Hawk, Matt, Sawyer, Geese: the Chain of Intimidation

Posted on January 9, 2013

For Christmas, my parents bought me a very nice Nikon D3000 camera, which takes beautiful, hi-res photos. One of the reasons I wanted a camera was to enhance the quality of photos I post to this blog. The hard part is remembering that I have this camera now, and that I don’t have to use my beat up iPhone to capture important moments. There were a few today, and one that will probably never happen again, and all I could think about was how useless a camera is if it’s in a bag at home. That being said, please try to enjoy the content of the following pictures and ignore the quality.

A few months ago, I wrote about a large field near my house where I like to take Sawyer. It’s open, there are usually a few small birds flitting around, and Sawyer doesn’t have to be on a leash, which means he can run himself ragged while I walk slowly along. This field has become our go-to destination recently; we try to make two or three trips a week. Recently, geese have been swarming the northern end of the field in the early morning, and I’ve been trying to get Sawyer there early enough to scare them off. He’ll never need to flush geese, but they’re birds, and Sawyer would think it was fun. This morning, we finally got there in time.

We parked upwind of them, and Sawyer was too excited to notice at first, so we walked the long way around, and came at the flock from downwind. About fifty yards away, Sawyer finally perked up and noticed the birds. He froze up for a beat, then crept forward, constantly looking back at me to see if I would object. I urged him on, he finally broke, charged the birds, and they scattered. He followed them across the field as they flew away, then sped back to me. Totally worth it.

We walked for a while longer, and I threw the frisbee for him to chase, but on one toss, he darted off in another direction and wouldn’t come back. When I went to see what had distracted him, I found him nearly on point, hackles standing erect, watching a large Red-tailed Hawk that had perched on a cattle fence.


And the thing just stared at us. I was no more than ten feet away and Sawyer was within licking distance, and still it held it’s ground. Sawyer barked once or twice, each time retreating immediately afterward. Whenever Sawyer got too close, it would spread it’s wings in warning. I don’t know if it was hurt, or just ballsy, but it sat there placidly while Sawyer shouted threats from afar and I took low quality pictures with my back turned. (The regular lens on my phone is scratched beyond repair, so in order to get photos of any quality at all I need to face away from the subject and shoot over my shoulder.)

Otherwise, they turn out like this.

Otherwise, they turn out like this.

Eventually Sawyer lost interest, and left to explore elsewhere, but I was still amazed. It was rigidly still, not even blinking, and like a small child at a zoo, I wanted it to move. There was no glass to bang on, so instead I laid my last dog treats in a line along the fence to tempt the hawk. He was unimpressed.


As if my pitiful offering had offended it, the hawk took off — his wings made a whoomp sound with each beat — and was gone. I never got a good picture of him. Sawyer and I left, both feeling morally defeated, I think. I left the treats there, because we didn’t deserve them anymore.

– Matt


Posted on January 2, 2013

Did you want to stop reading because of the title? Me too, a little. New Year’s resolutions are garbage, for a few reasons, not least of which is their seeming acceptance (and perhaps expectance) of failure. But they do have a few positives. If they are a viewed as a set of concrete goals, not amorphous ideals then they can be very helpful. I’m of the mindset that “get into shape” will get you nowhere, but if you resolve to “run 400 miles in 2013” then you might have a shot. It’s quantifiable, and it removes all bias. If you run those 400 and still have some extra weight, that doesn’t mean you failed. Finally, I believe that, if used correctly, New Year’s resolutions can underline the importance of constant improvement. They shouldn’t be about what’s wrong with us – so many just sound like whining – but rather ways we can make ourselves better.

And in that light, if I’m setting goals for myself, why not set a few for Sawyer? Some are concrete, while some have undefined boundaries, but you’ll see why. Some are more about me and the blog than Sawyer. They will all, however, make Sawyer and the bond between us stronger. Here they are:

  1. By the end of 2013, this blog will have garnered a total of at least fifty total followers, no less than 2,000 total views, and will have had at least one day with 100 or more views.
    • Thank you for reading, reader. You’re far more than just a number, but again, I’m trying to make these quantifiable.
  2. By the end of 2013 (but hopefully much sooner), Sawyer will be able to stay home alone, with access to the whole house, with no problems. I’m tired of using the rake.
  3. By the end of the year, Sawyer will have stopped jumping up on people and barking out of turn.
  4. Long before the end of the year, Sawyer will be neutered. We’ve put it off long enough. Expect a post about this one.
  5. I will buy this book on how to train a dog to find shed deer antlers, and outline our training here.
    • We’ve never done this before, so I don’t really know how to quantify it. For an added bonus resolution, Sawyer will hopefully actually find a few.
  6. I will buy these DVDs about training pointing dogs, and outline our training here.
  7. Sawyer will have his first unaided point and retrieve.
    • Unaided here means I didn’t have to do much but give the command. I expect him to find the birds on his own, point them, then go pick up the one’s I knock out of the air.
  8. I will take Sawyer on no less than four extended (more than one day) hunting trips.
    • Chukar season doesn’t open until early October, so we’ll have to cram these in at the end of the year.

That last one is a bit of a stretch. For the trips to be more than a day long, they’ll have to be weekend trips, which means they’ll cost significantly more than just driving into the foothills and letting Sawyer go. Also, four weekends is a third of the available weekends in the last quarter of the year, which is also typically a very busy time. But reasonability be damned, we’ll make it happen. Think I’m an idiot? Let me know in the comments.

Happy New Year, everybody.

– Matt

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