On Monday 16th July we had our appointment with a local Eagle Hunter in Bokonbaevo close to the Issy Kul lake, and at 100 kilometres in length is the largest fresh water lake in Kyrgyzstan.
We had decided to pay for a private Eagle display as we had missed the Eagle section of the Nomad Games held the previous day. As luck would have it, as we waited for our rendezvous outside the busy local CBT office, a Swiss German couple approached Landy and asked after our plans. We explained that we had missed the Eagles yesterday and had a show arranged for us shortly. They too had missed the Eagles the previous day and gladly offered to share the cost of the display. We popped them in the back of Landy and set forth into the hills following a local car full of people and unbeknownst to us, a rather large Eagle, a lovely grey rabbit and a bow and arrow set with quiver and target.
We drove for 25km out of town to the village of Kek-Sai which hosts their annual Eagle Games in August. Outside the village there was a large hill and after posing for photos, the large hooded Eagle was carried up to the top of the hill and the lovely grey rabbit was placed on the ground.
The Eagle was released and circled and swooped rapidly and immediately found the poor grey rabbit, which was killed instantly and became one of the creatures weekly meals! Apparently they feed twice a week and the Eagle hunter had three Eagles which were used for displays, hunting and competitions.
This Eagle was 6 years old and they live until they are 55 years of age. He claimed that they trained and hunted with them until they were 20 years old and then they were released back into the wild. Is that credible?
The Eagle had a few other tricks up its sleeve, including zooming down from the top of the hill in search of a rabbit bone held aloft it’s owners arm. The Eagle Hunter, Sultan, said he had won 500 awards with Eagles and it was certainly an impressive display. The last display was the Eagle swooping down on a skinned fox fur which was being dragged along the ground and there was no doubt that it knew what was expected and was handsomely rewarded before being hooded and taken back to the waiting black estate car!
The other occupants of the car, apart from the Eagle hunter were two young girls who acted as interpreters and a young boy armed with a bow and a quiver full of arrows plus a portable target.
He was the Eagle hunters younger brother and had come to show off his target practice and give everyone a chance to show themselves up with the bow and arrows!
The Eagle display having been accomplished, with Jim mortified about the sacrifice of the lovely grey rabbit, we set off with the young couple in the back of the car plus their massive rucksacks, for the rest of our day.