Wisdom of the Eagle Masters
In central Asia, the area around the lake of Issyk Kul is known for its hunters with falcons and golden eagles. The Kyrgyz, Kazakh, and Mongol traditions date back 900 years to the time of the Mongol invasion in the area. Hunting with one of nature’s most formidable birds of prey – the golden eagle.
The primal culture of hunting is practiced the world round while hunting with birds of prey is not only more challenging but it also offers a glimpse to another time.
This style of hunting is a difficult sport, as it takes three to four years to teach a bird to hunt.
The hunter has to keep his bird on a stretched arm.
The bird must always be taught by the same man, and that man should be with the bird at all times, in order to get the bird used to the voice of the “berkuchi” – its master, its friend, and teacher.
Both falcon and golden eagle attack and kill their prey instantly, breaking its neck or spine and leaving only barely visible marks on the fur of the prey, so the fur and skin are left practically intact.
The prey of falcons could be small rodents, rabbits, and foxes, but for such a powerful bird as the golden eagle, it could be bobcats, roe deer, and even young wolves stranded in deep snow in winter.
Hunting season usually starts at the end of October or beginning of November and lasts for four months.
The Golden Eagle
A superb hunter the golden eagle possesses lethal talons that can carry animals as large as foxes effortlessly into the air. Examples of their still larger prey include deer, lambs and young goats but these are usually not slain by the eagle but eaten as carrion.
Domestic animals such as dogs are not excluded from the skilled hunter’s talons.
They possess incredibly keen eyesight and are easily able to scan far enough to spot a rabbit, lizard, or mouse two kilometers away. Their hearing is also excellent because they need to be able to hear the cries of their young when they are flying some distance away from the chicks.
The golden eagle has over 2,000 feathers, from small, downy ones for keeping the bird warm when it’s riding the often freezing thermals to large broad flight feathers. They take immaculate care of them, preening meticulously. Considering that they have a wing span of up to two meters this is not a task to underestimate.
Their mating habits are amazing because they dance in the air, enticing each other by soaring, swooping, chasing and diving until eventually they lock talons and spiral down to earth.
It is not difficult to understand why numbers are dwindling when it is considered that each pair of golden eagles requires 3,000 acres of land for their hunting territory. As man demands more land for himself terrain is spoiled for hunters like the eagle.
In a nearby woodland area I sometimes see an eagle, wings spread out, gliding on the fresh breezes. As its piercing cries conjure up bygone times when our ancestors were forest dwellers peaceably co-existing with these wondrous feathered creatures my heart is wrenched with sorrow that in the future we might cause their extinction.
Yet they are not considered to be under threat of it currently and the golden eagle has soared back from near extinction in certain parts of the world. There is still time for us all to respect the environment that we share with them so that we all may survive for many years to come.
To witness the art of hunting with golden eagles, check out our “Local Golden Eagle Festival Tour” as well as the “Golden Eagle Festival Tour“. Both tours offer you priceless opportunities with eagle master, one more local and the other much more crowded and touristy.