Hunting with the Red Tailed Hawk

Portrait Red Tailed Hawk

I stopped hunting many years ago.  I use to like to hunt, but when the places near Morgantown where I use to hunt turned into housing developments and malls and my "hunting" friends moved away I gave it up.  At one time a casual friend asked me to join a hunting club were they going to buy a farm over near Petersburg, WV to hunt on.  I did not do it, but looking back, I wish I had. 

Anyway, I have not hunted in a long time.

My new self photo project is to photograph predator birds.  I've been trying to bait predator birds, sitting in blinds, without having much luck.  

I got on the internet and was making some inquiries about predator birds and where and how to photograph them and I get an e mail wanting to know if I wanted to go rabbit hunting with a Red Tailed Hawk.

Of course, I went on the hunt.  That is what this short blog is about.

Red Tailed Hawk perched in tree looking for prey

Surveying the territory

On this day, the humans beat the brush trying to jump a rabbit and the hawk perched in a tree above us watching for any movement.  Usually a trained dog does the brush beating but he had a day off.  Of course the hawk did not care if it was rabbit, mouse, or snake  that moved  he was just looking for something to eat.

Several time he took off from his perched crashed through the brush and pounced on something.  Sometimes he came up empty, but sometimes he'd come up with a vole.  He would swallow it whole.

Red Tailed Hawk flying through trees

Amazingly he would go crashing into the dense brush like a bulldozer searching for the prey.  It would be so thick he could not fly out of it.  He would have to walk out.

Hawk in the brush looking for prey.

One time he went crashing into the brush and grass and came out holding a snake.The intensity, power, vision and swiftness of the hawk was unbelievable.  What a hunting machine. 

Red Tailed Hawk with snake he caught

  • Flying between limbs heading for the prey
  • Tasty stuff you find in the brush
  • Lunch time

We did jump one rabbit.  It was super quick and exciting when the hawk spotted the rabbit. He took off from his perch and swooped down.  Twenty seconds of unbelievable intense, fast movement as you tried to follow the action. The rabbit sprung away, there was a flurry of grass  movement and everything went still and quiet.  The rabbit was gone and not to be seen.  He must of escaped in a  hole in the ground in the thickets somewhere.  The hawk walked out of the grass and flew back up into the tree waiting for his next meal..

Red Tailed Hawk chasing a rabbit.

  • Flying between limbs heading for the prey
  • Attack
  • Coming in strong in the brush

After the hunt we baited the hawk with feeder mice to get photos of this large bird swooping in with wings spread wide to  quickly and fiercely attack the prey.

Coming in hot

Dramatic kill on the log

Photos of Red Tailed Hawk swooping for the kill

What a magnificent bird ...the Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

Portrait  red Tailed Hawk

A bit different then the hunting I use to do.  Hunting with a Red Tailed Hawk was different but at same time still got the excited feeling one gets being  outdoors and witnessing nature.  Now that I shoot with a camera other than a gun I found it to very satisfying.   

The End