Rusty At Dusk

Yesterday, while returning from looking at RVs for Diane’s upcoming field season , we stopped at a place that had a small patch of brushy cover around a streambed. It was just past sunset. While we don’t usually like to start hunting Rusty so late, it was either take this opportunity or simply not have her out at all. Diane went to get permission from the property owners, while I got some boots on. Diane indicated that they had said, “Yes”, so I let Rusty out of the van. She popped out and up to the top of the van.

A woman and two young children came over to watch us. As we prepared ourselves, Rusty moved from spot to spot on the van. She may have been looking for an opportunity to steal food, as she had managed to snag a bag of sliced summer sausage from our cooler earlier when I opened it to get a soft drink out. Fortunately, Rusty doesn’t like the taste of summer sausage and Diane was able to retrieve it from her without too much difficulty. Anyway, Rusty was paying attention to our movements in and around the van, which meant that the other people got a nice up-close look at her.

We let Farli, our 12-year-old Vizsla, out of the van. As Farli started to work the small field, Rusty launched off the van and headed for the stream bed. I directed our onlookers’ attention to this, and so they got to see Rusty pitch up, do a wingover, and drop into the streambed. She missed a cottontail there that time, but it was a nice flight.

Rusty had another five flights, connecting with a cottontail on that last one. It was getting pretty dark by that time anyway. I thanked our hosts for letting us hunt there, and answered various questions about Rusty and falconry. Diane had some discussion of things with the children. One of them was a vegetarian, so Diane was explaining that Rusty did not have the option of going vegetarian, that she needed animal prey to survive. That’s probably a tough short lesson to get across. In any case, the people there invited us to come back in the future to let Rusty hunt some more, noting that they have more rabbits and mice than they want around their property.

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.