Getting Started

 Glossary of falconry terms | Help Finding a Sponsor


American Falconry recognizes that some of the readers might not be familiar with the realities of keeping a bird. Here we will explain some of those questions you may have. Let's start with the legal aspects of keeping a raptor in the United States for hunting.

First you must have a Federal and State falconry license. This is provided by your State Game and Fish department. The only state that still doesn't have falconry regulations is Hawaii. Therefore it's illegal to hunt game with a raptor there. You must first have a falconry license before you possess a raptor, or it will be confiscated and you will be cited. State have their own regulations and guidelines that meet or exceed federal standards. So contact them directly for information.

Next let's talk about obtaining a falconry license. It's not easy, but it's that way to protect the birds and the sport from abuse. First you take a written test on biology, training, and veterinary aspects of raptors, to pass you must score at least 80%. Next you have to find a sponsor to train you. Click here for more information on finding a sponsor. He will have a general or master falconry permit, and sponsor your two year apprenticeship. Then you must build a suitable facility to house your raptor and obtain necessary equipment. This will be physically inspected by a Game and Fish representative. After paying the state fee you become a licensed falconer. Now you can trap a raptor, usually a Redtail hawk.

This is were the fun begins, you now have an animal to care for. Proper food, water, and supervision is required, cost is about $1.00 a day for feed. Frozen mice, quail, or pigeons are a normal source of food. Your equipment and housing facility will cost approximately $1000.00. Last but not least the reality check, you need time! September to March you hunt with your bird a minimum of three times a week, three hours per day would be average. You'll need suitable hunting ground and a means of transporting your bird there. Expect to comply with all state hunting regulations. The season from April to September you take off as your bird moults a new set of feathers. Although this may sound like a hassle and a lot of work, it is, but it's definitely worth it, just ask any falconer. So have at it and good luck!!!

Suggested reading:

American Falconry magazine. One of the best sources of information for falconers who are just getting started, as well as experienced falconers. Subscription rates and details.

California Hawking Club Apprentice Study Guide edited by Rick Holderman

The Red-Tailed Hawk, A complete Guide to Training and Hunting North America's Most Versatile Game Hawk by Liam McGranahan

The Falconer's Apprentice, A Guide to Training the Passage Red-tailed Hawk by William C. Oakes

American Kestrels in Modern Falconry by Matthew Mullenix

North American Falconry & Hunting Hawks - 7th edition by Beebe and Webster

Buteos & Bushytails by Gary Brewer

Read anything else you can get your hands on that is related to falconry or birds of prey.

These and many other books are available from Western Sporting. PO Box 939, Ranchester WY 82839-0939, (888) FLY-HAWK, (307) 672-0445,


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