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Getting Started

Published on 2/15/2012

        My own experience in finding a sponsor was a matter of persistance. Not in pounding on doors, but being very active in the pursuit of the sport. I did not know any falconers personally. If you already know someone, it's a lot easier. I completed every possible thing I could before I actually needed one. After being turned down at every turn when simply asking for a sponsor, I decided to keep the faith and believe one would eventually turn up. I studied, built furniture, built my mews, took and passed my exams, had my facility inspected, filled out all the forms and had the checks made out and ready to post. All the while I let others know of my progress online. That's when I found my sponsor. I had already been speaking with him over the phone, picking his brain for information and advice, NOT begging a total stranger to devote two years of banging his head on a wall for somebody he didn't know.  My sponsor watched quietly as I progressed and became convinced I had gone the distance and was not going to give up the dream.

At first glance, becoming a falconer in the US is merely a matter of dealing with red tape, filing forms, doing backflips through a government system. You would think it would be no different than filing for any other license. It doesn't take very long before you realize it is actually invitation only. Not only that, but the invitation isn't at the behest of the governing agencies dealing with your paperwork and cash. Other falconers are the ones that have the last final say. It sounds somehow wrong, but in reality, I like it this way. It is the falconers who are keeping this sport alive and under some symblance of surviving, not a committee in washington. It keeps the messers out who are only after a status symbol, following an urge to have a flashy cool arm candy critter and the ones who are not in it for the long term commitment needed to care for one of these birds in an ethical manner. Ethics and the birds are everything to us. We lose marriages and careers over this. You can't turn it off and on as you see fit when you get bored. That bird needs to have a life and we provide that to them.

Follow your dream, don't get side tracked, know for a fact your home life will be massively affected by this choice, including every other member of your immediate family. Expect to be out in the cold snow when you are not at your best and would rather be in bed because the bird's weight is dialed in and the prey is out. The bird comes first. TBCF is the rule that binds you to it. You will be cut, stuck, grabbed, footed, bitten, scraped, shredded by briars. You will get bloody from gutting and cutting up the take as well as from the very nature of the sport. You'll learn what each animal smells like... inside and out. You'll spend just as much time learning the prey as you do your bird. There will be people who want nothing better than to stop you, cause you grief, try to convince you a captive animal is a mortal sin. You'll have the best time of your life. It will appear in a fleeting brief flurry of feather and the tinkle of a bell when the talons meet the meat. It's worth the journey. Don't give up until you feel that pride and adrenalin that comes with the very first kill from your very first bird. Humans weren't designed to smile that big. Your face will hurt because of it. That's falconry.