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Author Topic: Reconnecting with an Old Friend  (Read 1795 times)

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Offline Radar67

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Reconnecting with an Old Friend
« on: September 26, 2009, 06:59:14 PM »
Many years ago, I met a man who has spent the majority of his life working with the Boy Scouts of America. He was know as Ranger Mike to most people. His position was the ranger of Camp Tiak, a Boy Scout Camp, in South MS.

As part of my job with troubled, at risk youth, I became certified as a Director on the Boy Scout COPE Course. For those who don't know, COPE stands for Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience. It is a high ropes adventure course that challenges and humbles many. We used the course to give our kids self esteem, and force them to trust others as they never had before. The kids were responsible for the safety and belay lines of the kids doing the climbing (under strict supervision from us Directors and other staff). I'm getting off course here. Ranger Mike has the only COPE course in South MS, so we partnered with him to be able to take our kids down. They all became members of BSA, even the female platoon we had, and they all donated community service to the camp over the 5 month program we ran. Okay, that's how I met Mike.

Mike was an avid falconeer and was always eager to show off his bird, a red-tailed hawk. He was and is licensed by the Federal Government so everything about him having a hawk is legal. About 8 or 9 years ago, I was privileged to photograph his hawk. Well about 3 weeks ago, another friend brought a pamphlet to me about the MS Pecan Festival, which occured this weekend. As I skimmed the pages about knifemaking, old engines, tractors, farm displays and such, I happened on a picture of a hawk, my picture. The article on the page said Mike would be giving talks and demonstrations on falconeering and birds over the course of the weekend. Well, I just had to go see the birds again.

Mike was giving it his all when I spied him, bird in hand. He was excited to see so many people interested in what he was doing with a hawk. I stood by, listened and took pictures until he had a break, then I approached him. He remembered me like it was yesterday. We had a good talk and then he was back at it again.

So, meet my friend Mike.



And his friend "Hawk".





Having the opportunity to get this close to an animal of this caliber is rare, having a second chance is a blessing. My youngest daughter got the chance to touch this bird and I could tell from her smile that she knew how awesome it was to have that chance. Today was a good day.  :)
"A man's time is the most valuable gift he can give another." TOM

If he can cling to his Blackberry, I can cling to my guns... Me

This will kill you, that will kill you, heck...life will kill you, but you got to live it!

"The man who can comprehend the why, can create the how." SFC J

Offline Fla._Deadheader

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Re: Reconnecting with an Old Friend
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2009, 08:20:22 PM »

 That's pretty neat, Radar.  8) 8)  Good to have your Daughter along, also.  8) 8)
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Offline Dan_Shade

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Re: Reconnecting with an Old Friend
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2009, 08:26:40 PM »
hmm, if I had a friend like that, I would see if I could get away with sticking my finger in the bird's beak.  or seeing if I could get the bird to clamp onto me with both of it's legs.

That's probably why I don't have any friends with a falcon  :D

Actually, I looked into that once, it's pretty crazy how dedicated one has to be to be a falconeer.  After I read up on it in detail, i began to understand why.  To have those birds is pretty much a way of life.
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Offline Radar67

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Re: Reconnecting with an Old Friend
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2009, 08:42:05 PM »
I actually had my whole family along, but my youngest was most interested.

Dan, the birds do take a lot of his time. From his lecture, he captures the bird in the wild at about 5 months old. This is the time when most birds are either going to make it, or not through the winter months. He keeps the bird for about a year and then releases it back to the wild. When ask if this was hard on the bird, he points out that these birds are not capable of forming a bond with him, or knowing love. Their only purpose is to hunt, kill, eat, and reproduce. That is what nature and the good lord programed them to do. He comments that he is only the overseer of the birds to help them through hard times in an otherwise turning point in their lives. He went on to tell of how he releases the birds and that none have ever returned once he removes the leather leg bands used to tether the bird during training and hunting.

He is an awesome speaker. I would love to have him come to the pig roast one year...I'll have to see what he thinks one day. ;)
"A man's time is the most valuable gift he can give another." TOM

If he can cling to his Blackberry, I can cling to my guns... Me

This will kill you, that will kill you, heck...life will kill you, but you got to live it!

"The man who can comprehend the why, can create the how." SFC J

Offline Dan_Shade

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Re: Reconnecting with an Old Friend
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2009, 09:09:07 PM »
hmm, that's interesting.  I thought all birds kept in captivity had to be obtianed from stock captured prior to 1969 (give or take a few years)....

definately cool. 

My understanding is that birds stick around because it's convenient for them since the falconeer feeds them. 

Then again, I think that's how my dog looks at me:  a source for food!
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Offline Radar67

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Re: Reconnecting with an Old Friend
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2009, 10:12:39 PM »
Mike specifically said he was permitted to trap birds from the wild, several different times. You are correct about the feeding. Mike said he gave the birds a nice big meal just before release back to the wild. With a full stomach and no leather bindings, the bird doesn't return. He said he will go out to the area 2 or 3 days in a row and try to get the bird to come back to the whistle and his glove, but it doesn't. He knows then that they are capable to take care of themselves.

He takes the birds out to hunt often. He also stated he would let the bird get down to hunting weight (in other words, they are hungry) before he releases them. When he blows the whistle and holds his gloved hand out, there is always a piece of meat held between the gloved finger and thumb, this is what the bird comes to find when whistled for.

It is a very interesting hobby for those who have the dedication you spoke of earlier Dan.
"A man's time is the most valuable gift he can give another." TOM

If he can cling to his Blackberry, I can cling to my guns... Me

This will kill you, that will kill you, heck...life will kill you, but you got to live it!

"The man who can comprehend the why, can create the how." SFC J

Offline Radar67

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Re: Reconnecting with an Old Friend
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2009, 11:13:14 PM »
I found my original 35mm photo of the first hawk. Here it is from 2000.

"A man's time is the most valuable gift he can give another." TOM

If he can cling to his Blackberry, I can cling to my guns... Me

This will kill you, that will kill you, heck...life will kill you, but you got to live it!

"The man who can comprehend the why, can create the how." SFC J

Offline Don K

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Re: Reconnecting with an Old Friend
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2009, 10:32:59 AM »
When I was much younger I thought it would be neat to have a hunting hawk. I had some friends that were going to a pecan festival yesterday. I don't know if it was in MS or AL.

Don
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Offline Radar67

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Re: Reconnecting with an Old Friend
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2009, 01:16:29 PM »
The Pecan Festival is held the last weekend of September just outside of Richton, MS every year. This is the first year I attended. The pamphlet showed promise on the events, but I was leary to announce it on the event boards here since I wasn't sure. I'll add it on next year's to do list though. They had mule pulls, horse teams were haying, old tractors and hit/miss engines, farm days reenactments where they did what the old timers did, like churning butter. They also had fiddling contests, bluegrass music, dulcimers and free classes for banjo, fiddle, guitar, bass, dulcimer and other instruments, and knifemaking. It was an interesting show, on par with Moultrie, but no where near as big. The arts and crafts section was set up under the pecan trees which made it nice and shady. Several old barns and out buildings filled the orchard. It would be a good place for the Southern Chapter to link up next year.
"A man's time is the most valuable gift he can give another." TOM

If he can cling to his Blackberry, I can cling to my guns... Me

This will kill you, that will kill you, heck...life will kill you, but you got to live it!

"The man who can comprehend the why, can create the how." SFC J

Offline pineywoods

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Re: Reconnecting with an Old Friend
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2009, 01:42:41 PM »
re - hawks and falcons. I have a brother who has been into falconry big time for decades. He tells some interesting stories, like a big hawk mistaking an armadillo for a rabbit. The university of louisiana Monroe has a red-tail hawk for a mascot, trained by little brother.  Chances are, he and Mike know each other.
The pecan festival sounds like a good place to get together, especially the music  and lessons. I would love to learn to play a hammered dulcimer, not many people do. I have one
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