For those from the Apprentice Falconry Proboard, this will sound familiar:

*stands up*

Hello. My name is Fred and I am a hawk-aholic.

*sits down*

But seriously... I have been spending the last 2 years studying for the exam and making sure that my life was at a place where I could dedicate the time and energy needed to properly care for a BOP. I registered on the Apprentice forum last month and recently began posting there recently.

Due to my posts on that forum, yosemity71 reached out and informed me that he lives in my neck of the NJ woods. He also suggested that I register here. Thank you, sir!

To be perfectly honest, I kind of burned myself out on forums some time ago. I used to be a PC gamer and hosted/moderated many different forums for several different games. I gave that all up a few years back due to burnout. I needed to get outside more! I am now getting back into the groove and enjoying talking to other like minded folks. So far everyone I have spoken with has been very informative and friendly.

Since I gave up the gaming "career" I have gone back to my roots enjoying camping, hiking, fishing and hunting. My father was quite the outdoors-man so most of my childhood was spent outdoors.

I live in South NJ but also have a house in a small village in rural upstate PA (Sullivan County) right on the edge of state game lands.

Raptors, and birds in general, have always been a passion of mine. I volunteer at a local wildlife refuge and I am the "bird man", rarely working with mammals or anything not feathered. Sunday morning we held our monthly (seasonal) raptor photography session and I was able to work as a handler. I have been there a few years now but had never had a bird on the fist.

All of my raptor handling was casting or otherwise securing the birds so that the Biologist could perform examinations or administer medications. I have had every kind of raptor from kestrels and screech owls to large red tails and vultures in my fists. After I passed the exam I had a discussion with the Director of Education at the refuge who agreed that I was more than ready to start helping with training the education birds and working the festivals. I have four festivals coming up over the next 6 weeks at which I will be handling raptors and educating the kiddies! Unfortunately, the resident birds we keep are not releasable due to either human causes or accidental injury. But this is how I spend my Saturday nights! We do, of course, release any that we are able to rehab, which is an amazing feeling. Every time!

I decided to make this life long dream a reality and I am so very close. I passed the exam a few weeks ago, have a pile of lumber forming in my garage for the mews, started practicing my leather working skills, and have been stalking a passage RT in my town. The New Jersey Falconry Club, of which I have been a member for 2 seasons, has been outstanding in guiding me on this journey. Unfortunately, I have not yet secured a sponsor, due to geographical distance.

I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself and thank all of the posters here in advance, and yosemity71 specifically, I am digging through a ton of great information on this board. I wish I had known about this one during my studies.

Warmest Regards,