What does it take to be a falconer? Why would someone want to do it. Isn't it easier just to pick squirrels off with a .22?
Falconry is not for everyone, of that there is no doubt. It takes considerable dedication to your birds and your sport. Falconry is one of the most highly regulated hunting sports out there, so taking it up cannot be taken lightly. But in the same breath, I will tell you that it is immensely frustrating but even more rewarding,
Like other field sports, it is important that all licensed falconers (and all falconers need to be licensed) practice their sport with the utmost integrity so that only good impressions are given to non falconers.
If it is something in which you are really interested, I recommend hooking up with your local falconry club. There are clubs and falconers in most states in the US, and simple Google searches will normally find them for you.
I'm reprinting a letter from the North Carolina Falconer's Guild. It takes time and consideration before someone can really do this.
Falconry is time consuming and it is a highly regulated sport. (see NCWRC and USFWS regulations)
The time spent in training a hunting bird is great. But this time factor pales in comparison to the daily time in providing for the hawk's comfort and care. Food must be of the most natural variety and is not something that you find at the local supermarket's pet section. Hunting birds must be handled, weighed, and looked after daily in order to be successful at catching game. The utmost attention must be paid towards their health and well being.
The legal aspects of becoming a licensed falconer would seem somewhat overwhelming to many. Because birds of prey are protected by Federal law, having one is highly regulated by both State and Federal regulations. These regulations were originally written in order to ensure that, by law, the birds would be adequately cared for and would indeed be hunted with and not merely a pet. Falconers feel very strongly about the regulations and their enforcement. New falconers are required to serve a two year apprenticeship under an experienced falconer, score 80% or better on a comprehensive test relating to falconry, raptor biology, and health care of the birds, and build housing (inspected by the state game officials) that meet set requirements.
This is not to say that becoming a falconer is impossible. But all of these difficult requirements help to insure that only people dedicated to practicing the sport in a quality way are likely to participate.
If after considering all of this, you still would like to learn more, click here.