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First time: Falconry

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by airmotive, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. airmotive

    airmotive Tin Kicker

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    So during Mrs. Airmotive and my holiday here in Ireland, we decided to visit the Ireland School of Falconry near Ashford Castle in County Mayo.

    I was expecting a lot of holding out my arm and letting big birds perch…and there was a lot of that.
    But the 90 minute “Hawk Walk” was so very much more. It was a hunting trip with your own raptors through game-filled woods and fields.

    However…first: instruction.
    We were each issued a Harris Hawk. Mine: a 3 year old male; wifey’s: a 5 year old female. Each had small jingle bells tied to their legs to aid in tracking them during the hunt. The Harris Hawk is unique among the bird world in that they hunt in packs, like wolves. And we, the handlers, were quickly adopted as part of the hunting pack. Actually, we were little more than dumb bird dogs for the hawks…as they followed us from the tree tops, waiting for us to kick up game for them to kill. Occasionally swooping down and flying right between us at great speed and zipping inches above the ground in pursuit of a careless crow or mockingbird.

    Along the way, we would have to continuously retrieve our birds to arm and feed them small amounts. This was the key to falconry. A raptor won’t hunt if it’s not hungry, but if it’s too hungry, it will go into energy-conserving scavenger mode and not actively roam the skies looking for prey. So it’s important to maintain our birds hunting weight during the entire hunt. We do this by feeding small amounts of food every ten or fifteen minutes. (Plus, it’s great fun extending your arm while having no idea where you bird is then suddenly, WHAM, he hits you from out of nowhere and snags the little morsel you’re holding in your palm). Caught some great GoPro video. No wonder field mice always act so nervous.

    In the end, we made no kills. But we also got the chance to exercise a great owl…and these are the only photos I currently have uploaded. Perhaps a few more pics or a video once we get back in the states.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    We learned it takes roughly two years to become fully licensed as a falconer. Beginning as an apprentice with beginner birds such as our Harris Hawks or Red Tails, then slowly graduating to more advanced birds with more challenging traits. Eventually, a master falconer can engage in commercial bird control at airports or instructing.

    All in all, much more to it than I ever imagined...and a lot of fun.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  2. Lone_Wolfe

    Lone_Wolfe Sandbox Refugee CLM

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    Wow, beautiful bird!
     

  3. NeverMore1701

    NeverMore1701 Fear no Evil Platinum Member

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    That is just too cool! I'd love to give it a shot when I have lots of time and money to blow.
     
  4. Annhl8rX

    Annhl8rX

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    That sounds like an awesome experience.
     
  5. Patchman

    Patchman Florist

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    Beautiful birds.
     
  6. Baba Louie

    Baba Louie

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    Envious. Love raptors. Well, all birds more or less, but birds of prey... awesome.

    That Owl... beautiful.

    As a kid, I remember reading Farley Mowat's books Owls in the Family and The Dog Who Wouldn't Be. I do remember L'ing MAO. Been in love with birds, dogs (and other Mowat books) ever since.
     
  7. certifiedfunds

    certifiedfunds Cosmopolitan Bias

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    If you become a falconer, get an eye patch and become the coolest dood on GT
     
  8. tslex

    tslex

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    Absolutely nifty. Didn't know there were places you could participate like that.

    Tagged for when you post the video.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  9. KentuckyPatriot

    KentuckyPatriot Photojournalist

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    Great photos...and I am sure an even greater time had by you and the Mrs.!
     
  10. RenoF250

    RenoF250

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    Awesome, my neighbor has done falconry. I need him to hook me up with a session like that.
     
  11. badge315

    badge315

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    Very cool indeed. :cool:
     
  12. amazon

    amazon

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    very cool!

    I was in the UK this spring, for business, and stayed near Oxford. There was an area "attraction" (for lack of a better word) on falconry. I really wanted to go there, but I didn't have the time.

    I am fascinated by raptors, and would have loved to see them in action.

    I have two parrots at home, and that's as close as I get ;-)
     
  13. Henry Kane

    Henry Kane Reverend

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    WOW! Absolutely cool! I'm envious...a bunch. I finally moved (just a few days ago) on a longtime interest and contacted a local wildlife rescue. I expressed that my primary interest in in volunteering for bird rescue and rehabilitation. They responded with info on the next steps I need to take.

    Wifey, Jr, and I have been talking pretty seriously about the commitment, and have decided that we are all about it! My ultimate goal is to gain the knowledge and experience to work with raptors.
    Owls are my favorite animals, the end. That owl pic is amazing. I hope I can experience something similar some day. Congrats! :wavey:
     
  14. Ironbar

    Ironbar

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  15. syntaxerrorsix

    syntaxerrorsix Anti-Federalist CLM

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    Very cool. U/L the GoPro video when you get a chance. I'd really like to see that.
     
  16. whitetiger7653

    whitetiger7653 NRA Life Member

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  17. Jake514

    Jake514

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    Very cool - I will need to put experiencing something like this on my To-Do list!
     
  18. Bruce M

    Bruce M

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    Wow Looks very fun and educational - a lifetime memory, I'm sure.
     
  19. HoBoJoe

    HoBoJoe

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    I just saw a falconer at the Renaissance Fair, made the entire thing sound way different than what I expected.

    2 year mandatory apprenticeship, and usually you trap a baby hawk and train them for a year. Then they release them and start all over. I had no idea that they were used for hunting.
     
  20. Dragoon189

    Dragoon189

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    It is sad that it is so hard to get an apprenticeship. This is a hard art to get into.