – and he pumped his wings frantically to correct his heading.

With no conscious thought (use the Force, Luke!) I swung the T-perch at him. That morning I had replaced the two-foot wide top (for carrying two birds) with a six-inch top, and the vertical part is 1.5" PVC tube, so this was approximately like trying to hit a baseball with a ruler. Before you say this shouldn't be a problem, I should mention that as a kid I played baseball (by which I include all baseball-like games, such as football) a grand total of four times. I developed my eye-hand coordination from pouring test tubes in my chemistry set, and playing doctor. Fine motor control is no insignificant skill.

I felt a thump of connection in my hands, saw his flight waver. But he was moving away and I obviously didn't hit him in a place that would stop him, like the wing or the chest. I must have caught his rear half, and pheasants are damn sturdy creatures. He kept going, over the canal and down to his tules. I was too surprised at what I'd just done to track him. I've done some silly things, like leaping to tackle quarry, so this shouldn't be unexpected. But I didn't expect to actually connect.

Of course, it would have been mo'betta if P had done the connecting. I'm not sure he actually grabbed the pheasant in the first place – had he done, the cock would have stayed down at least one second. There should have been more thrashing. But it happened just out of my line of sight, so I can only guess.

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