So, You Want to be A Falconer?
have done the hard part. You found us. We were not hiding, but
there are so few of us that we're just not easy to locate. You
have started a process that can be
tedious and time consuming.
Up-front questions you need to
be able to answer:
- Will you, can you, commit part of your waking hours to a
creature who at the very best of times will merely tolerate your
presence, is as affectionate as a stone, and at the worst of times
will cause you heartache and puncture wounds? Can you commit to an
average of a half-hour a day, every day, and two to four hours on a
hunting day, regardless of school, family, or job - for as long as
you have your bird.
- Are you 12 or older?
- Are you an outdoors person? Do you like animals? Are you a
hunter? Will you be able to hunt three to six times a week during
the hunting season on the hawk's schedule - not yours? If you have
never hunted, can you learn?
- Will you be able to convince the United States Fish and Wild
Service, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and
Parks, and at least one general or master level falconer that you
have the drive, the dedication, the motivation, the book knowledge,
the facilities and equipment to properly house and care for a
- Are you ready to be one of that elite band of hunters? Are you
ready to have people see you with awe, amazement and sometimes
anger? Are you ready to be the absolute center of attention
whenever you carry your hawk on your fist? Are you ready for that
incredible rush when that wild creature first returns to you, on
its own and able to fly free but decides to come to you
Answers: Only the
first two really count. The third one can be learned. The fourth is
a lot easier than it reads.
And the last is reason enough.
Other questions you must start
thinking about are:
- Which hawk do you want to begin with?
- What are you going to hunt for, and where are you going to
hunt? Falconry kestrels hunt small birds, while the redtail hunts
- Where are you going to house the hawk?
- How are you going to transport the hawk between house and the
Through links on this page
Literature. A listing,
with sources, of the books that will help you through the various
steps from taking the test to getting that
hawk. While there are many interesting books on falconry, I
recommend only those that proved useful to me becoming a falconer
and that are available in print.
you have passed the state's falconry exam you will have to have
your facilities and equipment inspected and
approved by a MDWFP conservation officer. If you can answer "yes"
to the items on this checklist, you will pass that inspection.
- We are often asked "how much it costs." It is just
about "Keep your checkbook handy". Falconry is not a sport you can
do on a shoestring, but you do not have to be independently
wealthy either. The good news is that wild-caught hawks cannot be
bought or sold (federal law). They may be trapped during a specific
time of the year or transferred to you at anytime of the year,
consequently your first hawk costs nothing directly. However,
building the hawk house, getting a proper perch,
swivel, glove and so on (see the
for the mandatory
requirements) can add up really quickly, but most of the costs are
one time fees. Annual licensing fees (State is $100),
Sportsman hunting license ($32). Many people build (and enjoy
building) their own hawk house, perch, and so on, cutting that down
- What do we expect from you? In your first year, we expect you
to trap, man, train, and hunt with a passage bird. Ninety-nine
percent of apprentices begin with the redtail. Many beginners get
the impression that because redtails and kestrels are used by
apprentices they are easy birds to work with. That is not the case.
The only reason those hawks are allowed you is because they are
successful as a species and are fairly plentiful. While they are
not the easiest birds to work with, they are not difficult to work
with. Once you successfully hunt with a redtail, the other
ground-oriented species are easy. Once you hunt successfully with a
kestrel, you will find the larger falcons to be just that - larger,
more impressive, certainly, but not harder to work with. If the
magic does not work and it becomes obvious to you and/or your
sponsor that falconry just is not for you, we expect you to
release your hawk. Falconry is not everybody's cup of
tea. Having to release your bird because you are not cut out
to be a falconer is extremely rare, on the order of less than one a
year, but it is better than causing irreparable damage to you
or one of our treasured hunting partners.
What you need to do
- Check out the Falconry
Info Packet on our webpage.
- If you have not already done so, call or write for any other
information on falconry:
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
Attn: Houston Havens
1505 Eastover Dr.
Jackson, MS 39212
- Get your books (see
- When you feel that you are ready, schedule an appointment
with the MDWFP to take the falconry exam.