In 1948 Harry began flying hawks at the age of 18 while living in Houston, Texas. His first bird was a female Cooper’s hawk. After completing his Bachelor degree, Harry moved to the Armstrong Ranch to teach in their school. While on the ranch, he flew a Peregrine falcon on ducks.
His initial move to Arizona brought a wide range of living locations and a variety of birds of prey including the Sharpie, Red-Headed Merlin, Cooper’s, and Harris’. Harry completed A Master’s degree in Education at the University of Arizona .
After years of teaching and being a principal, Harry and family moved to Battle Mountain, Nevada where he worked as the county counselor and psychologist. Trout stream fishing was great, and he flew an American Goshawk plus hawked the New Zealand, Lanner and Barbary falcons.
South and Central America was home for six years. Hawking in Ecuador was not productive so Harry and family moved to Peru where he hunted the Bi-Colored hawk and Aplomado falcon on Rail in the marshes south of Lima accompanied by the local falconers. Just to add a little color, Harry and company trapped the Aplomodo in the altoplano northeast of the Peruvian capital. While in Mexico Harry and family lived in Queretaro two hours north of Mexico City. Again, hawking with the local falconers, he hunted quail with the Aplomado for three years.
A change was in order and the McElroy family moved to Mountain Home, Idaho. Here Harry hawked quail with the Aplomodo and flew the passage Cooper’s.
After two years the high desert of Arizona beckoned and Willcox was the target. He hawked both the male and female aplomado on quail. Harry began using a gaited mule named Jody for a couple seasons. After which came the Peruvian and he has not looked back. First Dancer, then the Master of the trade, Juanito, which Harry rode 16 seasons rain, wind, snow or shine. We continue with this breed but hunts will never be the same with the replacement.
The drought necessitated a move to find quail and Kingman was the answer. Here Harry focused again on the Aplomado. Mixing in the American Goshawk, Harris and a Gyr-Aplo hybred cross, all with one enemy in mind. For added color Harry joined Jamaica Smith to fly two Harris’s together.
Harry was drawn to the Aplomado falcon because of its social nature. Fascinated by its behavior mechanisms, especially the intense bonding. But size matters and Kingman is home for many a raven, so enter the Gyr-Aplo.
Harry was the president of the Arizona Falconers’ Club for 10 years and is now an honorary member. He has written articles for a number of journals. The American Falconry magazine has been one of Harry’s favorite places to publish his articles and also he has sent work to the British Falconers Journal.
Desert Hawking Series
Harry McElroy has enjoyed the craft of writing through out his hawking career. His first book in the Desert Hawking series was published in 1974. Three years later in 1977 Desert Hawking II, which focused on the Cooper’s and Harris’, was offered for sale. His third book, Desert Hawking with a little help from my friends, published in 1996. This publication was enriched with chapters from friends: Oscar Biengolea, Tom and Jennifer Coulson Phd. Mario DiDominico, Adam Norrie, Eric Tabb and Dr. Kenneth Tuttle. In Desert Hawking IV; Quail, 2008, Harry writes about the Harris’ hawk and Aplomado falcon plus adding chapters on bird dogs and horse. Desert Hawking II Updated, published in 2014, has the both old and new combined. Harry revisited the original topics to revise and added chapters by Jamaica and Greg Smith. Both live in Kingman flying a wide range of accipiters, hawks and an eagle too.
Revisit Desert Hawking ll (published in 1977); The original Coopers Hawk and Harris’ combo is now redone with updates and additional chapters. Now 225 pages with both old and new black and white photos. The book contains the original chapters plus three additional articles.
Jamaica Smith writes about hunting a Coulson-Project Harris. Greg Smith adds his take on the Cooper’s hawk hunting quail in the Arizona desert and Harry McElroy writes about his Goshawk; Don Quixote. This print on demand edition was completed in 2014 with the help of Kenn Filkins.
This book is a continuation of the Desert Hawking series, and it could be viewed as a culmination of my hawking techniques. From the beginning of my falconry career, I have favored the direct pursuit hawks such as the accipiters, Harris and aplomado. Because of my senior status and the length of our flights, I hunt with four good legs under me.
My preference is the Peruvian Paso. Desert Hawking IV: Quail begins with a focus on the Harris at quail and then moves on to hawking this game bird with the aplomado. There are 327 illustrations including color photos, drawings, and works of art. It is slightly shorter than its predecessor with 368 pages. The book closes with a chapter written by my friends hunting other prey with the aplomado, but the reader is forewarned that this work is narrowly focused on hawking desert quail.