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. In September 2016 we welcomed She-Ra the juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk to McNemar House. That fall I trained She-Ra to hunt squirrels and rabbits, and we now have one hunting season under our belts and are working on our second. If you’re interested in following our adventure, check out the blog, and sign-up for our mailing list for updates.