When it comes to hunting, being a
falconer is often considered as being the elite. And rightly so! The
art of hunting with a bird of prey takes many hours of training for
both the owner and bird. Its also outrageously expensive. Despite
this, many people are still buying birds from hawks to eagles in
pursuit of the sport. So that begs the question…
What is Falconry and How is it Done?
Using the natural instincts of their birds to form a working relationship and to hunt is what the sport is all about. Depending on the age of the bird, they must teach it to trust them and to work with them. This is done by rewarding it with the only currency that really matters, food.
This is called manning. With a lot of food and patience the bird will trust its owner, it will calmly eat from his/her hand and will be happy wearing its hood and Jessie. This relationship is key as it means the bird now knows its owner as its provider of food and care. This bond is the only thing that will stop it from flying away!
Next the bird is trained, this differs greatly depending on what type of bird is being trained and what it is being trained for. The training, in short, uses a “prey dummy”. Once the bird catches the dummy it is rewarded with food. Some birds will be trained to fly above their handler until it sees the prey, some will be sent from the hand. It all depends on what is desired.
But it doesn’t end there. The hunter must be fully committed to his sport. The bird most be flown almost every day, in all weather all year long. Its food needs to be carefully sustained, meaning the bird isn't over feed (or it wont hunt) or under feed for obvious reasons. But most importantly, the owner must love the bird unconditionally, even though it will never show any real affection back.
And this is where most amateurs go wrong. They make the mistake of rushing out to buy a hunting bird with no real idea of the level of commitment needed. So to sum it up, a falconer is a hunter who uses raptures to hunt. It is of course much harder then that and anyone serious about talking up the sport needs to be properly trained by a expert, which I am certainly not!