Falconry is the practice of hunting quarry with trained birds of prey. It is one of the most highly regulated sports in the United States. To become a falconer, one must pass a rigorous exam administered by the DNR, build a mews (a facility to house a bird), obtain required equipment, then have the mews and equipment inspected and approved by the DNR. A prospective falconer must also secure a sponsor, an experienced general or master falconer, for a two year apprenticeship. In West Virginia, and most other states, the only birds an apprentice may fly during their apprenticeship are juvenile Red-Tailed Hawks or American Kestrels obtained from the wild.
I embarked upon my falconry journey at the beginning of 2016 and am currently a licensed apprentice falconer. If you’re interested in following my adventure, check out the blog, and sign-up for our mailing list for updates.