Eagle hunting has been an age-old profession in the lands of Central Asia. The relationship between a man and his eagle is taken seriously, and it starts when the man risks his life to capture a young one to begin the bonding process.
This man and eagle relationship can last up to twenty years.
On my first weekend in Bishkek back in November, I was invited on a group trip out to Lake Issyk-kul where professional eagle hunters gathered to show off their skills. Granted we had to wait around for ages to discover the issue was that the show was without live prey, it was still enjoyable to get so close to these men and their precious golden eagles.
Eventually the group decided to use a stuffed rabbit that was dragged by horse in order to get the eagles to compete. I guess it worked — and I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed seeing them use live prey anyway.
Here are my photos from the day:
In Kyrgyzstan, it is said that eagle hunting has been in action for 6,000 years.
To train the eagle, they use a hood to keep it in the dark until it becomes dependent on the owner. The eagles are then used to hunt for the owners who are sure to snatch up the eagle’s kill but also reward it with a snack of mouse or some other small treat.
If you enjoyed this photo essay, you might also enjoy my essay called “Somewhere in Kyrgyzstan“.