Preparing to Become an Apprentice Falconer

Preparing for a Falconry Apprenticeship in Oregon

Falconry is hunting with a trained raptor. Apprentices spend two years learning from another another falconer (a sponsor) during which time apprentices trap a Red-tailed Hawk or American Kestrel and train it to hunt cooperatively. This takes a lot of time and patience, with a lot of skill building and learning along the way. Some falconers have fine-tuned kiting and ballooning to get their large falcons to climb to 1,000s of feet and wait-on. The focus of an apprentice is much more grounded: to teach their charge to pursue wild game in a cooperative hunt.

To be a successful apprentice, you’ll need to have the passion and drive to work with a raptor to pursue and kill wild quarry (rabbits, starlings, ducks, sparrows, quail). While raptor flight and education shows might impress you with falcons and hawks on the glove or even short flights, in falconry you set your hawk free and go hunting with it.

The following is a list of key aspects that a sponsor is looking for when taking on a falconry apprentice in Oregon. While you can try to find a sponsor and jump right into the sport, that rarely works because so much about falconry involves preparation. Falconry is full of challenges and hurdles. One of the bigger ones is usually finding a sponsor, a Master or General falconer who agrees to take you on as an apprentice for 2 years. That is a long time for a stranger to volunteer to help you.

Sponsors are looking for someone who:

  • is able to make the significant commitment of time and resources necessary to become a successful falconer
  • understands that falconry centers around hunting a trained raptor on wild quarry
  • is committed to following the applicable laws and regulations
  • has read most of the available falconry manuals and is familiar with the basics

In the end, those who can show they have a passion and drive for hunting, and the dedication to teach a hawk or falcon to hunt cooperatively with them, are more likely to get a sponsor and become an apprentice. Even still, those wanting to become apprentices need to have done their homework and learned a lot before approaching a sponsor. The best thing you can do is hunt, hunt, hunt! Get your license, get your hunter safety card, and learn to hunt with a gun or bow. Hunt the quarry you’ll pursue with a raptor: ducks, quail, pheasant, upland game, starlings, rabbits. Once you are hunting, sponsors are more likely to take you on as an apprentice. If you don’t know how to hunt with a gun or bow, how are you going to hunt with a raptor?
Are you still interested in learning more about what it takes to become an apprentice? If so, click here for Falconry Books for Apprentices.
OFA created a set of recommended guidelines for Sponsors and Apprentices to help guide expectations for both parties. You’ll find a copy of those listed here both in Word (docx) and in PDF. While these are general guidelines, our hope is that they encourage clear communication on expectations from Sponsors and from Apprentices. With so many different sponsors and apprentices out there, this set of guidelines can help level the playing field of setting up the experience to be a success.

1. OFA Sponsors and Apprentices Expectations and Agreement (Word)
2. OFA Sponsors and Apprentices Expectations and Agreement (PDF)