Just English Magazine Articles

Hunting with Eagles

Where do you get an eagle? Do you just go down to the local pet shop? Now here is the rub of the green – you have to catch one! My student, Batbold, described the process to me.
“You need young birds. An adult is really dangerous, hard to catch and difficult to train. So the hunters snatch young birds from a nest or try to lure them away from the nest with pigeons so they can snare them.” I hope Tony the pigeon fancier doesn’t hear about this!
Is it dangerous? “Sure it is. Eagles’ nests are very often high up in inaccessible places and the parents might spot a would-be thief; but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
After catching the young bird, it has to be trained. It is fed meat from the owner’s hand. The meat has been washed so the smell is removed, and this gets the birds used to the scent of humans. When the summer arrives, they are broken in. This process can take a couple of months.
A piece of wood called a tugiris is tied to the feet of the bird and every time it tries to fly it falls and hits the ground. During this period, the eagles are not fed. Eventually the bird is exhausted and ready for training.
With the bird tied to a pole, animal skins are dragged along the floor in front of it, and the instinct to hunt is compounded by hunger. Once the eagle pounces on the skins it is rewarded with fresh meat from its owner’s hand. Gradually they learn to hunt and wait to be fed after a kill, by their owner. Eagles are trained to catch rabbits, small foxes and even wolves.”

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pounce (v) – to jump on suddenly and attack.

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