Combat Flip Flops has asked me to write a little piece on how to get started in falconry. I feel before I just jump into the nitty-gritty though I should introduce all of you to who I am, and why I do what I do. Hopefully it will round out the entire picture of my motivation and love for the sport.
For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed being outdoors. My passion for hunting and fishing has been described, mainly by my wife, as a clinical obsession.
I have worked as a guide and packer for outfitters like Ken Smiths’ Hunting Idaho and Lost Lakes Outfitters, following a boyhood dream of mine. To be out in Gods’ country experiencing all of its glory is where my heart belongs.
When I was fourteen years old, living in Utah, I was first introduced to the wonders of birds of prey by an elderly neighbor. Mrs. York had a bunch of bird feeders in her garden, and one day I saw a prairie falcon take a dove off of one of her feeders. It was amazing! A couple of weeks later it happened again, and I was hooked. Mrs. York gave me a phone number of a gentleman that was a master falconer, but I never actually called the man until I attended a new school.
And the gentleman that owned our majestic bird just so happened to be the same man Mrs. York knew. After seeing the interaction between bird, falconer, and quarry, I was obsessed.
From then on I would do massive amounts of research and tagalongs. Finding a sponsor was difficult for me, so over time I slipped away from falconry, as I moved across the country a few times and was too busy with other things. It always stayed a dream though, in the back of my mind.
I joined the US Army in 2008 after many talks with Griff and his wife, Michele. I loved serving our country and doing it in the Army I was also following my father’s footsteps. I deployed in 2010 to Afghanistan but unfortunately, due to a combat injury I received, the Army was unwilling to retain me. The damage to my spine is so severe I was told the largest firearm I could shoot without risking paralysis was a .22. So as you can see, my two great passions were at severe risk of annihilation.
Wanting to find another way to hunt, I thought of falconry while recovering from surgery. I imagine when I asked my wife she thought: “great, another outdoor hobby he wants to start,” but being the amazing woman she is, she entertained me with support.
Now it was time to brush up on all things falconry. Once you're ready to learn, here are steps you can take to get started.
1. Find current falconers and pick their brain. This should be the first step anyone takes to getting into falconry.
2. Do research. There are a bunch of excellent books out there. If you would like my personal preference in a good first book then try, American Kestrels in Modern Falconry written by Matthew Mullenix or The Art and Practice of Hawking by E. B. Michell.
Next time I’ll discuss exactly how I went about getting started in this wonderful sport and help you approach it from a falconer’s point of view.
Post curated by Jack Sercu