Sunday, September 30, 2007

trapping season tomorrow

Here in CA, trapping season starts 1 October. I haven't trapped in ages since I don't need a new bird, but it's fun to go along with people. For me, trapping flip flops between comedy and psychosis, interspersed with minutes of enormous tension. It's really early in the morning, the ground is slippery, your consciousness is entirely due to caffeine, you have a trap that proves better at catching you than any hawk, you have a bait animal to keep lively. You want a bird real bad, you make a lot of U-turns, and suddenly all your activity must grind to a halt while you're waiting and waiting and waiting for the hawk to decide to check out your trap. You repeat the flurry and the waiting multiple times until you finally have your bird, you hood and secure her for the drive home. And then the real excitement starts.

Far better to watch someone go through this and be the calm advisor.

I have a tattoo now, so to speak. I went hawking this afternoon, caught something, and while I was getting my hands around to dispatch it, P grabbed me in the thumb by accident. You can't wriggle your fingers out of a hawk's grip, because to them wriggle means struggle, which means grip tighter. You can only hold still and rotate everything so the hawk is forced to move his feet. Well, in the process of rotating, I moved my thumb, causing him to dig in nice and deep. Fortunately, this only lasted about 15 seconds.

When I recovered my thumb I saw a bit of feather hanging out of it. Apparently a feather of the quarry was between me and the talon, and a single vane got driven into my thumb. It's too delicate to remove with tweezers -- all the exposed part just breaks off -- so for the moment I am part bird.

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