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Falconry and its Ancient Demands

By Jacob Fisher

A falcon in action. Courtesy of the California Hawking Club

Falconry is an ancient and demanding sport in which you control and train birds of prey. You get to watch and control majestic birds as they hunt and participate in a sport that has existed for centuries.

Falconry, in essence, is “A symbiotic working relationship with a trained bird of prey to hunt in their natural habitat.” according to Denise Disharoon from Sky Falconry, a club that is dedicated to teaching the history of falconry. In essence, falconry is a sport where you work with trained falcons to hunt small prey. The art of falconry is very old. West Coast Falconry, a falconry organization that offers falconry classes and services, in an email interview stated that falconry is an ancient art that has been practiced for over 8000 years and was originally a way to hunt food as well as entertain the nobles.

Courtesy of the California Hawking Club

So how does one get into it? According to the California Hawking Club, an organization that is meant to promote the public image of falconry and to assist in the conservation of raptors, in order to become a falconer, you have to pass a rigorous exam, and be willing to commit the majority of your life to the art of falconry. First, you have to pass a falconry exam consisting of 100 multiple choice questions about all aspects of falconry. Once you’ve passed the exam, you need to obtain a hunting license, go through a laborious process to obtain a sponsor, purchase a sizable amount of expensive equipment, submit some paperwork, trap your first raptor, submit some more paperwork, and finally, you’ll become a falconer.

Courtesy of the California Hawking Club

Becoming a falconer is the easy part, because once you’ve caught your first falcon, you need to create a place for it to live. Falcons live in kind of house called a Mew. Sky Falconry states, in an interview conducted through email, that a to keep a falcon, the falcon needs a “…individual house … where they live free lofted. During the day they may be perched inside of a weathering yard that is secure with fresh water for each bird and a shade cloth. It is important the weathering yard is fully protected from other predators or animals accessing it”. Constructing a mew properly is very important for the health and safety of your raptor. According to a website titled The Art of Manliness, “a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man”, “Mews are generally the size of a bedroom or large tool shed… Most mews utilize a ‘safety chamber.’” The blog explains that the safety chamber is a small entryway with one door to the housing unit of the mew and one door to the outside. It is here that the falconer can restrain the animal when entering and exiting, and also prevent birds from escaping or harming themselves. 

It will take all of your time and energy.

Falconry is a lifestyle, and is not like simply owning a pet. It will take all of your time and energy. The California Hawking Club asks on its website, “Are you an outdoors person? Do you like animals? Are you a hunter? Will you be able to hunt three to six times a week during the hunting season on the hawk’s schedule – not yours? If you’ve never hunted, can you learn?” If you answer no to any of these questions, you don’t have what it takes to become a falconer. To be a true falconer, you must be one with your falcon. You must allow it to hunt when it wants to, not when you feel like it.

So, if you are interested in preserving the art of falconry, first, check to see if falconry is legal in your area. Then, look up the falconry clubs in your area. 

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