Thursday, February 02, 2006

the xx advantage

The flipside of my conflagration post is that women possess qualities that make them better falconers than men. First, women are less inclined to go numbers-crazy – unlike men, they don't believe the quantity of game they catch is a direct testament to their skill as falconers. They're not as driven to compete, they're less compulsed to catch more game than all their friends or announce (read: brag) exactly how many.

Consequently their birds don't get overworked. In my personal opinion, there are reasonable and unreasonable amounts to work your bird. If my bird catches one jackrabbit, we're done (exceptions: a super-easy catch, and film students.) A jackrabbit is 4 to 5 times his weight of 22 ounces. I wouldn't even consider trying to control an 800-pound anything with my bare hands – I know I'd lose even if I had twice the banshee a hawk has. A cottontail, depending on type, is considerably easier at 16-32 ounces, so two or three is not unreasonable to demand. But multiple jackrabbits or a half-dozen bunnies in one day simply isn't fair to him. It leaves the realm of behavior considered normal for a hawk feeding a family, and increases the risk of stress injuries.

Digressing, obviously, but to bring it back to the subject of women, I've met no women falconers who are that demanding, and a number of men who are. Men are more inclined to see hawks as tools, concerned with their performance. Women almost always view their hawks as partners or friends, treat them with more consideration, and are less inclined to quickly ditch a bird they don't like. Hawks like consistency and stability.

Do these qualities make a "better" falconer? It depends on how you define "better," but I consider the aspects of hunting, home, and manning to be equal in importance. As women tend to be better at the last two, when they are equal in the first, I would call the woman the better falconer.

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