Meet Ruby! Ruby is a South Georgia Red Tailed Hawk. She was our hunting partner today as Reid and I got to experience a little squirrel hunting fun raptor style!!
Bill from the Hump Day crowd has a brother named Bob. Bob is retired and has recently taken up a new hobby. Apparently all you have to do in the state of Georgia is take a class to be certified to own a fine feathered hunting partner. They take it pretty seriously though as Bob had to join an organization and have his habitat approved before they would issue him a licence. Once he had a licence all he needed was a bird. Now you don't just go by your local pet shop and pick up a bird of prey, you have to go out and catch your own. Bob rode around for a while until he spotted a lone hawk sitting on the edge of a field on the side of the road. He set up his snare trap with two mice and moved a safe distance away. The hawk sailed down within a matter of minutes and was caught in the snare. The bird is unharmed during the process. Ruby now has a new home and has been extremely spoiled for the last month. She is very mild mannered and loves to be stroked on top of her head. Bob tails me that the good thing about Red Tailed Hawks is that they are easily trained and should be able to hunt freely within 4 to 6 weeks. Today was Ruby's first free hunt.
Reid and I have been shooting squirrels for Ruby for the past couple of weeks. Bob feeds them to her once a week. The idea is to make sure that the squirrel becomes Ruby's favorite food. She did not get a squirrel this week and should be getting hungry, therefore she should want to hunt. We took Ruby to a local pecan orchard where we spotted a few squirrels right off the bat. Bob took Ruby close to one of the trees and when he thought that Ruby had a fix on one of the fury little critters, he let her go. Up in the tree she went. We just knew we were about to witness something very cool. Ruby bounced to a couple of trees until she decided to settle in one place and just sit there. And sit, and sit, and sit. I guess Ruby was not quite ready to hunt. All of Bob's material that he has studied has given him a lot of patience with this bird. He understands that it takes time to effectively train Ruby. I can not say the same thing for Reid. He wanted to see some action. We waited for almost an hour and we started to wonder if Ruby was ever going to come back to us or just fly off into the wild blue yonder. Upon Bob's request, Reid and I loaded up to go hunt for a squirrel for Ruby so that we could get her down from the tree.
It only took me about 5 minutes before I was back with a squirrel for Ruby. Bob tied the squirrel to the end of a line and took it into the orchard with him. He called to Ruby and began to pull the squirrel on the line. That was all it took. That big hawk dove out of that tree in a split second and hit the squirrel with both talons. Bob then secured Ruby to a leader and let her enjoy her dinner. Reid was amazed as he watched her eat. All I could think about was how much fun this was going to be once Ruby figures this whole thing out.
I had planned to go deer hunting this afternoon but we were having a lot of fun watching Ruby and I could tell that Reid was having a good time. It didn't hurt me none that I missed an afternoon in the stand. Besides, I was still hunting! Just Raptor Style!!