Like some others, I was really interested in falconry early on in my life and life got in the way. My life wasn't stable (cancer, job, moves, etc.) and it wasn't responsible to continue working on apprenticing let alone having a living being that needed significant time commitments when I was having to commute 3 hours a day and didn't know how I could possibly make it work in an apartment let alone whether I'd actually be alive. So about 28 years ago I made the painful decision that it had to come later.

Life went on, I moved many times, spent a year travelling around the world, got married, had kids, and ended up with a house that backs up to a corn field and managed to get permission to hunt it.

Over the years I've talked about falconry a lot. About how much fun it was. How working as a team with dogs and a hawk felt right. I talked about how I felt it was a really positive thing that increases the population of raptors and if it weren't for the conservation efforts of falconers we would have lost several species of raptors. I got into bow hunting as a replacement and I'm so fantastically bad at it that my family teases me about the score being "Kevin: 0, Deer: 2000".

I guess I made an impression on my wife and kids. About 4 weeks ago my oldest (15m) asked me if he could get into falconry. Inside I was like "YES! YESYESYES!" and I told him that I'd absolutely love to if my wife would agree. So he went to her AND SHE AGREED. WOW! So I thought about things and realize that my life is pretty much at the perfect place for getting started again. I work from home 100% and choose my own hours, my boss used to work at a raptor rehabilitation place, the kids are getting older and appreciate quality one on one time with me more than quantity of time with them.

So I started studying and learning again. I pulled out my old books (I even have the original WA state falconry packet they sent me). Started refreshing everything and figuring out what has changed. Still, I didn't talk about it. I needed to know that my son was serious.

A week ago he came to me again and explained that he was frustrated that I hadn't helped him at all yet. So I explained that I needed to see commitment from him and that falconry was more than a passing fancy before I was going to let him move forward with it but now that he has clearly been thinking about it for weeks, I'm ready.

So I started to reach out to the people listed as possible sponsors. Got assistance to track down some with changed numbers. Networked with about 4 now and setup a time to go hunting with ddcast1234 and we did that yesterday. We went hunting and my son got his first experience with raptors, working a hunt with a dog and a bird, and got a fantastic introduction to falconry. He came away having a much better understanding of falconry. Seeing first hand what goes into it, dealing with meat and dead animals, long walks on a hunt, and what the different parts of the equipment are used for. He didn't get to experience the run to a bird on the ground with quarry but that's okay it'll happen.

As for me, it was both nostalgic and felt new again at the same time. I realized how much I'd missed it and how little I truly know. I know so much of the lingo, I remember almost all the parts of the gear but I know it from reading / memory instead of setting it up and using it personally. When I was younger I had big ideas about what I needed but I can't remember them being specific. I knew I needed a mews but I hadn't put thought into the size, type of raptor, materials used, etc.

So I'm currently studying for the 100 question test along with my son. We have much studying to do. Hopefully we'll be apprenticed soon but in the meantime we're going to keep learning, networking with other falconers, and going hunting a lot more (my son needs to be really sure he wants it as a lifestyle) and with multiple falconers (so he understands the different hunt styles). My wife's on board with building a mews but she wants us to both work with one bird while I think we want different things out of falconry / hunting so that still has to be worked out. (Honestly, I don't even know whether that's possible or a good idea if possible. My son is leaning towards a kestrel and I like rabbit jerky so I'm totally leaning towards a red-tailed hawk. Unfortunately, my wife is already suspicious about the size of mews I want to build being big enough for both. )

I'm here mostly to search for older things, look up information, and get ideas. You'll probably see me asking a bunch of noob questions too. :-P

If you're in Maryland or nearby in PA then please give me a shout.