I didn’t keep the first hawk I ever trapped, but I did take the second. I had waited nearly two years and didn’t see the sense in waiting another minute, let alone another hour to find some other hawk or worse wait for the next weekend. I needed a hawk that very moment and the only reason I turned down the first red-tailed hawk was because it was a male. It was a small tiercel and I was like nearly every other apprentice that ever was. I wanted a great big bone crushing female hawk.
The first bird was trapped on a harnessed pigeon, a pigeon that was retreived without a scratch. I should have kept that bird, the one that couldn’t resist the flapping of wings along the roadside, even though he obviously wasn’t hungry. He was probably a good healthy versatile hawk. He probably would have come around quickly and was probably in no danger of sucummbing to aspergillosis. But I rejected him on the size of his feet and then never gave him a second thought. At least not until now.
I should have kept that hawk. He probably would have been well-mannered and respectful of my size, ignoring the tenderness of my fleshy hands and thinned skinned skull. He probably never would have pinned me to the floor of the mews, muscled a talon through my palm or knocked me in the back of the head when he missed rabbits in the field. I wish I could say it was because I was greedier and stupider when I was younger, but he was just the first in 15 years of knowing what I should do and following my desire instead. I suppose that desire is central to this sport. Still, I should have kept that hawk.
What about you? What was the first hawk you ever trapped?