Predator Report: The Scourge of Raptor

July 11th, 2017
Calcium, NY

At the risk of overblogging (is that a word?) about chickens, I felt I needed to report to you, dear readers, about the latest predation on my small flock of hens.  A red-tailed hawk has moved into the neighborhood.

(Photo stolen shamelessly from the Internet.)

I’ve seen this hawk around from time to time for months, and occasionally associated it with my hens sounded their alarm squawk, but lately it has been around all the time.  Daily for the last week, and every morning and evening for the last 4-5 days.  It has killed two of my hens and attacked a third.  Saturday evening it killed a hen.  Sunday night I got home from Reserve drill and it was sitting in a tree 30′ from the run, watching the hens so safely ensconced in their run.  Monday morning it was lurking nearby.

So Monday after work I bought the cheapest, crappiest, most pathetic single-shot .410 I could find.  $99 at Wally World.  A fine piece of craftsmanship this is not, but I have quite a few guns in California and did not want to take the time to search for something nice.  Cheap was the goal, and the goal was achieved.

I no sooner got home, changed clothes and went to let the hens out than there was the hawk, in the same tree watching the hens in the run.  BOOM.  A single shot in the ground scared it off.  It was loud, but didn’t seem obnoxiously so.  Perfect.  The rest of the evening the hens were quiet as can be, though they were pretty stinkin’  jumpy if so much as a small robin flew overhead.

This morning I went to let the hens into the run and  there was my friend the hawk again.  “Don’t he never sleep?”  BOOM.  This time it seemed a lot louder, and certainly scared off the hawk.

So I did a little research on laws regarding firing a weapon near homes here.  Curiously there is no county law on this.  State law says you can’t do so within 500′ of a residence unless you have verbal consent of the owner or lessee.  There are only two houses that might be impacted.  They probably are greater than that distance from me, but maybe close.

Rural people are pretty practical about such things.  Last fall Don from down the road told me “If you hear any gunfire, it’s just Sam shootin’ coons.”

I wasn’t too worried about Steve on the hill above me as his uncle told me they shoot all the time.  When I mentioned shooting squirrels with a pellet gun, he said “Oh, hell, you ought to get you a .410!”  These people are farmers.  If nature gets in the way of your farming, you simply modify nature.  No need to overthink the situation.

But 85-year-old Faith lives on the other side of me.  She’s a real character and buys eggs from me sometimes.  (She’s the aunt of Sam, who shoots coons.)  I walked on down tonight to offer her some eggs, but also to offer an explanation of the recent shotgun blasts.  She was unfazed. She expressed shock that a hawk was killing my hens and said “Hell, I’d shoot the hawk!”  When I said I really didn’t want to do that, she smiled and replied “I’ll never tell, dear.”

Like I said, rural people are pretty practical.

No hawk this evening so far, but my butt-ugly little single-shot .410 is at the ready.