October – Mongolia

How to tame a wild beast 101.

Man must be disciplined, for he is by nature raw and wild ~ Immanuel Kant, German philosopher

The Plan: To learn the age-old techniques of training eagles near Bayan Olgii, Western Mongolia, staying with an eagle hunter and his family, and attend the Sagsai Eagle Festival where they play bouzkhasi – similar to polo, but with a carcass of a dead goat!

I’ve always mused about being in the army. Not for the chance to go to war and certainly not for the ugly shoes. It’s the strict daily routine they adhere to that appeals; the discipline of getting out of bed before dawn, running around in formation and doing things when you are told. I live the polar opposite to that. Bar turning up to work on time, paying my bills and abiding by the law (most of the time), I have virtually zero discipline in my life. I’m free to do pretty much what I want, when I want.  To be an eagle hunter you need great discipline. One has to be tough and patient. It takes time to build a rapport with these majestic and powerful predators. Countless hours must be devoted to their training. I want to observe the taming process in action, learning the secrets that have been passed from generation to generation through dynasties.


Fast Facts:

-Traditionally, wild baby eagles are taken from the nest to be trained as hunting birds, but under new legislation this practice is strictly limited.

-Young falconers work their way up firstly taming a sparrow hawk, then a goshawk, saker, peregrine and gyrfalcon. The last bird trained, considered the most significant and capable of taking the greatest range of game, is the golden eagle.



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