Rural Missouri - January 2011 - (Page 18)

Huntin’ with hawks The ancient sport of falconry is alive and well in the Show-Me State E ers Association. “Some of the earliest accounts date back to 2,000 B.C. in China.” Falconry was likely introduced to Europe around the 5th century, and falconers would become an yes on the front, you hunt. Eyes on the side, integral part of society. Even Christopher Columbus you hide. It’s a catchy little maxim, one that brought a falconer on his voyages across the Atlantic. Meagan Duffee of Nevada uses when she The sport reached the height of its popularity in talks to elementary school children about a the 17th century, but the advent of firearms would key physical difference between predators and prey, lead to its rapid decline. Then, just as today, the latbetween those who eat and those who get eaten. est technology made the old ways obsolete. For the 24-year-old college student, however, But falconry is enjoying a modern revival. the adage isn’t something she only According to Tom, who has cared for birds of discusses in theory — it’s part of her prey throughout his entire adult life, there are daily lifestyle. about 110 falconers in Missouri, and that Meagan is a falconer, someone who number is growing. trains birds of prey for the sole purpose Becoming a falconer, however, is not of hunting wild game. It’s an ancient and • Nevada as simple as going down to the local demanding sport, and one that is growing animal shelter and adopting a puppy in popularity in Missouri. to be your hunting buddy. Keeping a “This is my third season flying a redbird of prey for the purpose of hunttailed hawk, and I love it,” says Meagan, ing wild game is a lifestyle that requires dedication who is studying fisheries and wildlife biology at and daily attention. You must obtain permits, meet nearby Pittsburg State University in Kansas. “I am so requirements for housing your birds and even pass a hooked.” written test. For many, falconry — or “hawking,” as it’s someIn the U.S., there are three levels of falconers times called — conjures images of medieval feudal — apprentice, general and master. To become an society. But long before European kings and queens apprentice, you must first find a general or master reserved the most regal raptors for their personal falconer to sponsor you. use, people were using the birds to put food on the “Your sponsor is there to mentor you through table. your first two years,” says Meagan, who completed “Hunting with birds of prey goes back thousands her apprenticeship under Tom last season. “He’s of years,” says Tom Schultz, a longtime falconer there to show you how to trap your first bird, how from O’Fallon and president of the Missouri Falcon- by Jason Jenkins jjenkins@ruralmissouri.coop to train your bird and kind of show you everything about falconry. Even though I’m not his apprentice anymore, I still call Tom probably once a week with different questions.” Once you find your sponsor, you can apply for your permits. Currently, falconers in Missouri are required to obtain permits from both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation. That will change in March, however, as the current dual federal/state permit system is being scrapped in favor a state-only system, Tom says. After passing the written falconer’s test, a conservation agent will inspect where you plan to keep your hawk, an enclosure called a mew. Once you’ve passed the inspection, you’re finally able to take possession of a bird. “For me, it took about five months to get through the process,” Meagan says. Apprentice falconers are allowed only one raptor. Current rules dictate that it may only be a red-tailed hawk or an American kestrel, though the new rules in March are supposed to liberalize that restriction, Tom adds. Two years is the minimum time someone will spend as an apprentice before becoming a Tom Schultz of O’Fallon, president of the Missouri Falconers Association, proudly holds Phoenix, his 1-1/2-year-old peregrine falcon, as she feasts on the leg of a duck she killed. 18 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2011

Rural Missouri - January 2011
Contents
Comments
Columns
Doing Wood Right
Mail Bag
Blackwater’s Bucksnort
Out of the Way Eats
Huntin’ With Hawks
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Billards Meets Bowling
Getting $mart in the New Year
Meet Yorik, One Tricky Dog
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Neighbors
Just4kids

Rural Missouri - January 2011

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