2007-2010 NEWS & EVENTS
2009 OFA FALCONRY MEET
The falconry season is finally here! The heat is fading, trees are changing colors, the moult is drawing to a close, and the OFA fall meet was held this past weekend. Being that I am a first year apprentice and new to falconry meets, it would be the understatement of the century to say I was just excited! The Oklahoma Falconers’ Association decided to hold their annual fall field meet in Woodward this year with the goal of scouting some of the fields we will be flying at the NAFA meet and hopefully catch some game while we’re at it!
Friday morning found Woodward, Oklahoma being taken over by falconers from all corners of the state. The meet also happened to coincide with Woodward’s fall outdoor expo, Fall-A-Days, where OFA member, Greg Stipp, set up a booth to advertise the upcoming NAFA meet to the local community. As the day progressed more falconer friends showed up, and the energy level began to rise. After a little time spent talking about falconry with the locals of Woodward, it was time to hit the fields!
The lovely Heather Clement had the honor of flying first at the meet with her intermewed Red-tailed Hawk, Dharr. Though no rabbits where nabbed during that session, some nice flights where seen and the bunnies were scared enough to go into deep hiding by the time it was my turn to fly. After watching several of the other birds, the sun set on a great first day and we headed back to the Northwest Inn, which just so happens to be the headquarters for the NAFA Meet. That evening many stories where shared, good times where had, and laughter, along with a few imprint sharpie screams, where heard till the wee hours of the night.
Morning found some of us moving a little slow, but after a few cups of coffee, and a bite to eat, it was off to do a little car hawking with Ryan Christensen’s imprint Kestrel. Following a good showing from him, it was time to go scouting several more fields. So we next headed out to some spots around the lake. There Kent Carbaugh flew his older Harris hawk while we waited to meet up with other Okie hawkers who had just arrived that morning.
The group then decided to split up and I headed out with Rob Rainey, Mitch Wishon, and his new apprentice, Jake, to watch them fly their Goshawks, while the rest of the crew headed to another spot. Some INCREDIBLE flights where seen by both groups and we all had stories to tell when we converged back together later that morning. After lunch we headed to a spot that was lovingly dubbed "the honey hole" and got the birds out to chase some bunnies and Jacks. The rabbits here where thick like flies, which resulted in Dee Dee, my Red-tailed Hawk and first falconry bird, scoring her third rabbit of the season!
All the birds put on a good show for us and we headed back to the hotel in high spirits. That evening a lure was made, a sharpie got a new perch, and a lot more laughs and stories soon followed. Sunday morning found us back at "the honey hole" where we kicked off the morning with a few creance flights from Chris Kimble's new hawk before we started flying the other birds. It was about this time the wind picked up a bit, but we still managed to kick up plenty of game that got pursued relentlessly throughout the morning. After another car hawking session and a few more flights with the Goshawks it was time for my first falconry meet to come to a close. Much more occurred at the meet that I did not have the pleasure of experiencing first hand, but I know for a fact a lot of pleased falconers headed out of Woodward that afternoon. Quail, pheasants, rabbits, jacks, ducks…Woodward delivered! Start your count down.....the NAFA meet is just around the corner!!!!!
Hats off to the Oklahoma Falconry Association for a job well done! Boy Scout Troop 55 attended the 100th Anniversary Camporee recently held in Oklahoma City. Without a doubt, the activity that most impressed the Scouts was the falconry demonstration. Every session was a "packed house". The presenters were well informed and professional. Throughout the weekend events, I overheard Scouts commenting on what they had learned and saw during the sessions. Without a doubt, all were very impressed and would appreciate seeing more demonstrations at other Scouting activities.
Asst. SM, Troop 55
2009 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo
The 2009 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo again proved to be another great event in which many of the outdoor activities available in Oklahoma were showcased for the public. This event was hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation on the sprawling grounds of the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The expo continually attracts more than 30,000 visitors and has continued to grow every year since its inception in 2005. Throughout the years the Oklahoma Falconers’ booth has continued to be a crowd favorite.
Members of the Oklahoma Falconers’ Association volunteered their time throughout the three day event. Many brought their birds for the expo visitors to see and also answered questions about falconry. The expo is a wonderful way to introduce the public to the sport of falconry as it is practiced in Oklahoma. When it was all said and done over 42,000 people attended the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo this year.
The Oklahoma Falconers Association gathered June 6th in Bixby, Oklahoma for the annual summer business meeting. This year’s meeting proved to be another great opportunity for members to catch up with one another. The picnic also offered a chance for new apprentices to meet other members and make new falconry connections that will no doubt serve them in the future. Several members brought their new eyess birds with them to the picnic as well.
The picnic began with lunch sponsored by the club and side dishes brought by the members. Our president Chris Kimble lead the meeting as we discussed the current state of falconry in Oklahoma. Specific topics included the upcoming NAFA meet in Woodward that the club is hosting. We also discussed the new falconry regulations in Oklahoma and the first opportunity in nearly 40 years to trap peregrines in the state.
Following the business meeting we continued with the annual raffle. Many of the members and falconry vendors donated items for the raffle which raised over $700 for the club.
2007 OFA FIELD MEET
The annual OFA field meet was held near Texoma in the panhandle this year on Oct. 26-28 at the home of Dave and Pam Stevens. To surmise the event in one word I would have to say it was "abundant".. .... not only were there many in attendance, but the game was more than plentiful. Slips on pheasant and jacks could be had at the whim of all who had birds capable of taking them and we were never far from the luxuries of the Stevens' beautiful ranch house nestled neatly into a local river bottom. Food and drink were always present and the local diner treated us like a group of visiting kings. To say the least it was a great time.
Friday saw most of the attendees already settled in and hawking, with visitors from as far away as College Station, TX. I know a few had the chance to watch Dave's tiercel Golden Eagle "Aden" take 3 jacks late in the evening. And Eric Pribil was beaming with confidence and delight after taking a Jack with his passage redtail, just three weeks off the trap. A fine dinner and much conversation ensued after dark and many found them selves talking away the night in the comfort of Daves living room, occasionally serenaded by the snoring coming over the second floor balcony.
Eric Pribil and his passage RT with a well earned Jack
Saturday morning was full of trapping and hawking. I know of at least three birds (a prairie, a redtail, and a kestrel) that were trapped out of the plethora of raptors sighted in the area. Prairies seemed to be everywhere, and I saw as many if not more ferruginous than redtails. Even a couple of eagles were seen that day. I was able to add a sharpie and a coops to my list of raptors sighted during the meet as well. The panhandle is truly a raptor rich environment. Rob Rainey's tiercel finish gos who has been hammering feathers all year made his debut as a rabbit hawk. Bruce Kizarr and Glenn Benard both took starlings with their female coopers. And many of us had the pleasure of seeing Mitch Wishon's hybrid put the pressure on some pheasant, which was a real treat for me and the countless others running below one of the neatest little falcons around. As evening approached some headed out to kite there birds, some went in search of ducks and others awaited the chance to see the eagles fly. I headed out with a small group of falconers and a couple local land owners to watch some Redtail vs. Jack action and though we brought none to bag, we did see some great flights.
The Oklahoma panhandle is also home to some hard-core cowboys and some of us were privileged enough to take a ride on some of the many horses living at the Stevens' ranch. I couldn't help but wonder as we flushed pheasant and jacks at our feet how much fun it would be to hawk from horseback.
Again the evening was much enjoyed, with lots of jokes, hawking videos and story swapping to catch up on every ones day. I remember hearing that some guys had lifted an overturned feeder to flush a cottontail, only to find five rabbits peering back at them when they looked under it! Jeremy Bradshaw showed us all what a quality hood looks like as the evening settled down, and one of our out of state visitors, Michael Garcia installed Marshall TrackPacks with a precision I'm sure only he is capable of. And we all cropped up on what must have been the biggest batch of spaghetti ever made!
Aside from Sunday the winds were very tolerable all weekend but even the gale on the last day didn't stop a group of 14 falconers from forming a line along side Dave's tiercel Golden Eagle Aden. Aden mastered the wind in indescribable fashion taking his 100th head of game just feet in front of the crowed. He seemed ready to go all day, but after a number of great flights, many of which ended with us holding our breath we called it a day and scattered to our own niches of Oklahoma after one last meal together in town.
Aden with his 100th head of game!
Obviously one would have difficulty putting all the details of a good meet into words and I know that there are lots of things left unwritten. I recall talking to another falconer and saying that its funny how you go to a meet hoping to see everything, and sometimes leave having only seen a few birds fly.......but its always fun. Whether your getting covered with dirt from the last few kicks of a fighting jack, or admiring a particularly beautiful gyr/merlin on your friends glove, or just enjoying the occasional vocalization of a mesmerizing little goshawk, this meet seemed to have it all..... good friends, good times and good hawking!
Jeff Byrum with kestrel and Dave Stevens with male golden eagle The full spectrum!