One of the primary goals of the Georgia Falconry
Association is to promote the art and practice of falconry.
We are very interested in helping anyone, especially those
at the apprenticeship level. According to federal law, an apprentice
must have a sponsor. A sponsor must hold a general or master
falconry license. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources
is kind enough to recommend our organization as a resource
for those interested in the sport of falconry.
We are glad to assist in the search
for a sponsor. We will make every effort to help identify someone
who is willing to consider sponsoring a new apprentice. All
General or Master class falconers have a responsibility to
become a sponsor to ensure the perpetuation of our sport.
Note: If you are a Master or General class falconer in
Georgia and would consider sponsorship, please inform one of
the Directors of your availability.
We also disseminate information about falconry
and our organization to anyone interested in and/or wanting
to become a falconer, or falconers who have recently moved
any GFA board member from the list below for assistance.
The following is a code of ethics
that the California Hawking Club has adopted. It's voluntary
to follow it, but we feel that it's a good basic set of ethics
FALCONER'S CODE OF ETHICS
Adopted by the CHC's Board of Directors
on August 22, 1999
1. First and foremost, I follow the laws
2. I do not keep raptors unless I fly them
free during the hunting season.
3. If I no longer intend to fly
a bird I will transfer my bird to another code-following falconer,
or I will release the bird only if it is actively proving itself in the field.
4. I do not draw undue attention to my birds.
5. I keep my birds, mews, and equipment in
6. I do everything in my power to
recover a lost bird, and to bring a sick raptor back to health.
7. If I am training an "apprentice" falconer,
I will only advance them to "general" falconer
if they follow the code.
Falconer's Field Ethics
Do not feed your bird in the presence of
Hide all food from view of any raptor.
Perch your bird so it cannot accidentally
come in contact with another bird.
Do not hunt near the weathering area.
Do not stand behind or next to a falconer's
bird unless the falconer okays it.
Get permission to closely approach a perched
Report any falconry equipment that is damaged
or broken to the falconer immediately.
Hunting Property Rules
Always get permission to hunt on private
Give owner your name and contact information.
Leave property in the condition you found
it: i.e., close gates, do not leave trash, etc.
Report any abnormalities you may notice:
i.e., injured livestock, down fence, etc.
Get permission for the use of dogs or firearms.
Ask how many vehicles, people may come in
at a time.
Let the landowner know the dates and times
you will be on his property.
If you are a guest of a falconer on private
property, respect his agreement with the landowner by only
coming with him or get your own permission from the landowner.
Hunting in Groups Rules
When several falconers are hunting together
agree on who will go first, how you will divide the allotted
time (by time or kills).
If a bird is not hunting or following, bring
the bird down so another falconer can hunt.
All falconers in the group should stay until
all birds have hunted. It is wrong to leave after your bird
is done and not help the others.
The falconer that is flying is in control
of the pace and direction of the hunt.
The falconer that is flying should
tell all present his particular way of hunting: i.e, walking
from falconer, when to pull vines, if, when and who is to shoot
marbles, when to approach hawk on game.
If another falconer wants to join your group
politely tell them your group is full.
Apprenticeship Program Guidelines
Falconry is the field sport whereby wild
game species are regularly taken during legal hunting seasons
and in accordance with all applicable State and Federal laws
by any species of trained raptor, especially those of the genus
Falcon, Buteo, Accipiter and Parabuteo.
Incidentally, the mandate and emphasis
on the taking of game in this definition of falconry (as opposed
simply to the aesthetics of the pursuit), is required by law.
The keeping of healthy, flighted raptors under falconry permits,
and not hunting with them, constitutes an illegal possession
of migratory birds. Falconry cannot be practiced to any degree
of competency if its practitioners refrain from the regular
pursuit and capture of wild game. As an organization we must
emphasize this basic principle.
It is possible by state law for a falconer
to trap and keep a passage Red-tailed hawk for seven years,
seldom fly it and be deemed a Master falconer in the eyes of
the law. This deficiency can only be corrected if, as an organization,
we establish and promote proper guidelines for the apprentice
and his sponsor.
The relationship between the sponsor and
the apprentice is the foundation upon which our sport is built.
If we build a strong foundation our structure will be strong.
While these guidelines are not binding, we hope they will create
greater checks and balances, self-policing and the mutual accountability
between the apprentice and his sponsor. Just as apprentices
have responsibilities to their mentors, sponsors have responsibilities
toward their pupils.
A. Sponsors shall be available to their apprentices
for sufficient phone conversations or personal meetings (if
proximity allows) to maintain the level of communication and
moral support that novices require throughout his or her formative
B. Sponsors shall inspect at least
once the apprentices' stock of falconry furniture and mews
before the inspection made by the State agent. Any practical
deficiencies shall be mentioned and/or corrected prior to inspection.
C. Sponsors shall accompany and
assist at least once in the trapping of the apprentice's first
D. Sponsors shall be in attendance at the
time of the apprentice's first free flight of his or her hawk.
This is a crucial moment, both practically and emotionally,
and should not be undertaken alone by the novice falconer.
E. Sponsors shall accompany and
assist on several hunts throughout the apprentice's first two
F. Should he or she decide to intermew their
bird, the sponsor shall make at least one inspection of the
apprentices' mews and bird during the molt, in order to assess
the condition of both.
G. At the end of the apprenticeship a letter
of recommendation or denial shall be remitted to state and
A. Apprentices shall have passed the Federal
Falconry exam before requesting sponsorship from any GFA member.
This allows an important means by which the prospective sponsor
may gauge the actual determination and maturity of the apprentice
before volunteering his or her free time and energy toward
the novice's education.
B. Apprentices shall have obtained
proper state hunting permits as per federal law before requesting
sponsorship from any GFA member.
C. Apprentices shall have access to several
suitable locations for the pursuit and capture of wild game
with a trained raptor. Ours is strictly a hunting sport and
novices without easy access to appropriate hunting land should
reconsider their decision to undertake the care and training
of hunting birds.
D. Apprentices shall submit application
to the Georgia Falconry Association and maintain membership
at least the duration of the Apprentice period. This will indicate
his or her general resolve and provide access to a body of
requisite knowledge via contact with experienced members. The
will gain practical and diverse experience
during participation in Field Meets.
E. We recommend the Apprentice have produced
or procured at least one hood and lure. While the mastery of
proper hooding and luring are not expected of the novice, general
proficiency in the creation and use of both these ancient and
vital implements will be needed later.
F. We strongly recommend the apprentices
acquire a Red-tailed hawk as their first falconry bird. These
are the largest, least excitable, least likely to be lost,
easiest to train and the most difficult to injure of three
species currently available to the apprentice. The American
Kestrel is considered far too fragile, high-strung and difficult
to successfully hunt with to be flown first by any novice.
The Red-shouldered hawk is similarly high-strung and difficult
to bring to field competency, and is less hardy than its larger
relative, the Red-tailed hawk.
G. We recommend the apprentice keep a daily
log, wherein the variables of weight, weather, and time of
day are added to a detailed description of each training session
and subsequent hunt. The keeping of such a log, though perhaps
a tedious chore at times, will provide invaluable future reference
material for the novice.
to Prospective Falconer:
Dear Prospective Falconer,
We would like to tell you that obtaining
a sponsor is not actually the first order of business, though
it would seem that it might
be at first glance. We recommend prior to looking around for
a Sponsor that you study how to become a falconer..... plus
We also strongly recommend the following
books for those seeking to become falconers: "The Apprentice
Study Guide" and the "Apprentice Manual" by
the California Hawking Club, "The Red Tailed Hawk" by Liam McGranaghan
and "Buteos and Bushytails" by Gary Brewer. You can
order these from Northwoods
Ltd., Western Sporting and
Mike's Falconry Supplies.
We recommend that you get as many of these books as you can,
begin studying, take the Apprentice
exam and join
the GFA. There will be several club workshops that you will have
the opportunity to attend. Please see the events list on our
web site for dates.
There's quite a lot to do before soliciting
a sponsor and expecting one to sponsor you. If you have gotten
as far as passing the
test and have joined the GFA you will have a better chance of
getting a sponsor since your interest, motivation and dedication
will be apparent at that point. At this point we can help you
by giving you a list of falconers in your general area, but you
must convince them you will be a good candidate. Remember, falconry
is a hunting sport and not for pet keepers. Your sponsor may
insist you go hunting with other falconers to show your true
interest in the sport. If you do not have time to do this he
will certainly wonder how you would have time if you had your
It is the sponsor's responsibility to see
that you have the proper equipment and facilities prior to
your state inspection. Once you
pass your state inspection your sponsor will help you trap, train
and hunt your first bird.
The advantage of joining an association is
vital, especially if your sponsor can not help as he or she
The Georgia Falconry Association
from Roy Lee DeWitt, former President of GFA, regarding
I just received another request from someone
to talk at a school event. They wanted a flight demo. I informed
them that our permits do not allow us to just do flight demos
but only talk about falconry. If we talk about falconry they
will allow us to do flight demos but we can only be compensated
for our expenses. We are not allowed to make a profit. Also
the event was the same day as our upcoming mini meet.
The Georgia Falconry Association decided
sometime ago to not get involved in these kinds of activities,
therefore we passed them on to our members that may want to.
In doing so you are not representing The Georgia Falconry Association.
GFA is very selective on which event best represents falconry
and our members.
We have many new falconers
this year and I am sure some of them will be asked to bring
their bird to
a church, club, or school and talk. You will probably think,
'what harm could come from a flight demo?'. Warning, be careful!
Your hawk is not a pet, even though you may think so. Not every
hawk behaves the same in different circumstances. Some Red-tailed
hawks are extremely tame but do not let this fool you. You
are wearing a glove for a good reason. What you teach others
about your extremely tame hawk would be different if it was
an aggressive hawk, which some of you are now finding out with
your second bird. Teach respect for your bird no matter what
its behavior so when someone encounters an aggressive bird
they do not get injured.
Each year we bring birds to the Buckarama
for the public to see but we do not allow non-falconers to
hold them (it is illegal) or touch them. We explain how dangerous
they can be so they will have the proper respect for them.
This request for a flight
demo made me think of something that happened to me several
I was flying
an old female Harris hawk someone had given me. Nice bird around
people, you could pet it, hug it, no problem it's a Harris
hawk. Wrong! It had learned (not from me) what plastic bags
were used for. I was in the parking lot of a business park
and had just let my bird out to go hunting when a family drove
up. The parents saw my bird and asked if the kids, who were
in the car, could see her. The next thing I know, for some
unknown reason, she was trying to go thought the back glass
window. This frightened the children who opened the door to
get out allowing the hawk to enter the back door of the car.
One of the children had a sandwich bag in his hand that he
raised to cover his face. The hawk grabbed the bag and his
face. I grabbed the hawk by the head to make her let go and
threw her in my car. I never felt so sick in all my life. I
was relieved to only find two small puncture wounds. One wound
was near the eye and another on the lip. There was very little
bleeding. The parents were the most understanding people I
had ever met. I gave them my name and phone number and left.
I never heard from the parents again but I will never forget
how I felt when I saw that boy screaming with my hawk hanging
from his face. I felt like giving up falconry and killing the
bird. Obviously I did not, but I learned the hard way
that hawks are to be respected at all times.
practicing falconry for over 40 years and believe we should
leave flight demos to professionals that are more experienced
and aware of the dangers involved.
This year we have the finest group of new
falconers I have ever seen and many of them are already flying
their birds and some have taken game. With the large number
of new falconers we have this year I felt it was best for me
to say something about this issue before someone learns this
lesson the way I did - the hard way.
Roy Lee DeWitt