Trapping Season

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ROM_Spike_Moon



Name?

Spike


Falconer?

Tim Jessell


Species?

Gyr/Peale's bred by Kenny Sterner


Sex?

Tiercel


Hunting weight?

30.5 - 31.5 oz (879 g)


Age?

Hatch 2001, flown hard on game since and still going at 17. He is now being flown on grouse and pheasant by Jonathan Wilde


Wild trapped, or captive bred?

Captive bred imprint.  He was pulled at around 18 days old. 


Trapping story, or info about acquisition?

Doug Steele had him first. I had an order in w/ Kenny for a brother bird the next year. Doug had some other things going on his life and mentioned to me he might sell him (Spike had been flown one day only in a tame hack). I knew the odds of an imprint being quieter where increased if the imprint changes hands from it’s “eyrie”, also he was young enough to still be “mine” for good or bad, and that he was specimen didn’t hurt. My wife liked the idea of a grown imprint vs all the down and hawk crap from a young one. So, she encouraged me to purchase Spike from Doug. Labor day Spike was mine


Training?

Remember about no tame hack? Well, he got one (as Oscar put it back in the day):

My first kite session w/ him, I thought "no problem”. But Spike didn’t like the setup. I foolishly only had a micro transmitter on at the time, and lost the signal twice, as he beelined north. I found him 20 miles from where we started, sitting in the open prairie. This was his 3rd flight ever.  After that, fortunately, he was a machine to the kite, no matter the wind. His first serve was a pigeon he killed from approx. 1000 feet (flying the kite). But immediately after that, he then developed a very wandering eye (this is where his tame hack came in). I would chase him many miles as he blew off the kite. He would never land but just fly. One day chasing him, I saw Spike flying across the middle of Sooner Lake, chasing gulls, wing tip to wing tip. I had to get in front of him/cut him off in all chases. I would swing the lure and he would come right in. This was usually 20 miles. Yes, 20 miles. We’d both be tired, so I’d lick my wounds and go home. One day I had enough, pimped him on the lure when I found him, and took him back to the kite, w/ a “You are eating from the kite today, Bub!”. I lowered it to 800 feet and unhooded him. He was gassed, but he got the bait. From that day forward he stopped his own tame hack, just like that.


Hunting style?

I apologize for length - but I had this bird for along time ;)

As we started hawking - I took my time w/ Spike’s kite training, as I was also flying the white warrior hybrid “Cosmo" (hard hitting 28.5 oz demon imprint) - it wasn’t till late Dec. we started getting serious. It wasn’t long before Spike was flying much higher than I even trained him at. His naiveté was an asset. I could fly a pair of mallards on a literal puddle and he would go very, very high. It was impressive. I already knew kiting was a great proactive tool, but I was really cashing in w/ this bird.

We then switched to prairie chickens. It wasn’t long before he learned to love them and started catching them - this went on for 14 or 15 seasons. Spike’s style was to take a commanding pitch just upwind (on so-so days, 600-700 feet - on his good days 1000 feet, sometimes higher), and drive through the grouse, right between the shoulder blades (you would see both grouse wings pop up), often killing them on the spot. He wanted nothing to do w/ binding. Spike wanted to drop the hammer and he did (on ducks too).  Yet he never seem to injure himself doing so…… His crazy injuries came other ways. Spike has 9 lives:

Visiting family in Indiana over Christmas, I kept Spike in form by throwing bagged pheasants. One day during a quiet snowfall, he wanted to land w/ his quarry on the less snow on the country road (cars were not out due to weather) and he was big and strong enough to do it. I was making my way to him, when I heard a car coming. I started running as fast as I could through the snow, yelling and waving. I watch this bastard line up his Ford Mustang right at Spike and run over him on purpose! I see Spike come tumbling out the backside, literally screaming from pain, as the car drove on. I picked him up and was thinking what an inglorious way for this young bird to go out. After a while though he could stand on the car perch. While driving back, I expected him to fall dead at any moment... he did not. He eventually made a full recovery, w/ no signs of broken bones or anything. One eye was filled w/ blood.

Another time I was hawking greater prairie chickens w/ Dr. Dave Eslicker. The chickens flushed prematurely ($#@*!) and Spike went off in hot pursuit. It unfortunately took too long to get to him through the ranch. When we came upon him, I see a gang of redtails. One leaps to the air w/ Spike in her feet. Spike was dropped like a frozen football. Again, looks like he's a goner. I scoop him up and we had back to Dave’s truck. Later, Dave admits that at that point he thinks Spike will be dead before we can even get back to the truck. But miraculously, I see life in his eyes, and say to Dave, “He might make it?”. We get back to Dave’s house and the doc immediately gets an IV going into a vein in Spike’s leg. He also has some steroids he injects, as I recall. Anyway, hawking with a doctor has it’s advantages, needless to say. Spike again survives.  He also survived a anvil stoop from an eagle while on a duck (dodged at the last second), and lived to brag that he did a stare down w/ no less than 5 bald eagles (4 surrounding him, one flapping above him). When I got to him, I could not believe he was not pile of feathers. Spike's also been grabbed in the head twice by redtails, piercing his eye to were it looked like a dried grape, and both times the eye fully healed, as far as I know?  Cue Alice N’ Chain’s “The Rooster”. They come for him, but they can’t kill him.

Anyway, back to the hawking. Spike was obviously a “chicken hawk” w/ his size, power, and speed. We took several grouse trips where he did not miss a chance to score - makes for a good trip. He was a treasure to own and fly - but I might be most proud of the ongoing effort to keep his style on ducks up to par. A bird like him can obviously overtake ducks w/out much pitch. He knew and I knew it. We were far from perfect, but w/ enough discipline, Spike stayed in good style into his old age on ducks. He spent his last years often hawking ducks w/ Mitch Wishon and I (the 2 members of the OK Tiercel Peregrine Club) and more than once Mitch would utter, “Old man Spike out flew both our peregrines today”. That was saying something w/ Mitch’s Clyde (passage peregrine) or my “Bolt” or “Blue” (imprint tiercel peales).


Preferred habitat?

Nebraska.


Typical quarry?

Ducks, grouse, pheasants ( Spike caught some Huns when we went to Alberta, Canada). He was never flown on sage grouse.


Favorite quarry to hawk, and why?

My personal favorite is the Hungarian Partridge or Hun (though big Spike was bit overmatched for them). They can thrive among modern agriculture. They don’t fly far when bumped and in Canada they seemed to like to land in the middle of empty harvested wheat (uhh pretty damn good set up). Huns don’t act like pheasants (snakes w/ legs)They seem to be the perfect quarry for the tiercel peregrine - Flights are not as far flung or potentially dangerous as hawking grouse - and when their numbers are good - quality slips are much easier to come by than w/ grouse. It’s a crying shame we don’t have them here.


Bird's favorite quarry to hawk?

Grouse. The first huns he saw flushed under him, Spike wouldn’t even stoop (twice) - thought they were meadow larks (which, thankfully, he never showed an interest in in OK - as they can ruin many a flight as we know). 3rd covey he sucked the hun up like candy.


Description of the most memorable season?

They tend to run together w/ that many seasons. In his last season w/ me, on Christmas eve afternoon he took a very high pitch, and ended up taking a mallard about half a mile away, out in the middle of the prairie. I got to see the whole big giant stoop. Needless to say, that was a long run to get to him. Great memory and a reminder that Spike still had some “magic” in him.


Favorite hawking story?

Might be the funniest at least:

That would be when Matthew Kirkwood and I went out west for early teal season. Matt was flying his young female peregrine. The teal were being teal and flying from pond to pond at the precise moment to avoid capture. I said to Matt, if you want that duck, you better go swimming. He strips down to his tighty whities and goes in. Meanwhile, a gentleman pulls up in his van and asks, “What’s goin’ on?”  I tell him, “We're are chasing ducks w/a falcon (Matt is out of sight)."  He gets out, curious, but quickly it's obvious he just wants to chat. So he’s telling me about something, and from behind the dyke, here comes Kirkwood in now very brown and soaked underwear, sprinting across the dirt road, heading for the other pond - quite the sight. The guy totally “dead pans-it”, never lifts his elbow from leaning on the van, and just slowly turns his head (Jack Benny style), watching Kirkwood disappear behind the other dyke, and proceeds to go back to casually telling his story. Zero reaction.

Incredibly damn funny at the absurdity of the sight that was just happening.  He probably went home and told his wife w/ a< “Guess what I saw today?” in a non plussed manor. ;)


Bird's favorite quote?

"If you want this duck, dragon(eagle), you gotta come straight through me to get it…"


Bird's favorite falconry video?

Spike's brothers:


(Clip taken from Matthew Huston's film Look Up & Wave Your Glove)


Anything else?

I think this feature is a great idea. I’ve really enjoyed reading the others. I hope Spike’s adventures have added to it.





ROM_Spike_Molly

Spike and my youngest daughter Molly are roughly the same age



ROM_Spike_First_Chicken
Spike’s first chicken



ROM_Spike_Nebraska_Chicken

Nebraska Chicken



ROM_Spike_Summers
Cold day, full crop from a chicken killed dead in the stoop, w/ Rob Summers



ROM_Spike_Eslicker
Good day hawking lesser prairie chickens in Kansas with Dave Eslicker



ROM_Spike_Taking_Off




ROM_Spike_Banking









 
 

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