If you are considering becoming a falconer,
it is very important that you examine your reasons to
be sure you have a genuine desire and your venture will
not be just a passing fancy. You may have read an article
in a magazine or newspaper or
witnessed a flight demonstration. Articles are frequently
inaccurate, they may sensationalize the sport and little
emphasis may be given to the fact that success
is measured by the beauty and excitement of the chase,
not whether or how much game is caught. JT, founder of
sums it all up with this statement: "[Falconry
is] something personal, private, sacred. The
unspoken relationship the hawk and I share is clear and
hunting partnership, and my front row seat to the greatest
earth. I get caught up in the vicarious thrill, but still
that the bird's the star, I'm the earthbound mortal spectator."
demonstrations make falconry look easy, but fail
to convey any idea of the long hours and the hard work
Before you decide to become a falconer
you should have a serious,
in the sport and a love for, and interest
in, all wildlife and the
You should read everything you can
get your hands on about falconry. You should talk to
falconers, if possible, and ask to go on a hunt with
You should join the Georgia Falconry Association and
attend the various seminars, functions and meets held
during the year.
Be aware that caring
bird requires a substantial amount of time and patience.
You must be financially able to obtain the basic housing
and equipment. If you have the necessary
skills, your initial cost can be reduced by building
the facilities for the bird and making some of the required
Lastly, you must have access to suitable land where you
can fly your bird.
If, after reading the above you still wish to
become a falconer, here is the process:
1.Go to this
DNR web site address for information. This site contains
a link to the Falconry State permit Application with
Study Guide. This will explain exactly how to begin the
2. Study for the test. The Georgia Falconry Association’s “Apprentice
Manual”, "The Apprentice Study Guide" by
the California Hawking Club, "North American Falconry
and Hunting Hawks" by Beebe and Webster and "The
Red-tailed Hawk: A Complete Guide To Training and Hunting
North America's Most Versatile Game Hawk-Fourth Edition;
McGranaghan, Liam are all excellent study materials. The
GFA manual ordering instructions are on the Publications
page of this web site. The others may
be ordered from Northwoods,
Ltd, Mike’s Falconry
Supplies, or Western
3. Take the test. Technically
you have to send in the application before scheduling
test, but practically (and this was confirmed by the
Special Permits Unit on May 9, 2006) you can call Special
Permits and schedule a date to take the test before you
application. The reason they allow this is some must take
the test several times before passing. If you fail, you
must wait 30 days before taking it again. Since your checks
must accompany the application, your checks could potentially
be outstanding for a considerate amount of time. In addition,
the name of your sponsor must be on the application and
it could be very hard to get someone to agree to sponsor
you prior to your passing the test.
4. Secure a sponsor. An apprentice must, by federal law,
be sponsored by a General or Master falconer. Once you're
a GFA member
and have passed the falconry exam, any of the Georgia Falconry
Association’s Apprentice Representatives will assist
you in contacting potential sponsors. This is just one
of several excellent reasons to join the Georgia Falconry
Association. Unless you are fortunate enough to know a
master or general falconer willing to sponsor you, you
will end up contacting one of the GFA’s Apprentice
Representatives for the names of candidate sponsors. Those
candidate sponsors come from the ranks of the GFA. They
are not obligated to sponsor you. Sponsors are looking
for apprentices that have done their homework, passed their
test, are willing to follow directions, love raptors and
are willing to hunt with them. Being a Georgia Falconry
Association member is an important step in the process
of proving to them that you are serious. Your prospective
sponsor will expect you to have a hunting license before
he/she will agree to sponsor you and you must have a hunting
license before you start hunting with your bird. Note:
Hunting is the difference between being a falconer and
a "pet-keeper." One of the worst things that
can be said about someone in this sport is that they are
5. Obtain/construct your facilities and equipment. You
must, by law have a
mews (house), large enough so that your bird will
have freedom of movement. Generally an 8' x 8' x 8' cube
for a free-lofted red tail hawk. If you include a weathering
area, it must also meet state and federal requirements.
See examples of mews and weathering areas here. In addition,
you must have the following equipment: Aylmeri jesses,
outdoor perch, scale capable of reading 1/2 ounce (15 grams)
or better, and a bath pan. Other items not required by
law, but necessary, are a gauntlet (glove), hawk box (Giant
Hood) and a hunting vest.
6. Have your sponsor inspect your facilities and equipment.
If he/she determines you are ready, send your application
to the GADNR, Special Permits Unit along with a check payable
to GADNR for $30.00.
7. Have your inspection. Give the GADNR Special Permits
office a few days to receive your application, and if they
you, call and ask them to schedule your inspection. If
you've obviously provided decent facilities for a hawk
and have the right equipment, you will pass
the first time. If,
however, the ranger/game biologist advises
you to fix or correct an item, make the corrections as
soon as possible and let the DNR know you are ready for
a re-inspection. Once your facilities and equipment pass,
the ranger/game biologist will sign the form and return
to the Special
Circle. Special Permits will then forward your application
and check to the US Fish and Wildlife office in Atlanta.
They will assign you a permit number and return to Special
who will then issue your license. A
word of warning: the
folks at the Special Permits Unit have a heavy workload.
It may take a while for your license to be issued, so be
patient. This is a good reason to take the test, build
your mews and obtain the required equipment early
in the year. This way you don't get caught waiting
license to be issued after trapping season has come in.
8. Congratulations! Once you have your license to learn
to be a falconer, you can trap your bird. Your sponsor
will assist you. You may trap a hawk only during the trapping
from September 1st through December 31st. You are allowed
to take an immature redtail or an immature red-shouldered
hawk or a kestrel of any age. When you trap your bird,
you must, within 5 days, complete form 3-186-A (Migratory
Bird Acquisition/Disposition Report) which was sent to
you along with your license.
is a good idea to
make a copy of this opinion and carry it with you when
you are trapping.
You might also print and take with
you the Hunter
Can I go onto private property to retrieve my bird?
DNR recommends if we can quickly retrieve it do so, but
if not contact the landowner before entering the property.
What if my bird takes game that is illegal or out of
may allow your falconry bird to feed on the game but
you may not take the game into your possession.
Can I allow someone that is not a falconer to hold
or fly my bird?
If I am asked by a school, church, or some group to
talk about my bird and falconry, is this permissible?
but only if you educate the public about the sport of
falconry. You can not just teach about the birds or their
natural history. Your license is a falconry license therefore
in all situations you must primarily educate about the
sport of falconry.
Can I give flight demonstrations?
but only in conjunction with educating the public about
falconry. A word of caution: make sure there are no small
animals, plastic baggies, or objects that resemble prey
in the group.
Can I be compensated monetarily for my educational
talks or demonstrations?
but only for actual expenses. You are not allowed
to make a profit. A falconry permit is not an educational
Can I be compensated monetarily for taking groups on
and you are allowed to make a profit.
This seems to contradict the question above but the difference
in this case is that you are practicing the sport of
falconry which you are licensed to do.
federal laws control the falconry licensing program and
mandate which species of birds are endangered and which
may be taken from the wild for the purpose of falconry.
The federal law also sets the standards and requirements
for keeping a raptor.