How to Get Started

Falconry is an ancient sport of hunting with a trained raptor.  In the early 1970s, the USFWS moved to legalize the sport, requiring a federal and state license to practice falconry. In Oregon, the State Falconry Program, is overseen by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) who issue Falconry Licenses and Raptor Capture Permits.

Training a wild hawk or falcon to hunt cooperatively with you takes time, patience, and more than a few tricks & skills that falconers have fine-tuned in the last 5,000 years. For this reason, the only way to enter into the sport of falconry is by passing a written exam, having the state do a facilities & equipment inspection, and apprenticing under another falconer for 2-years. Col. Luff Meredith, the father of American Falconry, shared this axiom in a 1938 interview “it takes six weeks to train a hawk, but more than three years to make a falconer.”

Recent changes to the Federal and State Falconry regulations have allowed states to direct their own falconry programs.  Here in Oregon, our regulations allow apprentices to trap, train, and hunt with a wild caught (passage) Red-tailed Hawk or American Kestrel. This is done under the guidance of another falconer, your sponsor.

Falconry isn’t for everyone. The best way to prepare for the sport is to:

  1. READ: Read about falconry. We’ve set up a page on which books are best and how to dive into the published information on falconry.
  2. HUNT: Hunt squirrels, rabbits, quail, and pest species such as starlings, sparrows, and pigeons. Get your hunting license. Go out hunting because that is what falconry is – just with a raptor instead of a gun or bow. Hunting small game will allow you to put food in your freezer and have it ready for your raptor. It also let you learn where to hunt and how to stalk the quarry you’ll be hunting with your raptor.

We’ve set up a page on Preparing to Become an Apprentice to help guide you through the steps of learning, and to start to understand the commitment of time it takes to get into the sport (read more…).

The web has a lot of resources out there for would-be apprentices.  For more information and steps on becoming a falconer, check out North American Falconers Association’s (NAFA) website on How to Become a Falconer. For extensive information on falconry and a good introduction to the details of the sport, go to The Modern Apprentice.

To get more information on how to become a falconer in Oregon, apply for an Oregon Falconry license, or to study and take the Oregon Falconry Exam, check out the ODFW Falconry Program webpage.

To get help in finding a sponsor in Oregon, contact our Apprenticeship Coordinator.

For general information on Falconry, see our Links Page.