Goshawk

This will be one illo by Eldridge Hardie from a new collection of the works of North Dakota poet and hunter Tim Murphy. He and El gave it to me! I have been a fan of Eldridge’s work for at least as long as the old Gray’s that we both worked at existed. I brought a copy of the late Datus Proper’s Pheasants of the Mind, among my favorites of both their works, and was pleased to hear, in our too- short Denver visit, that he had also hunted with Datus. They met in Arizona for quail; Datus and I used to out of Bozeman for quick day trips after Gray partridge…

Chukar Hunting the Old Way

My long- time Canadian hunting correspondent, Alex Sharif, who I met through Valerius Geist, is primarily a sheep hunter and a mountaineer. But when he sent me a few photos from his cousin Afshin in Idaho,I was intrigued. Afshin is a Goshawker, and he hunts Chukar in the kind of country they have always inhabited, in Central Asia, where everything is vertical He put us in touch, and Afshin sent me this exciting portfolio,as well as a couple of short YouTubes that show his young Elhew pointer and the difficulties of hunting that terrain- watch the bird plunge into the abysss.

Zhinoo points



The proud falconer (technicaly of course, “austringer”) with Tooran- two hawk’s profiles!

Apache

Paul has his old NM Gos back, a bird who might  have been his best. He has descendants, with Finnish genes, and if all goes well I may yet fly one.

Accipiter gentilis apache may or may or may not be a valid taxon, but Gila Goshawks are distinctive. First I ever saw was in the late 70’s, when rancher John showed me one he had caugh and tamed after it had killed a number of his game fowl. The story is in Q- the – book.

Black, silver, garnet red…

Birdage

Pigeons and Accips, of course…

From Ava, who breeds from some of my best stock; first, a pic in defiance of the Islamic “State”, aka the Desert Plague, and its deranged fear of pigeon genitalia:

And an even better photo of her with a favorite, a dark blue chequered “New Mexico Rafeno” of my breeding.

Paul’s new Gos baby has an unusual heritage: half New Mexican, from the best Gos Paul ever flew, and half the ever more popular Finnish subspecies. He already has a lot of character.

Helen Rockstar!

Randy Davis wrote me today to tell me about a signing for Tom McGuane’s new book– I will delay getting it until I can get an inscribed one in Denver. He was at the Strand with Tom Brokaw.

“My oldest son went to see/hear the McGuane – Brokaw show at  Strand  Books in Manhattan.  Late in the session there was the usual question about what are you reading now, McGuane answered  and I’m paraphrasing, a lovely book that I thought had no commercial prospects, but has proven otherwise: H for Hawk.”

Otherwise indeed! Two big time British literary awards for a personal memoir with falconry is unusual. But I am not sure anyone I ever knew has had as meteoric a rise as Pluvialis in the US…

Partisan? You bet! But consider: this past week she had TWO NYT rave reviews , one Wall Street Journal, one Atlantic, one “Daily Beast”, a long article about her with a photo in the New Yorker, and an NPR interview on Wednesday in which she quoted me– on my birthday! A fine present for my slightly scary 65th…

So in her honor, from her blog Fretmarks, a 2006 description of a Gos in the riparian forest on the Syrdarya in Uzbekistan. You may want to go out and get H is for Hawk when you finish.

“Just near here, I looked up and thought I saw a man standing in a tree.
That’s what my brain told me, momentarily. A man in a long overcoat
leaning slightly to one side.

“And then I saw it wasn’t a man, but a goshawk.

“Moments like this are very illuminating. I’d never thought before, much,
about the actual phenomenology of human-hawk resemblance, the one that
must have brought forth all those mythological hawk-human bonds I’ve
studied for so long.

“I looked at a hawk in a tree, but I saw a man. How curious.

“This goshawk must have been eighty feet away, so dark against the bright
morning sun, so I couldn’t see whether he was facing me or the river.
His short head and snaky neck craned: he was looking at me.

“I raised my binoculars to my eyes as slowly as I could, half-closing my
eyes so my lashes fringed the glare. There. There he was. The glare
wasn’t so bad. I could see his edges very clearly. The light was very
bright. But I could also faintly see the horizontal barring on his chest
feathers. This was an adult male goshawk, and he looked very different
from the ones at home. He reminded me of old photographs of goshawks
flown by falconers on the northwest frontier. Hell, he was
one of these goshawks. He had a dark, dark head with a flaring pale
eyebrow, and the bars on his chest were close-set and far from the hazy,
broken lines of European birds. Imagine tracing—with a ruler—each
horizontal line of a narrow-ruled notebook with a thick, dark-grey
felt-tip pen. That’s what his front looked like, through the glare. And
he was standing on a bare branch and making up his mind what I was,
exactly, and what he should do about it.

“Slowly, he unfolded his wings, as if putting on a coat, and then, rather
quietly and leisurely, he took to the air, one long leg and
loosely-clenched foot trailing as he went. I was astonished by how
long-winged he was, and how much he looked like a big — albeit
long-tailed — falcon. His shape was very different from the goshawks at
home. He was a migrant gos; he’d travelled down mountains and across the
plains to winter here.

“Happy Pluvialis! I wandered back to camp, had a snooze, compared bird
notes, smoked a cigarette and had a cup of coffee. Halimjan made soup
for lunch; there it was, bubbling in the cast-iron pot over the gas
flame and we were sitting around our red plastic table chewing on stale
bread waiting for the soup, and all our heads went up at once. A noise
like ripping, tearing hessian, like a European Jay, only with real
terror in it, was coming towards us right there
and we watched — and slow as syrup and fast as a blink all at once,
came the male gos trying his damnest to catch a magpie; they flashed
right through the trees in front of the table, and gos nearly had a foot
to the magpie before he saw us — five humans and a fire and a truck and
a Giant Red Table right below
him — ack! — wave off! wave off! — and the magpie dove downwards to the
fork of a branch, crouching like a man avoiding a blow, and the gos
spooled away through the trees. He looked like a coin falling through
water, flashing silver and grey. Some kind of metal. A very fierce one.
Potassium, Sodium, Goshawk.”

T H White Memorial

I am an unabashed fan of Terence Hanbury White; whatever his personal faults and agonies, he left a legacy of good books about things that interest me and my friends– probably all naturalists and writers on country matters and falconers who understand honesty. If he had written just the Arthurian trilogy and The Goshawk he would be remembered; as it is, though he is the only writer I formally collect, I am still missing two of his many (what?– you think I am going to the library to count?) books, despite three decades of searching.

Falconer- biologist Stacia Novy, who has appeared here before, found out that there is no memorial to White, neither in England where he is temporarily forgotten, in Greece where he died on a cruise, or in the US where he is dimly seen as someone who inspired a hit musical (Camelot) and a children’s cartoon (The Sword in the Stone, a miserably Disney- fied version of what may just be one of my favorite books of all time).
Stacia:

Stacia knew I had done some White research in his papers at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin with Helen Macdonald, whose forthcoming book on training a Gos and reading White, H is for Hawk , should be on the must- read list for all Q- Philes.

So she recruited me and the young English nature writer Conor Jameson, whose recent book Looking for the Goshawk is worth ordering on English Amazon without waiting for a US edition, to make a case for White.

So we did, in the Journal of the North American Falconer’s Association. Unfortunately it is at least right now not available to non- members– I may publish it here later, as it is not long. Stacia has persuaded the Peregrine Fund to make a memorial for him at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, a place any raptor- phile must visit, if we can come up with the relatively reasonable sum. If you have been delighted or moved or even irritated by White and Gos and The Wart, consider contributing a few dollars. The pages below, annotated by Stacia, will show you how– right or double click to enlarge. Remember, this is just HOW– you must go to their site first! She adds these instructions:

1.  Type this link into the browser:      https://my.peregrinefund.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=352

2.  The online form will appear on screen; it will look exactly like the attached screenshots (top and bottom)

3.  Do NOT press the big, red, round button at the top

4.  Monetary Donations must be in US Dollars

5.  Fill in the yellow highlighted areas of the Donation Form Top

6.  Select item(s) indicated in the drop-down menu(s)

7.  If the Address menu does NOT have the state or foreign country listed, select “N/A”

8.  Fill in e-mail address to receive an automatic donation receipt

9.  Fill in the yellow highlighted areas of the Donation Form Bottom

10.  Fill in applicable credit card information

11.   Fill in Tribute Information as shown: “Terence Hanbury White”

12.  Click the square “Donate Now” at the bottom of the screen

13.  An e-mail confirmation will be sent as a record of donation

1911 with Gos

.45 Auto Colt 1927 Argentine, not to be confused with the Baliester Molina which was not a 1911, not designed by John Moses Browning, and not approved by Colt. This one has only the modern additions which actually contribute to function. It has a nicely worn finish, a good trigger, and is tight as a new gun for accuracy, but feeds all ammo effortlessly, from military ball to Hydra- shocks. New grips scrimshawed to Japanese Goshawk design, custom work by Hogue Grips. Special thanks to Rosalie Joyce there for her help.

Gos Grips

It may be relevant to my quandary below that the bird I put on my stationery (must scan– it is not a jpeg), western belt buckle, and autopistols has always been a Goshawk, designed from  from Japanese art.

I have had this:

And, on a Commander frame, this:

The artist who did the scrimshaw above was no longer working when I discovered that, contrary to what I had thought, I could still work the slide on a 1911– but only on full- sized guns, the way John Moses Browning designed them. Small frame guns needed stronger springs which, with arthritis and Parkinson’s, I found difficult, so I sold them all. Since I have always felt deprived if I didn’t have a .45 auto, I decided I would get another, a big one, but the deal is still a little down the road. Meanwhile, I looked around and found that Hogue Grips, while making more commercial grips than anyone, also did scrimshaw. With trepidation, I asked Rosalie, my contact, if they could do a Japanese Goshawk. She in turn asked me for an original image, and got back to me in about a week with the slightly stylized version below for approval. It was PERFECT,  catching the character of the legendary North- of- the- Waste- White, better known to us as the Kamchatka and east Siberian subspecies of the Gos, Accipiter gentilis albidus. She then quoted me a ridiculously low price, and cautioned me it might take ten weeks. That was three weeks ago, and I already have the grips, and love them.

Now I need a 1911, probably either a Colt I can improve on (but which is expensive) or  Springfield like the gun in the ad below. Ad? Well, with no .45 at hand, when I noticed the ad said “Actual Size”, I just dropped the grips onto the paper for your appreciation. The screw holes were in the right place