Falconry: The Other Hunters
By Toby Trigger

Posted: April 25, 2015

Montana offers so many opportunities for hunters it can be tough to decide which one to pursue at times.  Another opportunity exists for bird lovers in Falconry.

Falconers must purchase a license, practice for proficiency and put meat on the table through hunting.  The difference is that falconers weapon of choice is a bird.

According to Montana FWP (http://fwp.mt.gov/doingBusiness/licenses/falconry.html) in Montana there are three classes of falconry licenses: the apprentice class, the general class, and the master class. In order to apply for an apprentice falconry license, you must first obtain a sponsor who is a general or master falconer and will take responsibility for your two years of training as an apprentice. You must also satisfactorily pass an examination concerning falconry (80% or more of the questions must be correctly answered) and satisfactorily construct a facility to hold raptors.

“A Falconer named Jamaica Smith writes for the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance blog post; “Faces of Hunters” and  recently explained how she became interested in using falcons as her primary choice of hunting :

Falconry is the art and sport of hunting with a trained raptor. Many people are completely unaware that falconry even exists. I was certainly one of those people. If it weren’t for one book and the internet, I would most likely not be a falconer.

Although not raised in a hunting family, by my early 20’s I was interested in becoming a hunter. When I met my husband, who was a big game hunter, I had the perfect opportunity to join the hunting community. It was my interest in quail hunting that ultimately led me to falconry. A friend loaned me a book titled A Hunter’s Road: A Journey with Gun and Dog Across the American Uplands., by Jim Fergus. Towards the end of his trip Jim wound up in New Mexico, where he went hawking with a falconer. I was instantly intrigued, wondering if I too could be a falconer. I had my doubts, as I was certain this falconer in New Mexico was the only one east of the Mississippi.

shaq windy dayShortly after that we got a home computer with dial-up internet. My very first internet search was for sugar gliders, a small marsupial that was a popular pet at the time. My second search was for falconers in my home state of Arizona. Twenty years later, it’s safe to say the search for falconers was more fruitful than my forays into sugar glider ownership.

Turns out there were indeed several falconers in Arizona. I found an address for a falconer in a town about three hours from us. He telephoned me the day he received my letter, and later went on to sponsor both myself and my husband during our apprenticeship. In my two decades as a falconer I’ve flown several different species of hawks and falcons. The three primary quarry in my area are cottontail, jackrabbit, and Gambel’s quail, and my birds take a fair number of each every season.

I will be writing a series of articles about falconry for the “Faces of Hunters” blog. If you would like to know more about falconry, chances are good a quick search on the internet will put you in touch with your state’s falconry organization.”

Article based on a blog post from the United States Sportsmen’s Alliance at (http://www.ussportsmen.org/news/faces-of-hunters-jamaica-smith/)

Regulations for falconry are managed by the Montana FWP.  Regulation information available at: http://fwp.mt.gov/doingBusiness/licenses/falconry.html

Feature image by www.nickdunlop.com