Falconry: The Basics

With Gavin Dolman

"There is something very majestic about the medieval art of Falconry and ever since my introduction to the sport some years ago." Gavin Dolman, shares his ten top tips to becoming a professional falconer.

Falconry is the art and sport of flying birds of prey at wild quarry in their natural environment. When I first looked into falconry I was given some great advice and if I was to list some ‘essentials’ for newcomers, at the top of the list would be the first thing I was taught: ‘have the utmost respect for your bird and its quarry’. Most other aspects of falconry can be learnt or accommodated with time and patience but it is so important to remember this rule. Training a bird of prey takes patience and dedication, in short, you will only get out what you put in – however, if you do put the time in it really is one of the most rewarding sites you will ever see in hunting!

Below is a suggested list of ‘items to consider’ if you are considering Falconry. There is no set way to go about things although there is some excellent literature available via films, books and social media. 

  • Ensure that you can commit the time to becoming a falconer.
  • Consider a day’s 'Falconry Experience' if you have never done it before. There are plenty available online and it'' help you to get a true experience of what it’s these birds are like up close. 
  • Spend time researching what kind of bird you would like to fly. Remember, different birds fly different quarry, consider both of these but enjoy researching them!
  • Decide if you would like to fly your birds with dogs and if so what kind of dog. Again, research introducing each other and all associated considerations. You can also fly birds of prey with ferrets!
  • Take the time to ensure you prepare your equipment right, everything from the mews (where the bird will live) to its bow perch, surroundings of the mews, items to keep your bird entertained etc.
  • Part of falconry is weighing your bird regularly. Make sure you have all of the other necessary equipment like weighing scales and training devices and a glove!
  • Speak to reputable breeders and get some advice. Go and see your bird and its parents if possible so you can see their behaviour, of the bird and the breeder!
  • When you bring your bird home expect it to take a few days to settle in! Talk to it and let it see you, get to know it and it to know you!
  • Spend every spare hour reading, watching YouTube videos and trawling the forums gaining every piece of advice you can to make your experience enjoyable!
  • Remember, falconry is the sport of Kings! You don’t want to lose your bird after all this effort so master the falconry knot as if your life depended on it!

Birds of prey are very intelligent and are born to hunt! They will work for you given the quarry and skills. Cherish that thought and enjoy falconry like so many of us do. It is an incredible pleasure to a part of and I wish anyone considering it lots of luck and success!