Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How old do I have to be to apply for an apprentice falconry license?
A. The minimum age is 12.
Q. What kind of bird am I allowed to have as an apprentice?
A. Federal and state law limits you to a red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk, or the American kestrel. All (except the kestrel) must be trapped as a passage (immature bird).
Q. How many raptors can I have?
A. As an apprentice falconer, you are only allowed to possess one raptor at a time. If you lose this raptor, you can only replace it once per season. A general class falconer may possess two raptors, a master class falconer, three.
Q. What kind of hunting license do I have to have?
A. You have to purchase a Sportsman's license.
Q. What is the best choice of raptor for an apprentice?
A. A good bird to start with is the red-tailed hawk. It is the best choice for the apprentice falconer that has access to land that holds cottontails and/or squirrels. Even waterfowl and upland game birds can be taken by this versatile species. Kestrels should be left to the more experienced falconer.
Q. What steps do I need to take to become an apprentice falconer?
A. First, find a sponsor. Sponsors are falconers of either Master or General class. Contact the MDWFP and we will try to assist you in contacting one. Second, take and pass your falconry exam. Next, have your facilities and equipment inspected. Finally, get your permit, trap a bird, and start your two-year apprenticeship.
Q. How do I find a sponsor?
A. First and foremost, find a way to spend time with other falconers. For some, this is easier than for others. It depends on your location and personality. Falconers are spread thin everywhere in the contiguous lower 48 states, so if you live in an outer-lying area, you might have to do some driving. Please understand, YOU have to take the initiative. Spend an entire season flushing game for current falconers. Study how they handle and manage their birds. Show them that you are a serious student of falconry and you want to learn more. If you will do this for an entire hunting season, you will likely have a sponsor. Friendship first, sponsorship second.
Q. How long is an apprenticeship?
A. You can apply for your general class falconry license after completing two, four-month-long hunting seasons, or basically two years.
Q. What books do you recommend I read?
A. The best book for pre-apprentices is: North American Falconry and Hunting Hawks by Hal Webster and Frank Beebe. After reading that, a few other good books to have are: Buteos and Bushytails by Gary Brewer, The Red-Tailed Hawk - A complete guide to training and hunting North America's most versatile game hawk by Liam McGranaghan, The Falconer's Apprentice - A Guide to Training the Red-Tailed Hawk by William Oakes, and Falconry Equipment by Bryan A Kimsey and Jim Hodge. Check out our literature link.
Q. What should I study for my test?
A. In addition to the books above, your mentor and the falconry coordinator can help provide you with additional study materials.