By Katherine Grand
The day began with no foreshadowing of events to come; normal as things get here at Prois. The morning started with Joni and Kirstie ruthlessly chiding me about my unorganized desk and the fact that I had no leg room under my desk as I was storing things there. I texted Kirstie a very unattractive picture of me flipping her off as she would not come over and look at my legs fitting comfortably under my desk. Needless to say said photo ended up on facebook.
I was saved by the bell when one of my dealers called with some questions and Joni and Kirstie continued to cackle loudly while I diligently worked. Out of nowhere I looked over and a dying mouse was convulsing next to my chair. I exclaimed “Oh my God, hold on a second” and immediately put my dealer on hold. While I regained my composure Joni kindly scooped up the dying mouse and deposited it outside. The cackling increased exponentially as Joni and Kirstie discussed how there were mice living under my desk. The timing was impeccable for an animal to crawl out and die next to me.
While feeling thoroughly weird about the random dying mouse, my husband appeared in the office to accompany me on a hunt with Aurora our red-tailed hawk and our dogs Lucky and Sadie. I was sure hunting would make me feel better. Eric and I started hunting and Aurora was following us well and chasing each rabbit we flushed. While hunting an immature golden eagle suddenly flew less than 10 feet over Aurora which sent me screaming and waving my arms wildly to scare it off. Golden eagles will kill and eat other birds of prey when they see an opportunity and many falconers have lost their birds to goldens. The golden continued out of the valley but our dog Sadie is old and was having trouble with the icy, punchy snow so I suggested Eric to take her back to the truck. The timing couldn’t have been worse. While he was gone, I continued to try to flush bunnies when suddenly Aurora made a spectacular dive and loudly crashed into some brush in a ditch below me. I excitedly ran to where I saw her disappear and found her holding a rabbit and she and the rabbit were totally tangled in the brush. I stretched the bunny to break its neck and in the excitement of untangling Aurora and her rabbit from the brush she grabbed a hold of my right index finger and sunk her talons into my flesh. She was super amped up from catching the rabbit and was not going to let go. The more I tried to pry her off the tighter her grip became. The pain was intense and I knew that I would need Eric the pry her front and back toes off at the same time which is almost impossible to do one handed. The other option was to wait until she relaxed which I have had to do in the past while hunting alone. However, Aurora is one of the strongest birds I have worked with and the pain was excruciating. Oh the mayhem! I started screaming for Eric and he heard me as her rounded the corner in our truck with the windows up. I must have been pretty loud. I was crying by the time her found me and he pried her talons off my finger, one of which was sunk in over a half an inch right into my joint. I calmed down and gave Aurora a feast on her bunny. She quickly forgot the incident and dug into her prize.
On the drive back home I realized I was due for my tetanus shot and was concerned over the location of the deepest puncture wound which quickly sealed up trapping in all the awesome bacteria and gore from Aurora’s talons that had just been sunk in the rabbit. Upon returning to the office CEO Kirstie Pike and certified award winning nurse told me I should go into the doctor because I did not want an infected joint. When I called to make an appointment and the nurses asked me what had happened, it took me a while to explain the circumstances of my injury. When I arrived at the office the nurses were asking me a million questions and treating me like I was some sort of newly discovered 2 headed creature. Apparently being home to the oldest consecutive rodeo in the Colorado, they have lots of experience with bull horn injuries but this was their first talon maiming. After listening to some awful cat bite stories about people that ended up filleted open (he definitely used the word filleted) I was prescribed a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately there is little literature about the bacteria common to a hawk’s talons so I received the cat bite meds, my tetanus shot, and was ordered to return in two days.
I returned back to the office and retold the harrowing tales of my day to Kirstie, Joni, and Shonda who has since arrived. It was a thoroughly traumatic and memorable day but I learned some good lessons about the importance of office cleanliness and I now bring an extra leather glove and pruning shears to cut my hawk out of the crazy tangles of brush she crashes into after rabbits. This suggestion came from another lady falconer,Laura Culley. Also I learned not text your boss pictures you do not want to end up on facebook if you happen to work for Kirstie Pike. Thanks Kirstie Pike for putting up with me going on lunch hunts and the subsequent doctor’s visits that are sometimes required.