2011 SPOTLIGHT

 

Name? 

Mark Waller

 

How long have you been an OFA member?

1972, since its inception.  

 

Positions in OFA?  

Former president; former secretary. 

 

Where do you live? 

Owasso, OK 

 

Job or School? 

Attorney in Tulsa, OK. 

 

Family? 

Wife Terry; son Tres; daughter Aimee; son Luke. 

 

What got you interested in falconry? 

Liked birds, liked hunting, watched Walt Disney's show on "Varda" the peregrine falcon, and was mesmerized by the goshawk scene in the movie "The Vikings" with Kirk Douglass and Tony Curtis.  Once I got my hands on some falconry books, I knew falconry was something I wanted to do. 

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?) 

 Jesse Woody, an Oklahoma legend. 

 

What birds do you currently fly? 

9-yr old gyr-peregrine and this year's passage tundra peregrine. 

 

What birds have you flown in the past? 

Peregrines, one Barbary, Prairie falcons, Gyrfalcons, Gyr-Peregrine hybrids, merlins, kestrels, goshawks, Harris Hawks, Redtails and one fine Savannah Hawk.   

 

What was your favorite bird and why? 

Toss-up between two hybrids, LB and Taz, and Ella the passage gyrfalcon.  Both tiercel hybrids did everything I could ask of them, for 8+ seasons each; the gyr was my first large longwing that took lots of game.  Our Tulsa group had not seen much game taken by large longwings in 1982, so she was pretty amazing to watch over three seasons.  And I should not leave out Dip Jr the kestrel; my son and I had a lot of fun with him over 6 years. 

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly? 

More merlins or tiercel perlins.  Small falcons have so much potential but they take as much or more effort to realize their potential as do the large falcons.  The right one could be a lot of fun.

 

Favorite Quarry? 

Prairie Chickens and Sharptails; I really wish we had more access to huns.   

 

Do you have other animals? 

Son Luke has a Viszla and my wife Terry has a Cavalier spaniel.  I feed them so the dogs think they are mine. 

 

Favorite falconry story?  

My female Peales was high overhead on a thermal and we could not get a flock of scaup to flush off a large pond.  Rocks didn't work but my apprentice Richard Day dove headfirst into the pond, resulting in widespread duck panic and a kill.  That's when I knew I'd made a good call sponsoring Richard (a/k/a the most enthusiastic falconer ever).    

  

Funniest falconry story? 

Second hand, but it involved Alan Beske's lure falling out of his hawking bag, with the long lure line tied to his bag, and him running several hundred yards across a muddy wheat field with his falcon presumably overhead.  Problem was, his eyass prairie had stooped down and bound to the lure, and Beske didn't know she had done so.  He finally flushed the gamebirds, but his bird was nowhere to be found.  He finally looked around and noticed this big brown blob at the end of his lure line.  Those eyass prairies are pretty tenacious.  According to Beske, she was completely covered in mud but never let go.  Great visual.  

 

Favorite quote? 

Probably something from Calvin and Hobbs.

 

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?  

Don't let others tell you that a certain species of bird can't do certain things.  In the 70s if somebody told me a kestrel would catch 250 birds a year I would have never believed it.  I would not have thought redtails would regularly catch crows either.  For a traditional sport, falconers have pushed the envelope quite a bit in the last 30 years. 

 

Who have you sponsored? 

Steve Little, Richard Day, Tim Jessell

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience? 

The unattainable one (for now it seems) of actually relaxing and enjoying the experience once the flight is over.  I rush too much these days. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Name?

Jeff Byrum

 

Where do you live?

Tulsa Oklahoma

 

Family?

I have a lovely Wife, Kim, two sons Kevin and Jeff, and my daughter Megan (the other falconer in the family).

 

What got you interested in falconry?

I happened across a copy of Robert Murphy's book "Varda the flight of a falcon in 1967, that started the obsession. In 1969 I saw the Disney version "Varda the Peregrine Falcon", that sealed the deal.

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)

Mark Waller and Kevin Leggett were my greatest influences, we started out together in the early '70's. Waller is still a mentor and a great influence, as well as others who are just a phone call away. Scott Dillon, Dave Eslicker,  Rob Summers, John PeadenRyan VanZantSteve Sherrod and many others help shape my thinking and practice of the sport.

 

What birds do you currently fly?

A one time intermewed female Kestrel, EP

 

What birds have you flown in the past?

Kestrel, Red-tail, Goshawk, Passage Harris, Coopers Hawk, Sharpie, Gyr-Peregrine Hybrid, Peregrine-Merlin Hybrid

 

What was your favorite bird and why?

It seems strange to say, but a little passage female Kestrel was my favorite bird. I've never seen a little bird with such a big heart. If you had told me in 1970 that a passage Kestrel would end her first season with just 4 shy of 400 kills, 21 of which were Grackles, I would have said you were full of it.

"Chuckie" a particularly hilarious imprint Gyr-Peregrine tiercel is right up there with her.

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly?

European Spar, Merlin-AK hybrid, perhaps another Perlin.

 

Favorite Quarry?

As long as it has feathers I'm good.

 

Do you have other animals?

Vizsla bitch, 3 cats. Yes I used the "C" word.

 

Favorite falconry story?

I was out with Scott Dillon and Dave Eslicker. We found a duck slip for Scott's tiercel hybrid "Bullseye". It was a small pond with trees that were Way too close on the south and east and a northwest wind blowing at about 15mph. Dave and I headed east and worked our way back to the pond hoping to flush the flock of Ring-Necks to the west toward the open prairie. Bullseye was waiting on a little upwind and probably too high considering the trees.

Dave and I flushed on Scott's signal, the ducks headed into the wind and into the open,  Bullseye stooped and all of a sudden the ducks did a sharp J hook and headed right for the trees to the east, obviously they had seen the tiercel. 

The first group crashed through the trees, followed closely by a single drake. Bullseye was in a wobbling out of control stoop with a 15mph tailwind, hit the Ring-Neck not 15 feet from the trees. We thought he was going to hit the trees going full tilt, it looked ugly. Instead Bullseye pulled up hard into an inverted loop, scraped his belly on branches at the edge of the trees did a quick wing-over and landed on his kill.

Best duck flight I've ever seen.

 

Funniest falconry story?

Peaden has already told this one but I have to agree. Waller, Peaden, Summers and I were out doing a little Kestrel hawking. We were having a good day so far. Carhawking three Kestrels must look like a group of autistic kids playing lawn-darts to anyone watching, Kestrels going everywhere.

Waller and I got the bright idea of trying a cast, the plan was to slip one the the birds, let it catch, and then slip the second bird a bit late when the starling's buddies came back in to mob the Kestrel on the kill.

I slipped CP and she made a catch, so far so good. Waller slipped Dip Jr. who had a near miss and landed next to CP. I got out to pick up the birds, got half way there when I noticed a squirrel eyeballing the birds. All of a sudden the tree rat broke into a full run headed right for the birds rolled up in a ball just before he got there and went through the birds like a bowling ball, sending Kestrels and Starling tumbling in all directions. The squirrel went on his way, and CP and Dip were none the worse for wear. Never seen a Starling with a bodyguard before.

That was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

 

Favorite quote?

No living man can, or possibly ever will, understand the instinct of predation that we share with our raptorial servant.  No man-made machine can, or ever will, synthesize that perfect coordination of eye, muscle, and pinion as he stoops to his kill.

Aldo Leopold

 

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?

Every day is a school day. Do your best to find a sponsor that has a great deal of Recent experience with the type of bird you want to fly. Find someone who will be hands on and spend as much time as you can with them. Listen carefully, watch closely, and ask as many questions as you can. Make as many quality friends in the falconry community as possible. Watch and listen to what they say and do and file it away in your memory, it will come back to serve you at some time in the future.

Training the bird is quite often the easy part of this sport, learning as much as you can about your intended quarry and the field craft involved in successfully hunting them will often determine whether you succeed or fail as a falconer.

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?

To better remember why I got into this sport in the first place: To Have Fun.

Name?

Ryan VanZant

 

How long have you been an OFA member?

Since moving to Oklahoma in 2005

 

Positions in OFA?

President-elect and will serve as President starting the summer of 2011

 

Where do you live?

Bartlesville

 

Job or School?

I work at the George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center doing education

 

Family?

I have an awesome wife, Katie, and two daughters

 

What got you interested in falconry?

I volunteered with for the Peregrine fund in the early 90’s while they were hacking Peregrines where I grew up in Fort Wayne, IN.  Watching them learn to be wild had me hooked.  It took one outing in Indianapolis with Mark Booth and his Harris Hawk and I knew Falconry was something I had to do. 

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)

My Sponsor was Greg Felty, a Florida Falconer and former co-worker.  I also took a lot of influence from Dillon Horger, now an Arizona Falconer, who has very streamlined views of how his falconry should be practiced.  After living in several different states for work over the years I settled in Northeast Oklahoma and found some of the highest overall quality of falconry I’ve seen.  I’ve had a lot of influence from many people here, but those that stand out are Steve Sherrod, Raul Ramierez (used to intern for me), Scott Dillon (helps keep falconry fun), and my current apprentice Daniel who ALWAYS makes me explain my thoughts, in detailed detail, which forces me to think deeper into the “whys” of training raptors.

 

What birds do you currently fly?

Gyr/Peregrine Hybrid and a Gyrkin.

 

What birds have you flown in the past?

Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, Gyrfalcon, Gyr/Peregrine Falcon,  and Cooper’s Hawk

 

What was your favorite bird and why?

My last imprint Gyr/Peregrine, Rhythm.  He was my first imprint longwing and first hybrid.  He was a heck of a game hawk and just a pleasure to have around.   He died in the line of duty, hitting a duck hard enough to cause internal damage to himself.

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly?

I’m not really sure.  I definitely want to fly more passage prairie falcons in the future, possibly a Gyr/Barbary cross if I get the itch for another hybrid in the future.  I’m sure I’ll always have a longwing around.

 

Favorite Quarry?

Currently Ducks because at this point in time, they are relatively plentiful and I don’t know any better….

 

Do you have other animals?

Yep…..Parrots, pigeons, fish, sulcata tortoise, a pointer, a vislza, and a boxer.

 

Favorite falconry story?

Some of my favorite times are when I’m out hawking and it’s just me, a bird, and a dog.  The other day I glassed a ½ dozen Ringneck Ducks on a small pond from the two track I was driving on and decided that I was going to fly them.  I park the truck and quickly got my hybrid into the air.  When he mounted up to a good pitch, I ran in and flushed the ducks.  Ringnecks usually flush straight away initially when jumped and these were the norm.  They got up and went straight away from me, only there was no falcon hot on their tails.  Just as I’m in the process of thinking, “where in the heck is he,” I hear a *thwack* and quack just behind me.  So close it made me flinch.  I turn around and not 20 feet away my falcon was subduing a drake Mallard.  I still don’t know where the duck came from, maybe he was up in the neck of the pond and I just didn’t see him there.  The most memorable flight that I never got to see.

 

Funniest falconry story?

Funny is hard to write and there have been a ton of funny falconry stories I can think of but may not be appropriate for the internet.  I did take a non-falconer friend out in the field this one particular time.  Of course he wasn’t dressed for the occasion, wearing a sweater and dress jeans as we stomped around in the thickets.  After a few slips with nothing in the bag I decided that it would be a good time for a drag lure.  I gave my friend the line and told him to run pulling the lure behind him when I give the signal. 

 

After everything was set up, I gave him the cue, and he took off.  The hawk was instantly off from this perch and in hot pursuit.  Not 20 yards into the chase, my buddy stepped into a hole and went tumbling forward into the brush.  After a literal somersault, his body came to a stop and the lure that he was dragging hit snag, bounced up, and landed right on top of him soon followed by the hawk.  So here is this guy, sprawled out on the ground, his sweater had picked up a thousand burrs from tumbling across the ground, his face was bleeding from the thorns, and to top it all off the hawk had both feet buried into his belt while trying to pull at the tidbit on the lure.  I was laughing far too hard to even breathe, let alone help him out.    

 

Favorite quote?

“A falconry expedition brings together a group of men… each of them is animated by the prospect of an agreeable and refreshing change, away from the clamor of the city and the monotony of daily life.”

-Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

 

A still, cold, quite morning is my stress relief from the tensions of “real” life

 

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?

Start with the books in learning but stay flexible in practice.  Every bird is different and there is not one “recipe” that works for all.  And remember that you get out only what you put in.

 

Who have you sponsored?

Daniel Murray and Kent Carbaugh, half way anyway.

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?

To keep finding new ways to keep falconry challenging and interesting by working toward perfecting my training techniques and learning about the natural world through the sport.

 

Contact Info you want public?

Email:  Ryan VanZant

 

Social Networks?

Facebook

Name?

Oscar Pack

 

How long have you been an OFA member?

The first recollection I have of forming a club was when Woody got everyone together at the OKC Zoo in 1974. He called it Oklahoma Falconers Federation or OFF. It kind of fizzled out after he moved to Idaho.

 

Positions in OFA?

I have served as president of the club

 

 

Where do you live?

 I am now in NE Caddo County, south of Cogar or about 12 miles west of  Minco

 

Job or School?

I work as a shop foreman at the Kenworth truck dealership in OKC

 

 

Family?

 Wife Joanna and son Monty

 

What got you interested in falconry?

I really don't know, it's just something that has always been present in my thoughts.

 

 

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)

It was tough in early '70's to talk to another falconer, all newcomers were discouraged from developing an interest. The MBT had just been adopted, essentially outlawing falconry for a while, the state would not issue any permits at that time. Like many, I read NAFHH cover to cover, several times. I then illeaglly trapped a passage RT, before I could get a permit, so in Okie spirit I named her Sooner.

I had been talking to Woody via phone some and when I started flying her free I went out to meet him in El Reno and we went hawking, She caught a rabbit our first outing, I was on cloud 9.

 

 

What birds do you currently fly?

 Tiercel Hybrid and female Golden Eagle

 

What birds have you flown in the past?

RT, Harris and several longwings and Golden Eagle

 

 

What was your favorite bird and why?

My first bird, Sooner, has to be near the top, it is a magical time flying your first hawk, for me anyway.

 

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly?

 A barbary, and passage peregrine

 

Favorite Quarry?

I guess it would be ducks and jacks, pretty much been the focus of last forty years

With the best flight in falconry being a falcon's stoop from a nice pitch

 

 

Do you have other animals?

No

  

 

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?

Give it your all, you will get it all back and then some 

 

Who have you sponsored?

Bryan Gardner

Peter Tirrel

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?

 To trap and fly a passage peregrine

 

Contact Info you want public?

405.966.2108hm

405.694.6922cell

Name?

Steve Sherrod

 

How long have you been an OFA member?

Well, that depends. In about 1984, OFA reorganized, and I had moved back to OK from CO and was a member then. Many of us (Ken Riddle, Mike Brewer, Jesse Woody, Charlie Brewer, John Sterling, and others) were active Oklahoma falconers back in the mid 60's or before, but without any official Oklahoma hawking organization.

 

Positions in OFA?

President 1984-1986; otherwise just a member

 

 

Where do you live?

Bartlesville

 

 

Job or School?

Sutton Research Center, University of Oklahoma, Executive Director

 

 

Family?

Son, Scott 28, and daughter, Alison, 31. Linda is ex-wife and close friend.

 

 

What got you interested in falconry?

My father grew up as a farm boy near Paoli and was outdoor oriented, and my brother was a student ranger in the Wichitas when I grew up in Lawton. My dad and I used to park on the road and watch redtails hunting from telephone poles. He would always call to my attention any raptor anywhere along the road when we were driving. We had many rattlesnakes, squirrels, coyotes, wounded crows, rehab great horned owls, and broken-winged redtails that ended up at our house. As a child, it was just sort of innate, but I always thought that birds of prey were absolutely spectacular, and I held them in great esteem. I had my first broken winged kestrel when I was 8, and I raised two different eyass redtails that I took from Oklahoma nests, the first when I was 12 and on the Boy Scout summer camp staff. 

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)

I had pursued falconry without any books (simply weren't available then) or any advice bumbling through it while in junior high and high school, and managed to catch a few rabbits with my redtail; I also had a great horned owl and a kestrel flying to me on the glove. I met a Marine (Linton Whittles) and youth counselor from Texas who had a beach bird and who was a friend of another of my older friends in OK; I was able to borrow some of Linton's few falconry books, Linton would talk to me long distance by phone, and he made every effort to answer my numerous falconry questions. Later, a stranger (John Sterling) wandered up to a 100 ft elm tree when I was half way up on my way to a redtail nest in Norman, and he eventually introduced me to Mike Brewer who at that time was a student at OU along with me. Mike had a redtail that was catching lots of rabbits, and we ended up becoming friends; he then introduced me to Ken Riddle in Stillwater who also had a peregrine from the beach. With Lihton Whittle's and Riddle's peregrines, I was awestruck. I had already written a letter to Jim Fowler on Wild Kingdom and asked him to help me get a peregrine (he did answer but told me to get a redtail but I already had one). .Brewer and I ended up going out west in the 60's in search of prairie falcon eyasses. We got them, and that adventure is included in the 2000 NAFA Journal article about Shidler, my first big female gyrxperegrine. Mike caught lots of ducks in high style with his female prairie, Stormy, and I turned my prairie tiercel, Stoney, into a perfect 6 ft diameter, screaming ringer. I trained him to stoop the lure, and eventually he caught a bobwhite and another miscellaneous bird, before getting a bone through his crop in his second year and dying. My second tiercel prairie caught 25 bobwhites and 25 miscellaneous birds, so I like to think I learned a bit from my first longwing experience. From there, Mike and I went to beach birds and regularly catching lots of Okie ducks, and we joined Riddle sometimes on weekends when he could get a break from Vet School studies. 

 

 

What birds do you currently fly?

Usually gyrxperegrine hybrids, but nothing at present.

 

 

What birds have you flown in the past?

Redtails, kestrels, one sharpy imprint, one gos imprint, prairies, peregrines, both imprints and passage beach birds, gyrs, imprints and hacked, and gyrxperegrines, both imprints and hacked, and both sexes of all longwings above. 

 

 

What was your favorite bird and why?

I suppose one of my favorites was my roadrunner, Lyle (named after Lyle Lovett). I learned a lot from that little bird that grew up catching snakes and lizards; then there was ET, the little corella, that really belonged to my daughter, but was a family favorite. With regard to raptors, well my two favorite birds were the ones I wrote about in the NAFA Journals (2000 and 2001), Shidler, a large white female gyrxper, that I tame hacked in OK, and Moth, a darkish male gyrxper that I wild hacked in OK also, both of which I bred. Shidler took a long time (only 3 the first year) to learn to catch greater chickens, although she caught ducks from the very start in Wyoming,  Moth started off catching fall sharptails and chickens in South Dakota, and that made me happy. Both birds became very good at catching grouse and ducks, and they gave me many wonderful memories. At the present time I still have Shidler (hatched in 1986), albeit with only two toes on one foot after being electrocuted. Moth was killed, on a kill, by territorial redtails. Both birds were awesome, and they owned the sky when prey was flushed.

 

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly?

I like gyrxperegrines best for difficult quarry, but I like also straight peregrines including all subspecies, gyrs, and prairies. I really prefer to fly longwings myself, but I might fly another sharpie someday--great fun!!!! Or maybe a shrike or a taita.  Plus, I like to go out with anybody flying just about any species of raptor.

 

 

Favorite Quarry?

Greater Prairie Chickens; I consider these the most difficult quarry in the world to catch with a longwing. Lessers, sharptails, and sage grouse are also a challenge. I would love to spend some time hawking sand grouse in  Morocco or some other African country.

 

 

Do you have other animals?

One Jack Russell, two pointers, one shorthair, about 100 homers, and two giant Aldabra Tortoises weighing 150-200lbs each.

 

 

Favorite falconry story?

I probably told them already in the 2000 or 2001 NAFA Journal Articles. The story of the Indian Chief will always be one of my favorites.  I also like the description of my favorite stoop that was published in The Game Bag, 2008, an offshoot of the California Hawking Club.This describes an awesome stoop from out of sight by one of my white jerkins on a sage grouse under point by my old pointer, Sis. You had to be there, but it was akin to a shoulder mounted rocket--awesome! Ken Riddle and I both had the pleasure of witnessing this event.

 

 

Funniest falconry story?

 See above. Probably the one that left my cowboy hat floating on top of the water.

 

 

Favorite quote?

 "A fat hawk maketh for a lean horse and a weary falconer." King Fred II

 

 

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?

Remember to always treasure your bird and that if anything happens to it, it is your fault/responsiblity. Stay legal, and take the high road, aspiring to practice the highest quality hawking of which you are capable. Falconry competition is between you and yourself, not others. The bird is what you make it.

 

 

Who have you sponsored?

I am not able to give adequate time to this anymore. Gwen McKee, Paul Kaufman, Deb Stone, Ryan VanZant

 

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?

 Just to keep flying and to keep enjoying it, and to stay in good health so I can do this.

 

 

Contact Info you want public? 

blackjess1@aol.comblackjess15@gmail.com

 

 

Social Networks?

I guess I am an old man and am not really into social networks; I would rather meet someone in person and get to know them a bit face to face. I don't really have a lot of free time right now, but I hope to be hawking again in about a year.

Name?  

Robert Lee Rainey

 

How long have you been an OFA member?  

Since the mid ‘80’s.

 

Positions in OFA?  

President Elect, and President.

 

 

Where do you live?  

Edmond, Oklahoma.

 

 

Job or School?  

Partner in Oklahoma City Law Firm.

 

 

Family?  

Three daughters, Sarah, Amanda, and Robin, and spouse Carilyn.

 

 

What got you interested in falconry?  

A combination of watching the movie, My Side of the Mountain (1969) and creating outdoor mischief and mayhem with my partner in crime, Mitch Wishon.

 

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)  

Howard Stutte sponsored me, and Mitch Wishon really helped me on the day to day stuff. Mitch’s innate, intuitive falconry skills are nothing short of amazing.

 

 

What birds do you currently fly?  

Female North American Goshawk.

 

 

What birds have you flown in the past?  

My fair share of long and short wings.

 

 

What was your favorite bird and why?  

They were all pretty amazing and challenging, but I would have to say that I find the accipiters to be the most versatile and the most challenging while being the most appropriate for our prey base in central Oklahoma. See article below.

 

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly?  

Primarily accipiters for the immediate future, and would really like to fly a female Aplomado (a “goshawk in falcon clothing”).

 

 

Favorite Quarry?  

Goshawk flights on crows and ducks.

 

 

Do you have other animals?  

Hungarian Viszla and Devon hairless cat, nicknamed “Hawk Bait.”

 

 

Favorite falconry story?  

 

FALCONERS DEVELOP SPECIAL RAPPORT WITH RAPTORS

BY DAVID ZIZZO

Published: February 8, 2009

 

Greg Stipp, with the Oklahoma Falconer's Association, pets Sadie, a 1-year-old hybrid falcon that was hatched in Oklahoma, during the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla., August 25, 2006. By Matt Strasen

As Rob Rainey walked in a field near a row of homes recently, his hunting partner was closing in on a quail when he turned sharply and crashed into a plate-glass window.

"He died doing what he loved,” Rainey said.

Whinge was a Finnish goshawk, and hunting is what a bird of prey’s world is all about. Rainey, as a falconer qualified and licensed to work with raptors, gets to be a part of it.

Falconers must keep their birds in top condition, learn their tendencies and earn their trust, then help them find prey and set up conditions so the birds can do what they were meant to do.

"It’s a pretty awesome feeling,” Rainey said.

Rainey, 48, an Edmond attorney, is one of about 70 falconers in Oklahoma and about 4,000 in North America.

His interest in nature’s flying weapons, like that of many falconers, began when he was young. At age 8, Rainey saw the movie "My Side of the Mountain,” about a boy surviving in the wild and training a falcon.

Rainey and a friend in their north Edmond rural neighborhood found baby barred owls in a nest and raised them. The boys fed the birds dog food and tried their best, he said. But they knew nothing of falconry, and the birds flew off as soon as they were able.

"We failed miserably,” Rainey recalled.

Rainey searched out the few books available on the subject and finally located a mentor: a high school coach who was a falconer. Today, Rainey is a master falconer, the highest and most experienced rating.

Falconers handle all types of raptors, mostly hawks.

For Oscar Pack, an eagle falconer from Yukon, there’s nothing like the big birds.

"They’re the top of the line in the bird world,” Pack said. "They’re just a majestic bird. Their size alone makes them pretty unique.”

Pack’s raptor fascination also began when he was young. Pack and a friend took a baby hawk from a nest.

"We raised it and played with it until it got away from us,” he recalled.

Today, Pack, a master falconer, has a special rapport with Mina, his 3-year-old golden eagle. Raised at the American Eagle Foundation in Tennessee, Mina was released into the wild but was almost electrocuted when she landed on a power line, a common fate for raptors. Mina lost only one toe on her left foot, and she was nursed back to health, winding up in Pack’s experienced hands. Although weakened in one foot, she can still crush a jackrabbit in her talons.

Raptors raised in captivity are different from those in the wild. They imprint on their handlers, and "they think they’re humans,” Rainey said. They have yet to learn how to hunt and kill, and they often go through a period of juvenile aggression. Raptors caught in the wild already know how to hunt, and they’re usually past the incorrigible stage.

"They’re very trainable,” Rainey said.

Designed by nature for speed and killing, they do it with efficiency and grace, a deadly beautiful combination that can be appreciated by all who are lucky enough to see them perform.

"It was more than I expected, seeing the falconers and the birds of prey work together,” Philip Pippin said after watching several falconers and their birds in action.

Pippin accompanied a troop of Boy Scouts he helps lead on a recent hunt near Arcadia conducted by Rainey, Pack and other falconers.

"You just hear this pop,” Pippin marveled of the moment a raptor, which can top 200 mph in a "stoop,” or dive, strikes its prey.

"I thought it was fabulous.”

Falconers realize their animals are not pets, Rainey said. "These are hunting animals.”

Still, training requires formation of deep bonds between falconer and raptor based on food and trust, so falconers grow close to their birds. This makes the loss of one, such as Whinge, who Rainey said is still "with me in spirit,” so difficult.

"It’s pretty devastating,” he said.

"It’s not losing a kid, but it’s pretty near.”

THE OKLAHOMAN | NEWSOK.COM

 

 

 

Funniest falconry story?

Mitch and I were out late one day terrorizing birds with my Tiercel Finnish Goshawk, and he fell into a 18 foot deep crevice between a false brick wall at a local carwash, all in pursuit of a pigeon. We had no idea where he was or what happened. We just knew he had not flown off. Ultimately,  Mitch offered and did retrieve an extension ladder from his home, climbed up 18 feet, stuck our heads between the roof and steel girder, all with pigeon crap everywhere, and looked 18 feet down to discovery the poor Goshawk at the bottom of this 8 inch wide crevice, wondering had happened. To make matters worse, there were still pigeons in there, laughing at him and me. I actually considered ramming my car hitch into the brick wall to knock a hole, all in an attempt to get my bird back.

 Of course, cooler heads prevailed (mainly Mitch’s), and he suggested skinning the Gos’s previous kill, attaching it to the lure, hope the lure line was long enough, and that he was not too injured, or too fat to attach himself to the lure and be dragged up. Luckily, it worked great, and out he came, absolutely unfazed and undamaged. I’ve not had this happen before, so it was a little traumatic.

 

 

Favorite quote?  

Frank Beebe’s admonition: “Never let the obsession of Falconry interfere with Family.”

 

 

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?  

Find and commit to the best sponsor you can, and don’t settle for a long distance relationship, if at all possible.

 

 

Who have you sponsored? 

 Lauren McGough, Adam Deem, and Kelly Smith (in that order).

 

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?  

To become consistently successful at all manner of game with a Goshawk, while avoiding windows, autos, West Nile, seizures, etc. 

 

Social Networks?  

LinkedIn and Facebook.

 

 

Anything Else?  

I am thankful for our forward thinking and hardworking OFA Officers for making OFA the best she can be! I’m thankful to people like Mitch Wishon, Oscar Pack, Jere Korthanke, Greg Stipp, Steve Sherrod, Ken Riddle, and many others who go out of their way to not only help me and others elevate the practice of Falconry, but do their best not to make too much fun of me.

ame?

Adam Deem


How long have you been an OFA member?

 1 Year

 

Positions in OFA?

 None Yet

 

Where do you live?

North Oklahoma City

 

Job or School?

 I am currently serving in the US Navy and I am stationed at Tinker AFB

 

Family? 

One amazing wife, Shelby

 

What got you interested in falconry?

I watched a special on Monster Quest in which some giant bird was carrying young children away. That had me interested about falconry instantly and I immediately started researching it all over the net.

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)

 Rob Rainey is my sponsor and he has taught me some pretty amazing things, but I would not be half the falconer one can become in a little over a year without the subtle help and guidance from the hawk whisperer Mitch Wishon.

 

What birds do you currently fly?

I am currently birdless but I plan to correct that situation as soon as August arrives, hopefully with a nice big female American Kestrel that doesn’t scream. (For the sake of my marriage)

 

What birds have you flown in the past?

I have flown one female Kestrel who did amazing on Starlings and one male Red Tail that absolutely loved/loathed Crows.

 

What was your favorite bird and why?

 I had a blast with the two birds I have flown but the Kestrel was definitely my favorite so far…

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly?

I hope to fly big long wings one day starting with a Prairie falcon or maybe a Cooper’s hawk depending on where the Navy sends me next. I also hope to one day have the joy of flying Sharpies.

 

Favorite Quarry?

Probably Starlings just for the sheer number that can be caught with a "cute" little Kestrel, but watching my Red Tail from this past season pour on the speed passionately chasing Crows is hard to beat.

 

Do you have other animals?

We have a dog that seems to be forever interested in the bird that constantly swats her nose. 

 

Favorite falconry story?

Just about any story that involves Mitch, Rob, and myself is bound to be a good time. Pigeon trapping with those guys is something that cannot be described with words; it is something however that should be experienced by all.

 

Funniest falconry story?

I was still in my pre-apprentice stage and decided to bring my loving wife along with Rob and me to go night hawking with Rob’s goshawk to catch nuisance birds. During the course of the night we ran amuck like crazy people trying to get the birds to leave their roost and move to draw the goshawk’s attention. It was quite funny to see us running around screaming and trying to keep track of the hawk. At one point we lost track of the hawk and then saw him land. He decided to land on a PT Cruiser stopped at a traffic light. Rob hurried over to the bird but of course didn’t make it in time and the light changed. As the light changed the PT Cruiser drove away with the Goshawk riding comfortably on the roof rack. We franticly chased after the car and watched it disappear. After a long telemetry drill in between buildings we found Rob’s bird sitting contently in a tree. Rob will never forget this story as long as I am around.

 

Favorite quote?

 "What, are you not going to share your pie with me?"

    -Rob Rainey 

 

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?

Be sure this is something you are committed to. Go out with anyone and everyone you can, and when you do this listen to what they have to say because they say it for a reason. This is HUNTING not pet keeping, Petsmart will sell you a lovely parakeet if you want a pet bird.

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?

 To fly every bird I have to the best of its ability even when I don't want to go out.

 

Contact Info you want public?

  adamdeem627@gmail.com

 

 Social Networks?

 facebook

Name?

Jake Sutton

 

How long have you been an OFA member?

As an apprentice, I have been a member for one and a half years. 

 

Where do you live?

On a 9 acre hobby farm in Yukon.

 

Job or School?

I've have been homeschooled my whole life and will be a Senior in the fall.  I work part time in our family manufacturing business and raise cattle with my brothers.

 

 Family?

I live with my parents and two younger brothers.  Our grandparents also live here on the farm.

 

 What got you interested in falconry?

From a very young age, I have loved birds and even have kept a log of all bird species I've seen since the age of 7.  Two years ago, I attended the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo and was introduced to falconry.  I was instantly hooked! 

 

 Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)

Mr. Mitch Wishon is my sponsor.  Mr. John Peaden, Mr. Jeff Byrum, Mr. Rob Rainey, and Dr. Ken Riddle have also been a great help to me. 

 

 What birds do you currently fly? 

A few months ago I released my first bird, an American Kestrel named Viator.  I am currently without a bird but plan on trapping a Red Tail this season.

 

 What birds have you flown in the past?

Just Viator

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly? 

After watching experienced falconers flying many types of raptors, I believe I would enjoy falcons the most.  Specifically I would like to try a Prairie Falcon.

 

 Favorite Quarry?

Starlings are the only thing my little Kestrel killed so I would have to say Starlings.

 

 Do you have other animals? 

 I was worried this question would be on here.  Here we go...  We have three Golden Retrievers, five horses, six dairy goats, eighteen chickens, three pigs and one steer (recently wrapped in freezer paper).  Ten more steers will be delivered this week for my brothers and I to raise.  Personally, I own a Quarter Horse named Red.

 

Funniest falconry story? 

Some of the best times I have had in falconry have been on hunts with Mr. Wishon and Mr. Rainey.  The most memorable one was in a small town looking for Mr. Rainey's goshawk.  He had just gone out the window at a pigeon but missed and flew off.  Parking the car and grabbing the telemetry the search began.  After a few minutes, it was determined that he was perched on the roof of the town bank.  Here we were in camo clothing running around the bank whistling and yelling for the bird.  I was sure this would be the first time I saw the inside of a jail cell.  My only comfort was that Mr. Rainey is an attorney.  Thankfully, we recovered the bird (not on the bank roof) and got out of town fast.

 

Favorite quote?

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master." Earnest Hemingway

 

 What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?

Be patient. Time is the only thing that will make you and your bird work well as a team.

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?

Falconry is just part of who I am now. I hope to always have the time to invest in this sport. 

 

Social Networks?

 I have a falconry blog that contains the full story of my apprenticeship.  I started it the day I got Viator.  I have tried to make it a source of information for other apprentices or those who wish to learn more about the sport.  http://apprenticefalconer.blogspot.com/

Name

Ken Riddle


How long have you been an OFA member?

 I don’t know.  I have been an Oklahoma falconer since 1951.  After I joined OFA I allowed my membership to lapse at least 3 times over the years as I moved around between Texas, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and Doha, Qatar.

 

Positions in OFA?

 President Elect

 

Where do you live?

North Central Osage County

 

Job or School?

 I am a retired Veterinarian holding several consultant positions.

 

My Family? 

A talented and amazing wife Rebecca ; Children – Allan 50, Cyndi 48, Marcy 42, James  26, and Amanda 24 - all co-participants and helpers during my life-long pursuit of falconry.

 

What got you interested in falconry?

At 10 years of age I was under correctional detention in the library study hall (recess period for others) due to poor grades in English class.  Instead of studying English grammar I sat on the floor at the back of the library day after day thumbing through old National Geographic magazines in chronological order.  My daydreaming perusal of the magazine came to a life-changing finale when I picked up the 1920 issue and “feasted’ on an article entitled “Falconry the Sport of Kings” by Louis Agassiz Fuertes.  It really wasn’t a “finale” but rather a prelude to a life-long pursuit of the art of falconry.

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)

 Sometime during the summer two years after the National Geographic incident I met my mentor. I had already failed (except to keep my “pet birds” alive) with my first hawks, a Broadwinged hawk and a Kestrel.  I had been corresponding with the proprietor of Hecht Book shop in St. Louis, MO. who had sold me a copy of Observations on Modern Falconry for $1.25.  Mr. Hecht was growing weary of my recurring questions concerning the nuts and bolts of falconry.  Finally came his simple game-changing reply: “I am not a falconer! Please contact Mr. Fred Casler who lives near you in Broken Arrow.  He is an accomplished falconer with many years experience”.  You can only imagine my excitement when my 3rd phone call resulted in an invitation to visit him at his ranch (now the land upon which Union High School stands), and his disclosure that he had two passage peregrines, a falcon and a tiercel.  My mother drove me there in our 51 Mercury Montery.

Fred Casler was the owner of the Tulsa Aero Exploration Company and was our first Oklahoma falconer. He was a great mentor from the “old school”, teaching sound falconry ethics and promoting conservation of raptors through falconry presentations at civic meetings, ornithological groups and local schools. Fred handled and flew his birds with perfection, made his own swivels, bells, and bell dyes, and made beautiful hand-tooled Indian Canon hoods.  He refused to sell his wares, stating that he would then be “working for the falconers who bought them”, and instead gave them as gifts to friends and fellow falconers.  Every Christmas Fred mailed a gift box containing a special – made hood, a new swivel, and two pairs of bells to his many falconry friends.  The gifts were nicely displayed in a jewelry-store box with clear plastic top.  Fred was a master falconer in every sense of the word, with one exception.  Although he had over 50 years experience hunting with a variety of hawks, eagles and falcons, he had only hawked one head of wild game with the passage peregrines he annually trapped on Padre Island with Col. Luff Meredith and others. We all owe a debt of gratitude to those old falconers of the mid 19th century who paved the way for future American falconers by accumulating a working body of knowledge and experience upon which younger falconers could build and develop our hunting sport.

 

What birds have you flown in the past?

I have flown many birds including buteos, accipiters, owls of different species, and both wild and

 captive-raised falcons. Notable are a Cooper’s Hawk, a German Goshawk, a number of passage peregrines, passage sakers, passage barbaries and red-naped shaheens and some wonderful red-naped shaheen x Gyr and Gyr x Peregrines, several Gyrfalcons, and one gyrkin.

 

What was your favorite bird and why?

 That is a very difficult question to answer because each of the notable birds above were superb, giving me all that could have been asked for in terms of quality athletic hunting experience.  Now, having to choose one favorite, I guess it would be Libra, a passage peregrine taken on the Texas Gulf coast in 1970.  She was an “adrenaline pusher” and developed into a first rate duck hawk her first year.  She also caught two prairie chickens her first year when I could get away from University for some classical game hawking.  Most notable, Libra responded flawlessly to commands and was very steady, allowing me to begin training her on thermal flights as a passage bird.  Eventually many of her flights lasted over an hour, often near 2 hours and mostly out of sight.  Her first 2 years she was flown without telemetry.  Libra was also flown by Mike Brewer in the same style for several years while I finished a residency program in Georgia. Her style continued to improve throughout that time and continued to thrill me and others with her finesse until her sudden death at the age of over 12 years. That kind of relationship generates a lasting favoritism.

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly?

At this stage of my life I am happy to fly the best long wing I can get my hands on.  Later on I would like to fly passage Cooper’s hawks on “miscellaneous”.

 

Favorite Quarry?

Again a difficult question because a favorite quarry in one location might be substituted for another in a different habitat and locale.  Power flights on ringing quarry, and fast flying game from the fist are the most difficult and require the ultimate in a falcon’s physical conditioning.  These flights leave the falconer standing breathlessly on the ground while the chase develops high overhead.  The most exciting of those chases involved short-eared owls, gulls, and houbara bustard, however most flights on houbara are of an inferior nature due to the annoying habit of the quarry dropping to the ground to fight. If the falcon is beaten in the air it is an immediate rebuke of the apparent physical conditioning program.  Having said all the above I think duck hawking offers the most versatility and interesting style of the classical game hawking ventures I have witnessed or practiced.  Flights can be set up that are extremely difficult and long-lasting, pitting the falcon against almost unbelievable odds yet they may overcome and take quarry in exhilarating style and do it consistently.  Of course one has to titrate difficulty against more favorable odds from time to time to achieve consistency in success and style.

 

Do you have other animals?

We have a Jack Russell Terrier. Lucy does her best to participate in duck hawking and is an excellent hunting companion.

 

Favorite falconry story?

I have recounted several stories in my book although I don’t really have a favorite of the many that have occurred over the years.

 

Funniest falconry story?

 In addition to one or two humorous stories in my book I have dredged up a few more.  Some poke fun at me, and some recount humorous incidents involving those I have hawked and worked with.

 I was once hawking ducks in Stillwater, Oklahoma with a dark  intermewed passage peregrine named Bittersweet. My college roommate, a birder and a friend of Mike Brewer, (both from Pauls Valley, OK) was with me to help flush.  We had “jumped the fence” to hawk on unknown land and I was150 yards away crouched below the dam while he circled wide.  Just then the local Game Warden drove up and stopped, got out of his truck, and motioned for me to approach.  I was immediately “weak kneed” and my falcon’s bells beckoned from above.  I hurried to within earshot where-upon the warden asked my name.  Without thinking I blurted out the first thing that came to mind “John Sterling” (anything but Ken Riddle) and then told him that I needed to get my falcon down.  He then turned on his heel and strode towards my roommate, overtaking him within minutes.  My roommate recounted the rest of the story.  ‘The game warden asked him for his name, and when he said “John Sterling” the warden said “Ok wise guy, you are going to the station for questioning.  The other guy said his name was John Sterling’.  John spent an hour and a half at the Stillwater police station answering questions.  In the meantime I collected Bittersweet and went home to study.  John Sterling currently lives in Pauls Valley, is an avid and well-known birder and is still mad at me over the above incident.

John Hoolihan, my technician and an accomplished falconer spent 1 ½ hours imping-in a new and complete tail in a female F.p. callidus.  The sheikh was partial to this falcon as she had developed into an exceptional bird.  He was thrilled to see her with new tail feathers and left the falcon hospital with glowing praise for John’s workmanship.  The next morning the same falcon was admitted with the following complaint. “The sheikh is very angry!  Last night he flew her to the lure from the desert floor to a high sand dune ridge.  As she made the 400-meter flight, tail feathers began to fall out and spiral to the ground. By the time she reached the lure, all the tail feathers were gone”!  Upon close examination, stumps of clean bamboo were sticking out of the base of tail feather shafts.  John had forgotten to apply 5-minute epoxy to the bamboo splints!

This one is not funny but true.  It illuminates some problems that can occur when unscrupulous or careless falconers engage wild falcons.  Fred Casler, Dan Slowe and me were trapping peregrines on Padre Island in 1961.  On the second or third day we picked up a beautiful passage female with a broken tibio-fibula.  Her toe was noosed and attached to a leather harness. The dragline securing that harness was weighted with a heavy sledgehammer head.  It was obvious why her leg was broken.  That morning we had encountered a car on the beach driven by longhaired falcon trappers.  The car had California license plates. 

The next morning I was out placing two dozen falcon silhouettes on sand dune tops and obvious driftwood perches. Some resembled haggards but most were in passage plumage.  We never saw the California car again, however we did see quite a number of donut tire tracks in the vicinity of the silhouettes and some of the cardboard “signs” were missing. Fred flew the falcon in his Cessna to his home in Tulsa and paid to have her leg set.  He released her several months later.

Favorite quote?

 “Everything worth doing is worth doing well.  In falconry there is no middle course.  Its charm lies in its hazards, in the beauty and character of the birds themselves, in the marvelous qualities with which Nature has endowed them, and in the art of our control over one of the wildest and proudest of living creatures”.   Gilbert Blain, 1936

 

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?

Dedicate yourself to self-criticism, learn from your mistakes, and be patient to the perfection of the art.

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?

 To fly every bird to the best of my ability and to give each bird a broad experience-base so as to fulfill its greatest potential.

 

Anything else?

Over the past 5 decades I have practiced falconry in 4 states and 7 countries.  In each case I have compared the quality of falconry being practiced in Oklahoma with that of the status quo in other lands.  There is no question that Oklahoma falconry has continued to produce exceptional quality falconers and hunting flights of excellent style; from classical game hawking, to flights from the fist, duck-hawking from thermals, and hawking fur and feather with accipiter, buteos and eagles.  I am very proud of this heritage.  Okie falconry continues to be a credit to a fine and ancient field sport and falconers around the world know it.

Contact Info you want public?

   gyr.barbary@yahoo.com

 

 Social Networks?

 facebook

Name? 

David Eslicker

 

How long have you been an OFA member? 

I believe since the early to mid 1970s.  I am not really sure if it was officially OFA then or not.

 

Positions in OFA? 

Recently, vice-president.  I held an office a long time ago, but I do not remember what it was.

 

Where do you live? 

 Outside of Bartlesville.

 

 Job or School? 

Dermatologist.

  

Family? 

Wife Sandy of 29 years and twin sons Ryan and Scott, 26 years old.

 

What got you interested in falconry? 

I spent my early childhood close to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary where my grandfather volunteered his time.  This established an early affair with birds, especially raptors.  After moving to Oklahoma I met a falconer when I was 15 years old and have flown birds ever since.

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?) 

My early influences were guys that got into falconry while we were in high school in Tulsa.  Dave Parker, Mark Waller, Jeff Byrum, and Kevin Leggett were a few of the people that helped me along the way.  In the early 80's Steve Sherrod became a positive influence on my captive bred longwinging career.  Recently, I consider a former apprentice to have a positive influence on my falconry.  When not talking, Scott Dillon with his enthusiasm and optimistic attitude helps keep things entertaining. 

 

What birds do you currently fly? 

This season I will be starting a tiercel gyr/peregrine.

 

What birds have you flown in the past? 

I have flown Red tails, American Kestrels, Cooper's Hawks, North American and Finnish Goshawks, a European Sparrowhawk, Prairies, Peregrines, Barbaries, Merlins, and hybrids of the above longwings.

  

What was your favorite bird and why? 

I have always suffered from wanting to fly every bird possible.  My favorite bird is always the next bird I will be flying.  If forced to pick a past favorite it would be a tiercel gyr/peregrine (marcropus).  Spade was the one bird I formed the closest relationship with.  I certainly had the most detailed and thought out plan of attack prior to his training.  I think I was more disciplined with his training and hunting than any bird I had previously flown.  He responded beautifully and took high pitches while bagging many ducks and prairie chickens the few years I got to enjoy him.  Truth be known he would have probably flown just as well with another falconer or with another training program.  Who am I kidding, it had to be me.

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly? 

I plan on flying small accipiters in the near future.  I would still like to fly small falcons waiting on over small birds.  I have not had much success attempting this where I live.  The agriculture fields are pretty much gone from this part of the state and the cover is just too much to deal with.  So, small accipiters have me interested presently.

  

Favorite Quarry? 

Quail, lesser prairie chickens, huns, ducks, probably in that order.

 

Do you have other animals? 

A loft of homers, a beagle, and a vizsla.

 

 Favorite falconry story? 

I was flying Spade on a beautiful winter morning in Kansas.  He was taking a good pitch when the chickens inexplicably left the field several hundred yards in front of me.  Spade never stooped and was now gaining pitch with great excitement.  Fortunately my dog points a stray bird several minutes later.  Spade comes down from straight over head as the chicken flushes.  He knocked it unconscious or killed it dead in the stoop, throws up and lazily winnowed down onto the chicken.  The two falconers in the group are standing over the kill with me discussing the flight when the non-falconer in our group walks up.  He says "That bird looked like the finger of God sent down from heaven to strike down a sinner."  I would have never looked at it like that.

 

Funniest falconry story? 

About 20 years ago I met a friend in very rural Montana for a week of hawking.  The night I arrived was beautiful calm and warm.  My buddy had a wall tent all set up for us when I got there.  He had set it up a half mile from the landowner’s house because he was concerned about all the cats with snot running out of their noses around the house.  The next morning it was blowing bad and had turned cold.  The landowner drove in to camp and we asked him where his 2 boys were that we had met the night before.  He said they would be along after they finished picking up cats.  Sure enough they drove up about 30 minutes later with over a hundred dead cats in the bed of their truck.  The landowner said it happens every fall with the first cold snap.  We guessed it was distemper, but never really looked in to it further.  That night in camp I asked the landowner if I could use his phone to let my family know I had made it OK.  He told me fine and where to find the phone in the kitchen.  I walked through the mudroom full of overflowing kitty litter boxes and into the kitchen.  A Rottweiler charged me and hit the end of a chain less than 2 feet from me.  He neglected to tell me about the dog on a logging chain that was attached to a 1 inch rod driven through the kitchen floor into the ground below.  It was barking, growling, and foaming at the mouth as I was pinned against the kitchen wall.  I scooted over to the phone on the wall and called my wife.  I convinced her I was ok and went back to camp.  My friend asked if I reached her and said he better go do the same.  I told him where the phone was in the kitchen.  He returned about 15 minutes later looking a little agitated.  He assured me his wife and family were fine.  The landowner announced that he was going home for the evening.  As soon as we heard his truck door slam shut it started.  I was called more names over the next 30 seconds than I had been called in my entire life.  We agreed that it was the most scared (startled) either of us had ever been.  I have learned over the years that trust is a difficult thing to win back.

Favorite quote?

 "The easiest part of falconry is telling my buddies that their birds are too fat, while the most difficult part of falconry is figuring out that my own bird is too fat"  Some dumb falconer from Bartlesville with 40 years of experience that has to admit to this each and every season.

 

 What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?   

Do not get caught up in competition amongst falconers.  The style of your flights and your bird will suffer.  Every time you turn your bird loose ask yourself "Is this the best thing I can do for my bird today."  The most enjoyment you can have in the sport is when the plan all comes together.  For that to happen you must understand the natural history of all the players.  Spend as much time studying the natural history of your prey as you do studying the natural history of your raptor.

 

Who have you sponsored? 

Rod Smith and Scott Dillon

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience? 

Keep at it.  It is more fun now than it used to be.  That is probably because I have figured out that I am not a smart as I used to be - just wiser.

 

Contact Info you want public?

dslicker@hotmail.com

918-440-1591

Name?

Eric Pribil

 

How long have you been an OFA member?

Since 2006

 

Positions in OFA?

Secretary 2008-2010

 

Where do you live?

Alva, OK

 

Job or School?

I am currently a senior in Biology and Chemistry at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

 

Family?

I have a falconry supportive mom and dad in Edmond, OK and a twin brother who is a senior at Oklahoma State University.

 

What got you interested in falconry?

I first became interested in falconry when I met Tim Gillum. My dad was one of Tim's clients and Tim used to invite him out to watch him fly his birds. That was my first exposure to falconry. I then became more interested in it when Jere Korthanke got his license and trapped his first Red Tail. We were neighbors when I lived in Edmond so I was around him a lot when he was training his first bird.

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)

My sponsor was Jere Korthanke. I have also had a lot of falconry excursions with Rob Rainey and Mitch Wishon.

 

What birds do you currently fly?

I currently fly a first year passage female prairie.

 

What birds have you flown in the past?

I have flown Red-tails, Kestrels, a GyrxPeregrine hybrid, a Harris’ Hawk, and another passage Prairie falcon.

 

What was your favorite bird and why?

My favorite bird to fly was a passage female Prairie falcon that I flew three years ago. It was my first big longwing that I had flown and she was a lot of fun when I had duck ponds near where I lived. I learned a lot by flying her 

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly?

 In the future I would like to fly another Gyr-Peregrine hybrid and a passage Peregrine at some point.

 

Favorite Quarry?

My favorite quarry to fly with a longwing is ducks and my favorite quarry to fly with a hawk is jack rabbits.

 

Do you have other animals?

I have a female border collie mix.

 

Favorite falconry story?

I was flying my passage Prairie "Peanut" one morning on ducks and I had put her up over a long narrow pond with a flock of ring-necks and gadwalls on it. A friend of mine was with me that morning. I put her up and waited for her to get into position. We flushed the pond and she came down and knocked a ring-neck down into the water. After the hit she re-mounted over us. I had lost sight of her for a moment but I could still hear her bell above us so we kept trying to flush the duck again. The guy that was with me wasn't paying attention to where Peanut was when the duck flushed low off the end of the pond right past him. Peanut came past him and hit the duck again and bound to it about 10 feet away.

 

Funniest falconry story?

I was squirrel hawking one morning with Jere Korthanke. We had had quite a bit of snow the night before and it was about 15 degrees. Jere was flying his Red-Tail "Belle" who was a great squirrel hawk. We had her up in a tree chasing a couple of squirrels but she kind of changed her focus and it looked like she was looking across the pond. We stopped to see what she was going to do because she was definitely locked onto something. She took off from the tree and when she got over it she did a wing-over and bound to a duck.  The duck and was bouncing around in the water like a bobber as it tried to dive with the hawk in tow. Jere and I both took off running to help her out. I got there first and went into the water to retrieve her and bring them to the shore. She never let the duck go until Jere traded her off but Belle and I were both ended up really cold and wet that morning.

 

Favorite quote?

Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom - Thomas Jefferson

 

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?

For someone new to the sport I would say that it is important to be sure that you can make the commitment to the bird that you are flying. Not having the time to fly a bird or having a bird that is not suitable for your schedule or where you live is doing an injustice to the bird. This goes more toward people who are interested in the sport than it does new apprentices but if you think that it is something that you are interested in it is important to show dedication and commitment. Spend as much time as you can with falconers in the field because the experiences that you’ll have in the field are important to learning all aspects of falconry.

 

Who have you sponsored?

Nick Parker

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?

My goal in falconry is to enjoy the sport and to continuously learn from my experiences and from the other falconers that I am around. Each bird that you fly is different and can be its own challenge and reward.

 

Contact Info you want public?

hawker08@flash.net

Name?

Jere Korthanke

 

How long have you been an OFA member?

since 2003

 

Where do you live?

North of Edmond

 

Job or School?

Oklahoma City Fire Department

I have been a firefighter since 1989

 

Family?

Married to Joan, also a falconer. We have a son Jason who is married to Jessica and a grand-daughter, River Ann. They live North of Edmond also.

 

What got you interested in falconry?

When I was 14, in Kansas, I raised a red tail and returned it to the wild. I have been hooked ever since but didn’t have the time or the contacts to pursue the sport.

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)

My sponsor is John Rule.   Mitch Wishon probably has had as big an influence on me as anyone but all the Oklahoma falconers I have met and flown with have been very helpful throughout my journey.

 

What birds do you currently fly?

Red-tailed Hawk

 

What birds have you flown in the past?

 Red tails, Goshawk, Kestrel, and Harris’ hawks.

 

What was your favorite bird and why?

A female red tail named Belle. I had more fun and firsts with her than any others. She was awesome.

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly?

I do want to get into the duck hawking game when I retire and would like to fly an Oklahoma trapped Peregrine.

 

Favorite Quarry?

Favorite is car hawking Crow with a red tail. Most exciting are squirrel and jack rabbit. I guess that means I don't really have a favorite.

 

Do you have other animals?

I have always had dogs and horses but have neither right now.

 

Favorite falconry story?

I was hunting in Kansas at my parents’ home with 2 beagles and Belle. The beagles found an opossum in a log and pushed it up a tree, before I could get Belle back to the glove she nailed the opossum in a fork in the tree. Lucky for me and Belle they were not high in the tree and I was able to get them both down and traded Belle off the beast.

  

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?

Don’t get in a hurry. Listen to your sponsor.

 

Who have you sponsored?

Joan Korthanke, Eric Pribil, and Scott White

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?

I like trying new things I’m not sure what is in store for me.

 

Contact Info you want public?

jerejoan@att.net

 

Social Networks?

Facebook

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