HUNTING TOUR IN GEORGIA, CAUCASUS
Falconry Tour (As long as you wish)
Season: From Agust to middle of November.
Arrival to Tbilisi Airport, where you will be met by the representatives of Concord Travel Company: Tour Manager and Guide. Departure to Kakheti.
Overnight in Telavi.
A professional trainer and falconer will assist you during the tour. If you are good hunter, you are able to catch at least 30 quails, ducks, rabbits, partridges, willow-ptarmigans, pheasants, etc.
You will be provided with the sparrow hawks; the hunter dogs, all necessary accessories for hunting: Bells, Leather bewits, Jess sets, Swivels, Leashes, Eyelet Tools, Revolving Punches, Falconer's Knife, Feather Straightener, etc.
Overnights in Telavi.
| Departure Day
Drive to Tbilisi Airport for departure.
Other details available upon request
| ||Note: Duration of the tour must be fit to your arrival and departure flights. |
| || Prices include: |
|»|| Transfer from and to Tbilisi Airport|
|»|| Inland transportation |
|»|| Professional Falconer |
|»|| Your language speaking Guide |
|»|| Hotel Accommodation |
|»|| FB Meal |
|»|| Georgian Souvenir Gift |
|»|| DVD per person (Operator will shoot a wonderful movie about your group while trip) |
| || Prices exclude: |
|»|| Flights |
|»|| Travel insurance |
Falconry and Hawking in Georgia
The Eurasian Sparrow hawk (Accipiter nisus) is a small bird of prey in the family Accipitridae which includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards, harriers and other sparrow hawks. It is a widespread species throughout the temperate and subtropical parts of the Old World.
It is mainly resident, but birds from colder regions of north Europe and Asia migrate south for the winter, as far as North Africa and India. This species nests in trees, building a new nest each year. It hunts birds in woodland or cultivated areas, relying on surprise as it flies from a perch or hedge-hops to catch its prey unaware. This bird is a small raptor with short broad wings and a long tail, both adaptations to maneuvering through trees. The male is 29-34 cm long with a 59-64 cm wingspan, and is slate-grey above and barred reddish below. The male was formerly called a musket, and the gun called a musket was named after the bird. The female is much larger at 35-41 cm length and a 67-80 cm wingspan. She is barred grey below, and can be confused with the similarly sized male Goshawk, but lacks the bulk of that species. The juvenile is brown above and barred brown below. The flight is a characteristic "flap – flap – glide".
Falconry in Georgia is regarded as an age-old tradition, entrenched in culture and folklore, with its legendary origin reaching as far back as the 5th Century AC. Falconry in Georgia may have developed even much earlier than the 5th century, as indicated by archaeological artifacts excavated in Eastern Georgia. During the Middle Ages it flourished in Georgia. Noblemen, in a tradition similarly found in Europe, developed falconry into a fine and disciplined art. In the 12th Century, during the reign of Queen Tamara, Lord Gurieli of Guria appointed a whole family of falconers from Atchara to his court. A head falconer (Baziertuhutsesi) supervised the training of high-caliber falcons, such as the Peregrine.
During ritualized hunting these falcons were deployed from horseback to catch large game birds like Pheasant, which were flushed before them by drivers banging on drums. The Ottoman Turks, conquering the western part of Georgia in 1578, held local falconers and their training skills in high esteem. This is evidenced by the fact that in addition to 12 virgins and 12 young men for their appeasement, the Turks demanded a bribe of 12 trained falcons and 12 trained Sparrow hawks. Jean Chardin, a French traveler and archaeologist exploring western Georgia in the 17th century, described the passion for falconry at that time.
The quail hunting season starts in August and lasts 2-2,5 months. The ready-trained Sparrow hawk is dressed with proper leather jesses and with two bells of different tune, one on each ankle. In some cases an extra bell is tied to the breast. Hunting is performed during the cooler parts of the day, usually late afternoon.
Beforehand, the hawk is deprived of food to make it a fiercely motivated hunter. A falconer usually hunts only in the company of his dog (e.g. Irish or English Setter). Together they hike through the gardens and fields. As soon as his dog points to hidden prey he takes position next to it and raises his left arm with the hawk in readiness. The dog is then commanded to flush the prey and let the hawk do the rest. On its first hunt the hawk is allowed to catch only one quail. It is flown from a long line that is cross-wrapped on the falconer‚s hand. From the second day more quails may be caught, eventually without a line. The falconer performs “datvaltvineba”‚ after each successful strike to stimulate the hawk’s appetite. With a juvenile Sparrow hawk a falconer can catch up to 5-10 quails per day.
Hunting with an experienced adult bird can give much better results; up to 30 quails. Prior to salting and smoking, the bagged quails are cured for 10-15 days. Quail meat is regarded as a delicacy and merely supplements the staple diet of rustic people in winter. The aspiration of falconers is to win the local and national falconry competitions held around the end of October.
Falconers gather at these competitions to proudly display and perform with their hawks. In the Caucasus, where sparrow hawk is particularly popular as a hunting bird, is called “mimino”. After the hunting season, a widespread practice is to release trained birds into the wild.
Occasionally the very skilled ones, which have demonstrated exceptional qualities, are kept over winter. In such cases, the owner has to not only feed, but also care for the bird until the following hunting season. Such birds are called kapoeti (kypoeti). According to renowned experts, if trained by a highly qualified falconer, the bird is capable of tackling almost the entire range of potential feathered quarry taken goshawk. Also, it is worth noting that the bird is capable of quick domestication and obediently performs learned commands.
Among the Caucasus falconers white sparrow hawks are especially prized. At falconry contests, at equal ratings with other contestants, they achieve top awards for their spectacular performance. Sparrow hawks common can be divided into following subspecies according to their colors: Accipiter nisus galbus - flavus - ruber - niger - canens – canitudo.
After the Bolshevist revolution in 1917 falconry became a taboo in Georgia, as it was associated with aristocracy. Under the restrictions imposed by the Communist regime the tradition nearly disappeared. In the mid-sixties the tradition began to revive. The sport was finally legalized in 1967 and placed under the auspices of a Falconry Section within the Union of Hunters and Fishermen.