You’ll Put An Eye Out With That, Kid
This quote was the first thing I thought of when I saw the feathers and the hawk in the tree. “You’ll Put An Eye Out With That, Kid.” I had to get rid of the hawk how had just turned one of my chickens into a pile of pillow stuffing. So I went into the house and retrieved the Daisy BB Gun I purchased in 2015 as a “farm weapon”.
The Text Message
I received a text from my niece who was tending to the livestock this morning as I am in bed sick. She’s let the birds out to get some air and free range a bit. We’ve never had a problem in the past. But there is a first time for everything, I guess. This was not was I was expecting today.
We lost a chicken to a hawk today, I was watching them and went upstairs to fix my shoe. A hawk came down and took one of the gold buffs. I feel bad for the girl. :/ she was a sweetheart.
The Proper Use of the Right Tool
Coming downstairs, I grabbed the BB Gun. To be clear, this is a wildly underpowered weapon to use on a farm; but it is a terrific way to scare hawks out of your tree. I had no intention of hurting the hawk for following its instincts. It is part of this ecosystem and a necessary one at that. But it must not prey on my chickens. So I needed to set a precedent here. The BB Gun was the perfect tool.
I held the slight toy weapon and it’s ball bearing ammo in my hands thinking of Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”. Usually the BB gun lives on the weapons rack at Mezzacello alongside the machete, hunting knives, hatchet, and the 1400 PSI air rifle. Today it was primetime.
I loaded a BB into the barrel and cocked the weapon and set the safety. I then went outside and again, thinking about Ralphie, I tested my aim on a tin can. Ping! Bingo! All the while this hawk is looking down at me from the tree. Then I chose a location with a clean line of sight in my front yard.
I loaded another ball bearing and took aim. Squeezing the trigger, aiming at the branch and the hawk jumped in surprise and flew off. Mission accomplished, #MischiefManaged. The raptor was not injured just startled and scared away. It was then that I considered how it must look for a grown man to be walking around in his yard with a toy rifle.
A Word on Cultural Sensitivity
I remembered the chaos of 2020 and how the idea of walking around with a weapon was crazy. I want to be culturally appropriate and not mock anyone. I needed a tool to discourage a predator and I chose the appropriate tool. I choose a tool for effectiveness, and dignity.
Believe it or not, this the first instance I have seen of one of the downtown hawks attacking my chickens. I’ve seen them prey on wild rabbits in the yard (not mine) and occasionally feral cats. But not my animals.
The best I can think is that my time was up and the mild winter is altering predatory patterns. So I will limit free range in the near future. Sustainability requires respect and defense.