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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Falconry and Hunting in Morocco

My father has a tradition to go hunting in a remote area in Morocco called Gulmeem, its about six hours driving from Marrakech. Our convoy drove there in the afternoon, and we all sent the night at a small hunting lodge we have in the area to prepare for the hunt.

Our day started at 4am, we all got dressed warmly (even though its very sunny the weather outside was incredibly cold) and had a full hearty breakfast. The porridge shown in the picture bellow is an Emirati delicacy called Harees, it's made of ground wheat accented with whatever meat is available (from lamb to gazelle).

Our hunting party then gathered for a pre-hunt picture. Besides using guns, we also used falcons in the traditional arabian falconry. Our prized catch was a bird called the Houbara Bustard, its very hard to find, but has been traditionally hunted in Arabia. This bird unlike others we do not shoot, we use the falcons to catch it


Before we headed out, we sent a few scouts; seasoned bedouins, trained at finding the bird and the areas of the desert that is rich in game. Until the spot the bustard, we drove into the wilderness to find a campsite for our lunch, all the while hunting what game came in our way.

We all had a great lunch after a thrilling hunt, eating with our hands in the traditional way (I found that exceptionally challenging because in some families the old ways of eating were never used with the new generation).

The scouts finally radioed in their positions, and the entire party ran into our fleet, we drove at break neck speeds; afraid to loose that bird, it was the first (and as it turned out last) bird to be found that season. using our cars we scared the bird out of the shrubs, and as it ran gaining speed we released the falcon. It was fascinating the bird flew high, spotted the bustard and dived in, and the tw large birds started wrestling, until our falcon won, and we jumped in and caught the bustard alive.

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