On one of a number of hunting trips, I took my camera along to try and capture a few shots of an amazing experience




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Ferrets are essential on a hunting trip with hawks. The ferrets are used to chase out rabbits holed up under the ground. Ferrets love rabbits, but the rabbits are not so keen on the ferrets and leave their holes rapidly when one of our furry friends gets near. I had the dubious honour of managing these animals on the trip, and also being the first person to be bitten by these particular ferrets.
This dog is amazing. It sniffs out rabbits wherever they hide. No matter how rough the terrain, this dog loves it. Through dense spiny bushes and ditches filled with ice cold water, it makes no difference "Anjing", actually catches rabbits and hares himself before the bird has a chance to get there.
Here are the birds then. First Annettes'. This one is a young inexperienced hawk. On the day, he weighed a little too much and was not very interested in catching anything. After a while he flew off after a pheasant and Hans had to go after him with the radar tracker.
This Hawk belongs to Hans. This bird is a little older (and bigger) and was very hungry. If I remember correctly, he caught 5 rabbits on the trip. Annettes' hawk would fly after a rabbit, wherever it went. Even through a wire fence if neccesary. Hans' hawk first watched the rabbit and then decided how to catch it with as little fuss as possible.
The first time I went hunting with Hans and Annette, it was awesome. Early in the morning, very quiet, and then the hawks start calling to each other. It is a noise that tingles your spine. A piercing eery call that must terrify the rabbits. I thought it was pretty imposing too, especially when the hawk looks you straight in the eyes with his angry "glare"
When a hawk catches a rabbit, the rabbit sometimes squirms for a couple of seconds before finally giving in to the power of the hawks grip. A mature rabbit is too heavy for the hawk to fly off with, so it looks around to see if there is any danger in the area before commencing its meal.
To get an idea of the power with which the hawk grasps its prey, look at this photo. The hawk will just hang on and has to be manhandled off the rabbit. As a reward, the hawk is allowed to have a mouthfull of fresh rabbit meat before being "removed" from its catch.
This is me holding the large hawk while Hans took a break. Although the hawk only weighs about 1000g, it does get a bit heavy after a bit. You can also feel the grip of its impressive talons crushing through the thick leather glove. Im glad it wasn't angry!
This photo doesn't look that dramatic, but the hawk had just flown out of the trees that you can see in the background and landed on the pidgeon wing that Hans had in his hand. I took the photo just as the hawk was about to land. On its way to Hans, it flew just over Anjing who cowered on the ground to avoid it.
After a days hunting, the dogs are worn out and get a deserved rest in the back of the van. All in all, this was an amazing experience. Looking at the photos or reading the text doesn't tell the story or give you any idea how amazing it really is. If you ever get the chance to watch a spectacle of this kind, do it - you will never forget it.