6 Reasons why not to become a falconer

(Intro to Falconry 3 of 4)

If you think you have passion for birds of prey, falconry will test you. Here are a few of the reason not become a falconer.

  1. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
    This is not a hobby, it is a lifestyle, the trapping process, the manning process, the training will suck all of your free time and then will consume time from other aspects of your life. More and more of your life will become consumed with falconry and your bird(s). Those who are in falconry will become more a part of your life and if those who aren’t part of falconry or get what it’s about will drift further. Beware, once you are on the inside of falconry, it’s gravitational pull is so strong, you may never escape. That sounds funny, there are friends who swore it off yet, I see them time and time again at events, sometimes with new birds.
  2. Sacrifice is commanded.
    Once you have a beautiful red tailed hawk or a feisty kestrel, you may find yourself doing anything for them. I have seen falconers sacrifice lifestyles to step up their falconry game. These are conditions that you would never have seen seen yourself in just 1 year earlier. (Example, living in a small trailer with a dozen raptors in Central California for months at a time, away from family, I seen this first hand.)
  3. Your Bird Might be Free But, there are so many other expenses.
    • Trapping – Basically costs you gas money.
    • Leather making Equipment + leather – Depending on how involved you get, the leather working equipment can be in the low hundreds of dollars.
    • Hoods aren’t cheap – My opinion is every falcon and hawk needs their on well fit hood. And then a good trapping hood set consisting of 10 to 20 sizes of hoods. Falconry hoods range from $60 to hundreds of dollars, depending on how fancy you want to go for your precious birds.
    • The mews…
      A mews (bird enclosure, at least 8’ x 8’ x 8’) requires some skill to build, large area of your yard and a chunk of change. I have heard of some building these on a budget for less than a grand. I have spent roughly $9-grand on mews thus far and I only have 3. Some well-to-do falconers pour concrete, plumbing and electricity for their mews. Probably running over $10,000 per enclosure.
    • Food is expensive – and not so easy to get. These are some types of protein you will have to have on hand before you get your first bird. You can’t get these from the local pet food stores.
      • Quail
      • DOC (Day Old Chicks)
      • Mice*
      • Rats*
      • Starlings
      • Pigeons
      • etc.
        *While you can get mice and rats from the pet store, they are quite costly in quantities that you require. There are online sources that will ship some of these frozen to you for slightly better rates.
    • We bought a new truck
      You might try to make your existing car work for falconry. You might hold out for a year or to. Soon, you will get a whole new hawking vehicle, with all new payments to make and that vehicle won’t stay pristine for very long.
    • Falconry bag + Equipment
      Your entire wardrobe might change. Hunting boots (multiple pairs) pants/chaps, bags, bells, gloves, scale, the swivel collection and the perches can rack up a pretty penny.
    • Telemetry
      Why do I have so many transmitters and receivers? I only fly 1 bird at a time! These transmitters range from $100 to 1,000. Receivers range from $400 to $700. There are less expensive options but it’s not that much less.
    • Freezers
      I used to have only 1 freezer for my frozen dinners and making Ice. Now I have 2 freezers and no room for human food. Sad.
  4. Falconry is Not as glamorous or romantic as you might think.
    There is a glamorous side and there is a gritty side. But, mostly there is a gritty side.
    • Preparing and handling food
      This is skinning mice, mincing rats, gutting pigeons, dipping our fingers into a bag full of random guts and slapping it onto your glove. When your bird decides it doesn’t want these gooey bits on their beak, they shake their head and flick said parts onto your face, hopefully you are wearing protective glasses.
    • Getting Bit and footed
      It’s said you have to watch for how a raptor kills. Falcons kill with their specialized beak. Falcons can strike fast and do some REAL DAMAGE with their beaks.
      Hawks kill by hooking prey with their front 3 talons then like a hydraulic press push their hallux talon clean through the organs of it’s prey… or your arm/face. To make things worse, these are their meat hooks, covered in raw meat bacteria, and to take it up one more level… Hawks have ratcheting system where they will keep that pressure pushing through your body with no effort on their part. Until their foot (not their brain) thinks that what they are squeezing is dead, they will continue to foot.
      Every falconer has been footed. Some say, you aren’t a falconer until you been footed at least once.
    • Killing and cleaning prey
      First you hear a rabbit’s scream (yes they do scram and it is jarring to the core). Then you have to dispatch that rabbit while your hawk is on said rabbit trying to foot you to keep from taking their catch. It gets many multiples worse from here. If you manage to grab the rabbit, screaming for it’s life, you pull your kill stick from your bag and pierce the rabbit’s skull clean through to the dirt. The rabbit still kicking and screaming louder than before you opt for the lawn-mower spinal disconnect method that takes up to 3-4 times before you hear that pop.
      Next, before you can rest, you will want to help your hawk enjoy the fruits of its labor. You reach for your carpet sheers, cutting into the rib cage exposing the flesh. This is where your hawk plunges their head into the body cavity to drink the blood first.
      By now, your hands, every article of clothing and face are covered in blood. Who’s blood? It doesn’t matter at this point. Your sadistic bird has its kill and seems to be in heaven while you try to relax and begin to contemplate explaining this situation to St. Peter.
    • Cleanup
      After trying to clean the blood and pulling the ticks off your close and body, you realize, you should clean the mews of all of mutes that have been plastered over the floor and walls. Hope you have a power washer and mask.
    • The smells
      A falcon’s mutes are some of the most putrefied I have smelt next to that of owl’s cecum release. Rat is the worse smell I have encountered on a daily basis, the oils in their body produce a stench that will burn into your olfactory for the rest of your life.
    • Diseases that can be contracted
      I won’t get into this now, there are a number of diseases you can catch by being around your birds and out hunting in the field. Lyme could mess you up for life.
    • The opposite of glamorous is calling your unresponsive bird from a tree for hours on end.
  5. You will be tested. Falconry will test you heart, you will fall in love with the birds and they won’t love you back. You will release them back to the wild and you will suffer tragedy.

    Leaning from other’s mistakes is key to being the best falconer you can be. (Iggy’s story, Sunny’s Story, Ryker’s story and Rango’s story).

Published by Jesse

Licensed falconer since 2015. Experience flying with training 4 different species. I write to answer common questions and to help inform others looking to get started into the sport of falconry.

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