Southeastern Raptor Center readies for gameday auctions of eagle lures and jesses

Published: Aug 28, 2017
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Robyn Miller wears many hats, including that of doctoral student earning her degree in English and teaching classes at Auburn University; part-time volunteer at the Southeastern Raptor Center where she works with the eagles and other raptors; and artist who designs gameday lures and jesses used during the pregame eagle flight in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Miller is one of several volunteers helping the raptor center design the eagle lures and jesses that will once again be auctioned to Auburn football fans this season.

For Auburn's first football game on Sept. 2, the raptor center's online auction will open Thursday, Aug. 31, and close on Mon., Sept. 4, says Andrew Hopkins, a raptor specialist at the center and one of the trainers for the Auburn eagles. Each lure and jess is handmade of leather and is unique to the specific game.

"The auction is a way that Auburn fans can obtain a one-of-a-kind piece of Auburn football history, while at the same time, support the eagles and programs at the raptor center," Hopkins said. "The leather is either painted, burned or stamped with the design. Typically the lures feature each team and are dated."

Like the other raptor center volunteers, Miller says she got involved simply out of a great interest in education, the outdoors, conservation and an interest in the eagles. A native of Kennesaw, Georgia, Miller has volunteered at the raptor center for five years.

"Every year, I help to design the eagle lures and I see my work as a way to give back to Auburn by doing something that I really enjoy," Miller said. "I have always been interested in education and conservation and in the rehabilitation of raptors."

Jesses are cuffs worn around the eagle's ankles with straps to assist the handler in securely holding the eagle. The lure is used by the handler to entice the eagle to land midfield and often has talon marks from being used. The items are handmade and uniquely decorated by volunteers or staff of the Southeastern Raptor Center and are used one time–during the Auburn eagle's pregame flight.

"We have to get approval from both Auburn and its opponent school for each lure," Hopkins said. "Once we have approval for the designs, the lures are produced and readied for the auction and use on that specific home game day."

The online lure and jesses auction is on the raptor center website, where fans can check out photographs of the lures and jesses and place bids. Each auction will open at the same time, at 2:30 p.m. on Thursdays prior to the home game, and will close on Monday after the game at 2:30 p.m. Money raised from the auctions support the center's mission of rehabilitation, education and conservation.

"These items are truly a rare piece of Auburn memorabilia and something every Auburn fan will want to own," said Dr. Jamie Bellah, director of the Southeastern Raptor Center and head of the Department of Clinical Sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine. "We are proud to offer these items to Auburn fans in support of the educational mission of the raptor center."

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Lure auction schedule:

  • Sept. 2, Georgia Southern
    The auction will open Aug. 31 and close Sept. 4

  • Sept. 16, Mercer
    The auction will open Sept. 14 and close Sept. 18

  • Sept. 30, Mississippi State
    The auction will open Sept. 28 and close Oct. 2

  • Oct. 7, Ole Miss
    The auction will open Oct. 5 and close Oct. 9

  • Nov. 11, Georgia
    The auction will open Nov. 9 and close Nov. 13

  • Nov. 18, Louisiana-Monroe
    The auction will open Nov. 16 and close Nov. 20

  • Nov. 25, Alabama
    The auction will open Nov. 23 and close Nov. 27