DONORS:
Paul and Linda Mascuch, Steve and Beth Berg, Bob Collins
by Paul M.
P
hil was born on September 8th, 1948 in Chicago Illinois and
passed away on June 26th, 2019.
Phil was interested in birds of prey and falconry from an
early age. He started flying birds around 1962 or 1963 and was an
early member of the Great Lakes Falconers Association.
He dated Pennie Voglein who would later become his wife.
Together they flew Harris’ Hawks at the then plentiful game in
the Chicagoland area. When Phil was called to serve in Vietnam,
Pennie took care of his birds. They married when he returned from
the war.
Phil served as a Military Policeman while in Vietnam. He was
stationed up on the Demilitarized Zone where he was heavily
exposed to Agent Orange. This exposure led to serious medical
complications in later life and led to his death.
While in Vietnam, Phil observed the
local indigenous falcons flying around
and decided he needed to capture
one. He wrote to Fidele de LaTorre
and asked for help. Fidele sent Phil
nets and other trapping equipment
he would need to procure a bird.
Phil found an open area that seemed
ideal for a trapping site and set up his
rig. Upon returning to base, a fellow
soldier asked him if he had seen the
signs posted around this trapping site
written in Vietnamese. Phil said he had
seen them but didnt know what they meant. The soldier explained
that the signs said “Danger Minefield. Phil always said that to this
day his trapping rig was probably still set up over there.
After the war Phil returned to Illinois and he and Pennie married.
He started working installing hardwood flooring. He eventually
started his own hardwood flooring company and specialized in
high end flooring installations using exotic woods and complicated
designs. Phil was a woodworking artist. He could design and make
anything out of wood.
Phil and Pennie had two sons, Nick and Jeff. He was very proud of
them and never ceased to brag about them. When his boys married
and had children Phil was a proud, involved, and loving grandpa.
After his family, Phil’s love was birds of prey and falconry. He
started in falconry in high school and flew birds his entire life. He
loved trapping hawks and assisted several banders over the years
capturing and banding the raptors that migrated down the Lake
Michigan shoreline.
Phil was a longtime member of the Great Lakes Falconers
Association. He served as its president for a number of years. He
worked tirelessly to get the Peregrine Falcon removed from the
Illinois endangered species list and to secure approval of a legal
peregrine take in the state. He was successful in drawing the
first permit for a peregrine take in Illinois. Unfortunately, Phil’s
increasing medical issues prevented him from filling that permit.
Phil was also heavily involved in breeding falcons. When he
decided he wanted to begin breeding falcons he travelled to Cornell
to learn their techniques they developed to breed peregrines. He
produced many peregrines and hybrid falcons with his friends. He
helped many others around the country breed falcons, providing
advice and falcon semen when required.
Phil loved Gyrs, Peregrines, and Merlins and successfully flew many
over the years. For many years he and his friends would travel to
the sandhills of Nebraska to chase ducks, sharptails, and prairie
chickens. In that area of Nebraska there was a nice steakhouse
restaurant and he began the tradition that if anyone made a
successful catch that day that person had to buy dinner that night
for everyone.
Phil was a pigeon fancier and for a while did white pigeon releases
at weddings. There was always a pigeon coop with birds at his
place.
Phil was always there for his friends and could be counted on for
help and advice whenever needed. He is and will be sorely missed
by those in the falconry community that knew him best.
Rest in peace dear friend.
Remembering Phil
After his family,
Phil’s love was
birds of pey and
falconry.
Phil was always
there f his
iends and could
be counted on f
help and advice
whenever needed.
THE INDIANA JONES OF
FALCONRY
by Steve Berg
On June 26th the world became a lot darker of a
place for me and others who knew and loved Phil.
None of us should have been surprised by the fact
his life was cut short as we have watched him erode
away for years from the results of chemical exposure
through his time in the service in Vietnam. It was
still devastating to those who loved him as he never
complained or dramatized the actual agony he was
living and thus it was a surprise for all of us.
I looked at Phil as the Indiana Jones of falconry.
He dedicated his life to the pursuit of it. He lived,
breathed, sweated and bled falconry. The only thing
that exceeded his passion was his family. Grandkids
were the top priority since their arrival even eclipsing
falconry. Pennie and Phil’s sons, Nick and Je, were
the apples of their eyes.
Phil was not only one of my best friends but he
was my falconry sponsor. He was a maniac in the
field and at times I could barely keep up with him.
Dave Samuels said it best that Phil would push
and push and push us in the field to the point of
exhaustion. I can remember on numerous occasions
after a long pursuit on ducks to get them o a pond
that essentially was too large to be hawked and our
being totally winded. It was well worth it because we
always came up with a slip and Robin the peregrine
would always clobber a duck. Phil would look at
me and say I move pretty fast for a fat guy - huh.
It always made me smile when
he would say that. He was 10
years my senior but he always
pushed me in the field. He was
like a big brother to me taking
me under his wing training me.
After operation falcon I ended up
flying Robin for a few years. Phil
had created a machine and I was
killing 60-80 ducks a year with
her. The first falcon we made
was with Robin was under my
permit but it was all Phil’s doing.
He walked me through every
step. Courtship, insemination,
incubation, hatching ETC…Phil
was an expert at all of it. That
bird went to Vick Hardaswick as
he was in charge of most of the
peregrine release program birds around the country
at the time. Phil and I talked about it and thought it
was fitting as Vick was the one who bred Robin and
gave her to Phil.
Not every flight was a success as we had plenty
of disasters and heartbreaks over the years. One
of the biggest cringe moments I can remember was
when Paul Mascuch and I were with Phil in Nebraska.
Phil went to fly Blake, a gyrkin that was determined
to kill himself from the day he popped out of the
egg. Blake, as usual, was flying with no purpose or
intensity at all. He suddenly started cranking hard
which got us all excited. We then realized he was in
pursuit of a fully mature bald eagle. Blake continued
to harass the bird to let him know he was king of
the air. He then flew right under the eagle and rolled
over and tried to grab him from underneath. At this
point Paul and I had to look away as we did not want
to see the landing gear drop and Blake become an
eventual casting. He escaped I believe only by divine
intervention all the time with Phil screaming at the
top of his lungs trying to get Blake to turn back. He
eventually did and headed back but decided to land
in the middle of the lake (which of course was too
big to be flying in the first place). He then took a
bath in a small open hole in the ice in the middle
of the lake. This is when the eagle decided to turn
and head back to snag Blake o the edge of the
ice. Again, Paul and I had to turn and not look. Phil
continued to scream his brains out. Somehow, we
got Blake back that day alive only for him to try and
kill himself another day. Funny how the 100’s of kills
we made over the years and most just blend into the
memory bank but the disasters I
tend to remember in fine detail.
Phil was an expert at the fine
details. From hooding tips, to
breeding pointers and raptor
management, I always was
learning right up until the very
end. Less than a week after he
passed, I had an issue with a
pair of gyrs and thought Phil
would know what to do and then
realized my friend was gone.
Those who were close to Phil will
miss him. Our lives are a lot less
entertaining and dull because he
is not here. I am glad his silent
suering is over but I miss my
good friend.