How to Become a Falconer
If you decide to become a falconer . . . KEEP IT LEGAL AND KEEP IT HUMANE - YOU ARE SETTING AN EXAMPLE. Legitimate falconers will be the first to call attention to any illegal activities regarding their sport and their cherished birds. We will protect and preserve our sport - our way of life - from being damaged by the loss of confidence by authorities and bad publicity that law-breakers and mar-hawks can generate.
Most of the material, paraphrased below, is from an information sheet published by the North American Falconers' Association in 1988.
To begin with one must ask the question "Do I really want to become a falconer?" You may have read about this ancient art in a book or periodical, learned about it through television or radio, perhaps a movie, or you may have even seen a trained hawk in action. Whatever the case, you were obviously impressed enough to want to learn more about the sport of falconry.
Few people, thrilled at the sight of a trained hawk in flight realize what demands are placed on those who aspire to be a falconer. Even fewer are willing to make the stringent sacrifices and long-term demands of time, effort and money. The media often sensationalizes falconry, because the sport can be exciting to watch, and carries with it the intrigues of antiquity. But public media frequently are inaccurate in their representation of what it takes to be a falconer.
Of all sports in America, falconry is the only one that utilizes a trained wild creature. Falcons, hawks, eagles and owls are essential elements of our wildlife. The competent falconer takes care to follow sound conservation principles in the pursuit of the sport.
Even though the federal government's environmental impact assessment states falconry has "no impact" on wild raptor populations, a careless, uninformed individual, attempting to satisfy a passing fancy, can do great harm to one or more birds and cast the shadow of discredit on the sport itself. Most falconers, therefore, before they will agree to help anyone newly attracted to the sport, will require evidence of a serious, committed interest in falconry.
A serious commitment to becoming a falconer is often evidenced by an individual's ravenous appetite for literature on the sport, a sincere interest in all aspects of wildlife and the out-of-doors, and by a persistent effort to learn the many fundamentals of their art - all before obtaining a hawk.
If you are still convinced that your interest is more than casual and you are willing to undertake a study of falconry before getting a hawk, you must also be prepared to fulfill the additional requirements of becoming a falconer, including a period of apprenticeship.
Time and patience devoted solely to training and flying a hawk are among the most important demands. The trained hawk requires a minimum amount of time every day, 365 days a year. A bird in training requires substantially more time. Raptors, unlike a rifle or a bow, cannot be hung on the wall and neglected until the next hunting trip. If you cannot make the time to accommodate the hawk's needs for any reason, it is far better never to begin.
You must be able to provide food, shelter, equipment and transportation as a falconer. Hawks have very specific requirements for fresh, lean, raw meat. There are the housing and equipment requirements, most of them mandated by regulations that require metal, leather, lumber and the necessary tools, as well as your own skills in working with these materials, or the money to purchase them. A library of falconry related books is not required, but most falconers spend considerable amounts of money on books and falconry club memberships as a source of vital information and enjoyment. You must be able to travel - obtaining a hawk, visiting other falconers, and the training and flying of a hawk will put many miles on a vehicle.
Access to Land
You must have permission to enter adequate and convenient locations with sufficient game on which to fly a hawk. The short-winged hawks are best flown in the woodlots, hedgerows, and briar patches that make up their natural habitat. The falcons, or long-wings, require wide open expanses of land where they may be flown high over the falconer. Areas that are gun-hunted may render an otherwise suitable location unusable because of the potential threat to the safety of the hawk.
Because all raptors are protected by federal and state laws, all potential falconers must obtain the necessary permits before obtaining a hawk or practicing falconry. There are other requirements that space does not permit to include here.
It is hoped, at least, that you now realize that the art and practice of hawking may not be learned overnight, or in a single lesson, but only after hard work and essentially devoting one's life to the subject. Whether or not you eventually become a falconer, it is hoped that you will retain a friendly interest in birds of prey, their conservation, and the sport of falconry.
What Do I Do Next?
The next step is to write or phone the state wildlife agency for copies of Oklahoma's current falconry regulations and permit application forms and procedures.
To request the current state regulations write to:
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
1801 North Lincoln
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
When you receive their information, study the regulations carefully and further consider if you want to continue your interest in the sport while meeting the many stringent requirements to become licensed.
Once you have completed all the necessary steps, and you think you are ready to take the plunge, contact one of our coordinators. They will ask you for a short biography to present to prospective sponsors. Good luck in your journey and enjoy the flight!
Gilsleider Ed, DVM website
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Paul Welch, DVM website
Forest Trails Animal Hospital
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Deseree Brown website
Meeker Animal Hospital
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Zac Coldiron website
Stoneridge Animal Hospital, PLLC
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Brian Pribil website
Pet Medical Center of Edmond
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Perry White, DVM website
Poteau Valley Veterinary Hospital
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Kimberly Huckaby, DVM website
Bent Arrow Veterinary Hospital
11318 E 91st St.
Broken Arrow OK 74012
Gayla Salvati, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT
Guthrie & Perry, OK.