Ardak’s skills were taught by his father, a tradition that goes back thousands of years. The female eagle lives with him literally, and he takes it out almost every day. It is a major commitment of time for a nomad that has grazing livestock to attend to.
Our first view of his eagle when we first arrived and it was outside sunning
The neighbor has an eagle also, and they would both be outside at times
The eagle lives in the house with Ardak and his family. It sits there calmly with all the action of cooking and visitors going on around it
The eagle knows when it is time to eat though!
Ardak mixes rabbit meat with water before feeding
Eagle dinner time!
The eagle is a voracious eater
We had a chance to get up close and personal
The eagle is used to hunt rabbits and fox. To be able to film it in the actual hunt for a rabbit is difficult due to the small size of the rabbit, the distance, and speeds involved. We did most of our photography with a rabbit and fox that were recently killed by Ardak for the pelts and meat like he does routinely. He saved them as training for the eagle, and we used them in our filming.
Ardak would ride off with the eagle in the morning to a place that most likely would have rabbits or foxes to hunt. We would leave early in the morning for good photography light. He went first on horseback, and we would drive ahead to set up our filming.
We would start early in the very cold morning since we were using natural light and the best light is when the sun is rising or just before setting
Off he would ride to our pre-arranged rendezvous point
Ardak would climb to a good vantage point and scan for rabbits or foxes. He used some very old binoculars, but he had eagle eyes (excuse the pun), and nothing would escape his gaze.
When he first arrived to his vantage point he would wait for us
The eagle would be anxious to hunt
He would scan for several minutes at a time
When he found a rabbit he would shoot it and bring it back to feed and help train the eagle. I have no idea how he shot this rabbit using a very old 22 caliber rifle with iron sights.
Ardak was very cooperative, and would repeat any action so that we got the footage we needed. It gave us the opportunity to get some good still shots and some great footage of the eagle in flight.
Click on the photo below to see our page of the eagle in action
We filmed under some pretty challenging conditions. Click on the picture below to see what it was like.