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Getting Started

Is Falconry for me?

How do I become a falconer?


Falconry is the most highly regulated hunting activity in the United States.  If you are interested in becoming a falconer, you will need to meet the regulatory standards as well as the standards of your sponsor.

Currently, the Idaho and Federal regulations required to become a falconer are:

  1. The ability to house a bird in a facility called a "mews" which is inspected by Idaho Fish and Game.  This may also include a "weathering area" or place where the bird can be outside and protected from predators and inclement weather.
  2. Passing a written test administered by Idaho Fish and Game (and yes it is hard).
  3. A written letter from a "Master Level" falconer stating that will will oversee you for 2 years as an "apprentice".
  4. Obtaining (paying for) a general hunting license, a state falconry license ($29.50), and a federal falconry license ($100).
  5. The ability to trap, keep in good condition, and hunt with a "passage" juvenile Red-tail hawk or Kestrel. 
  6. A letter to Fish and Game from your sponsor at the end of 2 calendar years, stating that you successfully passed your apprenticeship and recommending that you become a General Level falconer.

For more information on the Idaho and Federal regulations and requirements, please click the links on this site and/or contact your local Fish and Game office. 

  

Am I ready to become a falconer?


Falconry requires an extensive investment of time, money, patience and passion.  Falconers build their lives around the ability to keep their birds in perfect health and hunting condition.  In the end, falconry is about hunting, and not "bird-keeping" an interesting pet.  Before you start seeking out a sponsor, you need to be sure your life is in the "right place" to take on the commitment.  To be able to give the best to your birds, your sponsor, and the sport, you will need:

  1. Several hours of daylight each day to spend training, exercising, and hunting your hawk.  If you work a full time job with daily commitments afterwards, or are a college, junior-high, or high school student then you may not be ready to start.
  2. Access to areas where you can hunt regularly and there is game.  If you do not have transportation on a daily basis, or are too young to drive, then you may not be ready to start.
  3. A basis of knowledge about what falconry is, it's history, and the natural science of raptors and their prey.  If all you know about falconry is "My Side of the Mountain" then you may not be ready to start.
  4. The ability to provide a high-quality diet to your hawk.  If you cannot afford quail or other appropriate food sources, then you may not be ready to start.
  5. The ability to provide an area where your bird can live and fly (mews) as well as a safe area your bird can spend outdoors (weathering area).  If you live with your parents, in an apartment or rental, or in a neighborhood with covenants, then you may not be ready to start. 
  6. The ability to provide necessary (and at times expensive) equipment.  If you are having a difficult time paying the bills or have no income, then you may not be ready to start.
  7. Physical health that will allow you to be outdoors in the fall and winter for several hours of walking at a time.
  8. The ability to build and maintain a mentoring relationship with your sponsor.  If you already know everything, or are too shy to ask for help, then you may not be ready to start.

 

What can I do to get ready?


If you know that you are not quite ready to start, but want to start preparing, there are several things you can do:

  1. Increase your knowledge of falconry.  You can read books, visit and study at the Archives of Falconry in Boise.
  2. Become a pre-apprentice member of the Idaho Falconer's association.  You will be able to access our online forum, and attend events where you can meet local falconers, and perhaps find someone who will sponsor you when you are ready.
  3. Volunteering for the Peregrine Fund, the Archives of Falconry, the Boise Zoo, Idaho Fish and Game, or the local Bureau of Land Management, or local raptor rehabilitator.

 

How can I find a sponsor?


The best way for anyone to gain a sponsor is to join the IFA and spend time meeting the local falconers your their area.  Sponsorship is a teaching relationship, and sponsors will want to get to know you before they accept you as an apprentice.  Currently, there are only a few people available to become sponsors, so you may not be able to get a sponsor immediately. 

  1. Have taken and passed the test.
  2. Become IFA members. ($20 a year)
  3. Can meet the requirements for being an ethical falconer.  (See "Am I ready?" section).

If you have met those three items, it still is not guaranteed that you will get a sponsor.  Ultimately, it is the choice of the Master Falconer if they will take you on as an apprentice. No one is "required" to sponsor you. Another good reason to join the IFA, so that people can know you outside of email, and you can meet potential sponsors.  After all, they will be someone that you will be spending a lot of time with!