Master Falconer, Bob Raymond, shares his story and insights on falconry, below. Check back for new entries.
Falconry has been in existence for thousands of years, pre-BCE, and is still practiced today around the world. Back in medieval times, the falconer supplied most of the food for the village that he lived in with the assistance of the bird of prey. Also depending on your social status back then dictated what Bird of Prey (BOP) you could own and fly. Interesting that owls were not used then as they were associated with witchcraft. That is enough of the history, there is lots of information on the web if you wish to pursue.
Fast forward to 20 years ago. Some of you may wonder why I am doing these articles as hopefully there will be many. I normally am standing up and teaching this subject with the aid of strong visual power points so sitting down in front of a keyboard is new to me, but I think it will work. The answer to why, is my strong love of BOP and to educate people in their part in conservation.
The question that I am asked most often when people find out that I fly BOP is: How did I get involved in it? The answer is kind of long, but it goes like this.
My employment involved helicopters in various places around the world. I always carried at least 2 cameras everywhere that I went, finding that I had a knack for animal photography, in particular BOP. A few decades went by selling pictures freelance to wildlife magazines, and no I did not get rich selling the pictures, but I learned a lot watching various BOP in the wild. I read books, yes books, pre the web. I thought long and hard about leaving my career in helicopters to go to university and become an ornithologist but bird watching has a slim paycheck.
Another decade went by with a high stress job and while sitting in front of a computer a random thought occurred, I need something to do and blow off some steam. I like to be in the bush by myself, I like BOP. The answer was to become a falconer, one of my best decisions in my life. Some time on the web had all my answers, find a master falconer, apprentice for 2 years and away you go, easy right?
Stay tuned in for the next installment, the apprenticeship and first BOP.