Mind of a Hunter
Originally a method of obtaining food, the practice of falconry has evolved over time to be more associated with nature conservation, cultural heritage and social engagement within and amongst communities. Following their own set of traditions and ethical principles, falconers train, fly and breed birds of prey (which includes besides falcons, birds such as eagles and hawks) developing a bond with them and becoming their main source of protection. The practice, present in many countries around the world. may vary regarding certain aspects, for example the type of equipment used but the methods remain similar. Falconers regard themselves as a group and may travel weeks at a time engaging in the practice, while in the evening recounting stories of the day together. They consider falconry as providing a connection to the past, particular for communities for which the practice is one of the few remaining links with their natural environment and traditional culture. Knowledge and skills are transmitted in an intergenerational manner within families by formal mentoring, apprenticeship or training in clubs or schools. In some countries a national examination must be passed in order to become a falconer. Field meets and festivals provide opportunities for communities to share knowledge, raise awareness and promote diversity.
-North American Falconers Association
One afternoon around Christmas 2007, during a luncheon with some family members, I turned to my five-year-old grandson, waiting till others were out of earshot, and said: "Derek, you know what I want to do?" He gave me his full attention. "I want to get one of those big birds on my arm and fly him."
"Grandma, that's really cool. I think you should do it," agreed my generous-hearted grandson. "Just don't tell Alphonse, your cat." After that declaration I embarked on becoming a licensed falconer, a dream unconsciously carried since I had first viewed that falconer in Central Asia.
-Mary Ellen Rooney