By: Paul Washington
Although it is only the second most popular method of capturing wild game that starts with F,* falconry deserves its day in the sun, that day being today.
Falconry is as old as time. (Editor’s note: many different types of birds of prey can be used in falconry, including hawks, kestrels, owls and eagles). According to Wikipedia, falconry may have begun in Mesopotamia some 2,000 years before the time of Christ.** Given the prohibitive cost, it was practiced primarily by noblemen in medieval Europe and the Middle East who had the resources to acquire the birds and the time and space to train them. With the advent of firearms, the use of trained birds for acquiring meat for the table declined. Go figure.
Fast-forwarding to the 21st Century, a handful of folks still practice the time-honored art of falconry. Like anything else that’s fun, becoming a falconer involves a significant investment of time and money and requires federal and state licensure. Depending on who you ask, your bird requires between 4 and 7 days a week of training, for several hours a day, and may cost tens of thousands of dollars to acquire, house and feed. Chances are, falconers spend more time and money on their birds than they do with their significant others/kids. And, of course, despite this significant investment, the falcon won’t necessarily respect you and he may actually be sleeping with your wife.
Still, it makes for a pretty cool story when you can say you’ve trained a bird to take down a deer. Did I say deer, you ask? Why yes, yes I did. I challenge you to find a more bada#$ video on the internet that one of a bird bulldogging a deer like a Steiner Brother.
Nothing is more symbolic of America than a man who has captured and conscripted a wild bird to do his bidding.
And in these days of economic uncertainty, who better to emulate than the man who can feed his family a steady diet of chipmunks and voles*** without even firing a gun? Yes, friends, it is the falconer who will have the last laugh when civilization ultimately collapses.