Well on October 13, 2012 we trapped an 832 gram female juvenile Harris Hawk on Hwy 16 near FM 659 coming out of Zapata heading towards Hebbronville. I think there must be about 12 or so family groups of Harris Hawks in this immediate area. She hit the trap very hog fat and aggressive. Usually on all birds I can detect a bit of a keel, I swear this bird had no keel it felt as hard as an apple. We sprayed her down with mite spray and jessed her up and I got bitten on the finger pretty good for my troubles.
When we got home I logged on and completed the take form. I contacted Megan in Austin and she told me that record numbers of Harris Hawks were being trapped by falconers down in my area. I really was praying for a 900 gram plus bird but I decided to keep this one. While manning the bird she would bate and act stupid like the other redtails I had trained but she was very grippy. She would crank down on the glove relentlessly. Since she was so mean I named her, Elia, after my mother-in-law. We use the waking technique and held her on the fist for almost a straight 22 hours. I know a lot of people don’t do that but we do and we exposed her immediately to the dogs, cats and sights and sounds of being in a house immediately. It took her dropping to 740 grams and almost six days for her to decide to finally jump to the fist. After that things progressed pretty normally except she always acted aggressive at the beginning of every training session. She would spread her wings aggressively; try and wing slap me and/or kick at me. Which the redtails I had trained usually stopped that after the first week. She was just plain mean.
At 740 grams, on the creance she would take her time responding to the fist and one out of every four flights was away from me instead of to the fist. So I slowly brought her weight down and at 690 grams all of that cleared up. She was acting responsive and striking the lure both on the ground and in the air. When just sitting the fist she stopped bating and her aggressive display at the beginning of training sessions stopped.
I didn’t get to start hunting her till November 16th due to work. I had to go out of town on a detail for seven days though I did take her with me and we did jump downs, creance flying and lure training to keep her strong. At 690 I went hunting with my sponsor and his bird and at 690 she hung back and used the t-perch rarely and was non-responsive to the fist. Though my bird and his did go after his ducks thank god for the netting over the pens he keeps his ducks in. He told me to cut back on her weight slowly, hunt her more and do hundreds of jump downs to the fist and t-perch.
Well at 680 grams she seems to have turned into a different bird. Now in the brush she is beginning to stay close to me and is starting to work out ahead of me in the direction I am going. Her response to the fist in the brush is 100% better and she is using the t-perch a lot. I am really happy with her progress. We have had a few nice chases and stoops and I believe she will close the deal soon.