Phil and Lori Smith, Jeff Rossey, Washington Falconers Association
avid’s falconry started with his first red-
tail in the mid 80’s. His love of animals started as a
young boy in the California dessert picking up snakes, lizards and
anything else he could outrun. He loved hunting and fishing any way it could be
practiced. In 1976 a young lady came into the motorcycle shop where David was
a mechanic. Cheri and David would start a 38 year adventure that ended with
David’s passing in the fall of 2013. Dave was one of the most patient falconers
I’ve known, never rushing his hawk or falcon. His family was his main hunting
partners but Jeff Rossey was invited to join in with his first Harris hawk in 1991.
I (Jeff Rossey) remember many weekends Dave, Cheri and son Beau would drive
out of their way to pick me up in a Subaru wagon, four people two Harris hawks
and a few jack Russell and one cocker spaniel. We flew from morning till dark.
David flew most of the species of hawk and falcon available to falconers and
excelled at taking game with all of them. He was a hunter first and then falconer.
Dave was as proficient with a pack of big game hounds as he was
with a tiercel coops. During David’s life as a falconer he flew
passage and imprint Coopers Hawks,passage Red-Tail Hawks,
Harris Hawks, passage Prairie Falcons, and a Peregrine Falcon
whose nickname was Duck because she always had to take a bath
before she would hunt.
Cheri and Beau have many memories going hunting with David
and his Harris Hawk named Cholla. Cholla was a friendly bird
(unless you are rabbit or pheasant). When we were out hunting if
one of us flushed up some game, and she did not see it, she would
land on the persons head if the person saw her coming. She wanted
someone to flush. Cholla was gentle with her talons and we never
needed to have a glove. During her first year David got a Jack
Russell terrier named Pete. Cholla at first was not sure of Pete until
after David took them hunting and helped her understand that Pete
was there to help and then she accepted him. On one memorable
hunting trip, Cholla tried to take full grown doe Mule Deer. She
did hit it hard enough to drive it to its knees. Cholla hung while
it was trying to shake her off waiting for David to come help her
with the deer. David stood there not knowing what to do. Finally
Cholla was shaken off when it would not go down. She landed on
some rocks to pout and would not come to him for at least a half
hour because he did not help her with the deer. On many hunting
trips David and Cheri had fun watching Beau run through the sage
yelling HO, HO, HO! like a skinny demented Santa Clause. On
an early fall hunting trip with just David, Pete, and Cholla out at
Banks Lake, it was really hot. David and Pete sat down to rest in
some shade and wound up taking a nap. When they awoke, they
found Cholla had hunted on her own and had caught a pheasant
and teal duck.
David and Jeff Rossey trapped a Prairie Falcon that David hunted
for 9 nine years. Cheri remembers during a falconry meet they
had done their hunting for the day. Jeff called on the cell phone.
They met the rest of the falconers to finish the day. Some partridge
had been found, but the bird in the air did not seem interested.
Someone asked David to fly his Prairie Falcon. David originally
said no because he had already cropped up the falcon. But, he
reconsidered and he got her out. She did him proud with a
wonderful flight and catching a partridge. On her last hunt David
and Jeff were in Oregon hunting Sage Grouse. The Prairie Falcon
finally figured out how to catch the grouse only to be robbed by a
Golden Eagle.
David obtained a female Anatum Peregrine which Cheri named
Lucy. He raised Lucy and started to let her learn to hunt. Lucy
had only caught two head of wild game, when she got caught up
into the jet stream. David followed the signal for about 65 miles
then lost it. Two months later he received a call from a rehabber in
Yucaipa, California (east of Los Angeles). She had Lucy. David and
Cheri drove 27 hours straight and were reunited with Lucy. If Lucy
could talk she would have some splaining (explaining) to do! In
the spring of 2004 David was working bird abatement at Fairchild
Air Force Base. While he was flying Lucy to a lure she had broken
her one of her toes so it hurt her to land. While David was trying
to get Lucy, a storm came up. For three days David followed her
signal all over the Spokane area before he lost it. Five months later
he received a call from a falconer from Miles City, Montana saying
he had Lucy. David drove 24 hours straight to pick her up. When
he got back he told Cheri he was sick of gas station coffee. From
then on Lucy made sure she paid closer attention to David so she
did not get lost.
In 2003 David purchased a tiercel Anatum Peregrine from Ed
Pitcher. On the way home Cheri named him Oscar after Oscar the
Grouch because he was really pissy.Later, he would mellow out but
the name stuck. David hunted ducks, partridge, and pheasants
with both Lucy and Oscar. Over the next several years David
and Cheri had fun with hunting both birds. After Oscar, David
bought a Peregrine/Gyrfalcon hybrid from Jeff Rossey which Cheri
named Stella. Stella grew into a big girl. David and Cheri had two
lovely years with Stella and Lucy. Then David was diagnosed with
mesothelioma. The chemotherapy had David feeling good enough
one last hunting season in the fall of 2012. David passed away on
October 18, 2013.
by Allen Gardner
Dave Gardiner contacted me during the early 80’s
by route of the joint State/Federal apprenticeship
program. As today, it offers, a program of guidance
for the young and new. Dave was neither young
nor new! It didn’t take long to realize that in
this relationship, I could easily have been the
We put the two year program behind us quickly
and effectively. During this time Dave and his
family become a welcomed part of the falconry
community. I was awed by Dave’s becoming a
master falconer, seemingly “overnight”! I taught
Dave how to tie a falconer’s knot and showed him the tools of
our Art. He taught me valued lessons of life.
His first wild taken hawk, a female redtail, become a twenty three year
member of the family. His first passage prairie falcon, a seven year
partner, became an excellent gamehawk. It was flown in Dave’s inimitable
style: “We’ll let her go, take the dogs for a walk and just see what
After he and Cheri became empty nesters, they could be seen frequenting
the native shrub steppe of East Central Washington. Enjoying life.
It is here that I will best remember Dave’s presence - Moving ever so
carefully forward, stylish point ahead, Dave with his head tilted slightly
back...focusing...falcon in command...a wry smile..Dave has moved more time.
David and David Jr., with 5’8”
sturgeon, June 1982
David and wife Cheri of
38 years.
David’s three sons: Beau,
David Jr., and Will.