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april 2014

pursuit issue nine

Your FREE Online Falconry Magazine

introduction “I would like to thank you all, for supporting my magzine since its launch last September. It humbles me to think that PURSUIT has been read by over 70,000 people from all corners of the globe� 2

pursuit falconry magazine

Yet another issue completed, but this time PURSUIT is acknowledging the many women falconers within our community. I have tried to showcase a crosssection of women involved in modern falconry and birds of prey from around the world and I hope that you all enjoy reading this issue.

Some articles are bilingual and I hope I can bring more articles in multiple languages in time. I will continue to develop the look of this magazine as we grow and develop and if I can encourage more falconers to share their experiences I will always be happy to publish their stories.

Also, I am proud to say, I do have more a personal interest in this month’s edition, because my 11 year old daughter, ‘Harriet’ has written her first article for my magazine, in both English and her native Welsh tongue, about her experience in flying a Tiercel Peregrine for the first time. I can honestly say, I’m a very proud father!

So, please enjoy this edition and share it to your friends around the falconry world. Good Hawking. Neil Davies - Editor Pursuit Falconry Magazine is published by Neil Davies and promotes the art Falconry & Hawking. Please be aware all images and text is copyright © Neil Davies 2014 and the contributing writers, photographers and artists. No part of this magazine can be used without the written approval of the Editor or its contributors. To advertise, submit articles or photographs, please email the editor:

Front Cover image courtesy of Elisabeth Leix © 2014

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world falconry

news Statement of the International Association for Falconry and the Conservation of Birds of Prey regarding the Illegal Wildlife Trade. The International Association for Falconry and the Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF) is the international representative body for Falconers. The IAF has 90 member organizations and represents falconers from 73 member nations with a number of additional nations afforded observer status within our organization.

“Falconry is a constant reminder to us of the forces of nature, of the inter-relationship between living things and the land they share, and of our own dependence on Nature.� Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan


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The IAF is an International NGO Member of the IUCN, has the right to send a representative to meetings of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention, represents falconers at the meetings of major international conservation conventions including CBD, CITES, and the CMS and is a signatory to the Raptors MoU of CMS. The IAF is,

therefore, a significant international conservation organization and is strongly supportive of sustainable use as an essential conservation tool as envisaged by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). As such, the IAF holds strong views regarding the illegal trade in wildlife and issues the following statement: Concerned at the increasing levels of illegal trade in elements of wildlife and the involvement of organized crime as well as organizations responsible for political instability within this trade, the IAF wishes to state unequivocally that IAF opposes all use and trade of wildlife that is unsustainable and illegal. The IAF also recognizes that well-managed, sustainable trade and use can contribute

both to conservation and sustainable livelihoods. Recognizing that illegal trade and the unsustainable use of wildlife presents a serious challenge to the conservation of the world’s biodiversity, the IAF condemns this trade and expresses its absolute contempt for all engaged in illegal activity. Similarly we will use our resources to expose those involved and bring the perpetrators to justice. Aware that there is a current international emphasis on regulation and lawenforcement to halt this illegal trade, we have concern that this approach alone will be unsuccessful and possibly be counter-productive. We believe that any approach must represent a balance between prevention of illegal trade and the encouragement, if possible, of legitimate and sustainable use. Our concerns are based on the following points: • Illegal trade is, by definition, practiced by criminals. If trade in a commodity is illegal, it loses value to legitimate traders but its value may be enhanced on the black-market favouring the development of illegal trade and the involvement of organized crime. • Banning the use of, or trade in, a natural commodity removes the value of that asset to communities within the source countries. This further impoverishes those communities while removing an incentive to conserve the commodity.

• Rigid regulation and trade bans will prevent the development of sustainable use projects which can enhance conservation of wildlife, combat illegal trade and reward the communities involved in legitimate sustainable trade. Understanding that a balanced approach to combating illegal trade in wildlife is essential for success, we call for caution in relying on simplistic solutions involving only increased regulation and legislation. Such solutions may be attractive to the general public, particularly in developed nations while sustainable use is a more complex concept that may not gain ready acceptance. It must be the responsibility of all involved in this effort to seek a balance between increased law-enforcement and regulated sustainable trade. Similarly it is our responsibility to educate and inform the general public, legislators and funders regarding these principles. Realizing that there are concerns within the falconry community and conservationists relating to wild-life crime, the IAF plans to address this through two significant projects: 1. The Saker Falcon is currently of conservation concern having been up-listed to Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). One of the factors leading to the decline in populations of this species is unsustainable trade. The IAF

has been actively engaged in the Saker Task Force of the Raptors MoU of CMS. This MoU has recently produced the draft Global Action Plan for conservation of this falcon. This Plan is firmly based around the development of sustainable use of the species and one part of the plan is designed to develop communication involving Falconers in the Gulf region, Falcon Hospitals in that region and falcon trappers so as to develop a true idea of the extent of trade and to measure this. The IAF plans to contribute to this project and is working to produce funding for it. 2. Most falconry raptors are provided through captive breeding, while these breeding projects have also contributed to restoration efforts in the wild. A small proportion of falconry raptors are obtained from wild populations based on scientifically determined sustainable quotas. There remains concern regarding falconry birds which are taken illegally. The IAF is planning an ambitious registration scheme, initially based in Europe but planned to extend world-wide that will prevent the laundering of illegal raptors and halt this illegal use. The support of conservation organizations and regulatory authorities will be essential for the success of this project. Dr. A Lombard, President International Association for Falconry. April 2014.

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What does falconry mean to me?

Elisabeth Leix Was bedeutet Falknerei fĂźr mich? As a girl of 12 I lost my heart to a kestrel, which I raised and cared for with my father. Since that time, hardly a day has passed without my thoughts or actions being somehow related to raptors. I quickly realized that simply keeping birds of prey was not enough for me. I wanted to work with them, and see


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them y and hunt. I wanted to watch as they performed naturally under my guidance. Because deep inside my heart, I am a huntress. I want to feel the excitement of the hunt, succeed by understanding both the prey and predator, and use hawks and falcons as my weapons.

Schon als 12-jähriges Mädchen habe ich mein Herz an einem Turmfalken verloren, den mein Vater und ich gemeinsam aufgezogen und betreut haben. Seit dieser Zeit ist kaum ein Tag vergangen, an dem ich nicht in irgendeiner Art und Weise mit Greifvögeln zu tun hatte.

Schnell erkannte ich, dass mir nur das Halten von Greifvögeln nicht genug war. Ich wollte mit ihnen arbeiten, sie sollten frei fliegen und vor allem sollten sie jagen. Sie sollten das tun, was sie in freier Natur auch tun würden, jedoch unter meiner Anleitung, denn im tiefsten Inneren meines Herzens bin ich eine Jägerin.

Ich will die Spannung bei der Jagd spüren und zum Erfolg kommen mit dem Wissen über Jäger und Gejagte, mit dem Beizvogel und mit der Waffe. Meine ersten Erfahrungen sammelte ich aus dem Beobachten von Wildfalken und schaute so manchen Falkner über die Schultern.

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My first observations were of wild peregrines, and of watching some trained one fly while looking over the shoulder of other falconers. Quickly I knew that the peregrine was the ultimate falcon for me. Not only is their beauty captivating, but their hunting flights preyed upon my mind.


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Seeing spectacular stoops from high pitches awakened in me the desire to do this with my own falcon. And today, witnessing such a stoop still brings me an incredible feeling of awe. It’s like an addiction that captivates the senses but is never quite satisfied.

Beyond patience and empathy, falconry requires one to pay attention to many subtleties. Each flight provides a new set of uncertainties to inform the falconer of about both the nature and behavior of the individual hawk. The relationship of understanding and mutual trust that develops

over time is further challenged when the falconer must teach the bird without the benefit of speech. And, of course, successful hunting requires field skills and knowledge of your quarry. Knowing where to find a particular game species, how it behaves when being pursued, and how best to approach it to give the trained hawk the advantage, are part of this skill set. Attention to detail is a must, along with contingency actions for when things do not go according to plan. The scenario is complex and constantly changing. That is an incredible incentive to face up to falconry for me. My first hunting flight with a peregrine, some 30 years ago, was far from the dazzling stoop of a wild falcon. But as I gained experience, and as both telemetry and training methods improved, some of our flights are now very close to those of wild peregrines. Due to digital media and the worldwide exchange of information with like-minded people, training high-flying falcons is no longer the challenge it once was. The problems now are dwindling populations of the quarry upon which falconry depends. As falconers, we must address the declines of small game and game bird populations with an eye towards long-term management of these species. Otherwise, what’s the point of training finely groomed hunting raptors, like high-flying falcons? Without wild game to pursue, falconry has no real purpose and it loses its appeal for me and others like me, wishing to maintain the time-honored traditions of hunting wild quarry with trained birds of prey.

Schnell wusste ich, dass der Wanderfalke DER Falke aller Falken für mich ist. Nicht nur seine Schönheit hat mich vom ersten Tag an fasziniert, seine Art des Jagens war es, die mich nicht los ließ. Hoch, aus dem freien Luftraum in einem atemberaubenden Steilstoß seine Beute zu schlagen, erweckte in mir die Sehnsucht dies mit einem eigenen Falken zu tun und noch heute verspüre ich bei einem grandiosen Steilstoß eine unglaubliche Ehrfurcht. Es ist wie eine Sucht die die Sinne betört und von der man nicht genug bekommen kann. Neben der Geduld und Einfühlungsvermögen erfordert Falknerei, die Aufmerksamkeit auf viele Feinheiten. Jeder Jagdflug bietet eine neue Situation von Ungewissheit, die den Falkner sowohl über die Natur und das Verhalten der einzelnen Beizvögel aufklärt. Das Verhältnis von Verständnis und gegenseitigem Vertrauen, das sich im Laufe der Zeit entwickelt wird weiter gefordert, wenn der Falkner seinen Beizvogel ohne Sprach etwas vermitteln muss. Und, natürlich, eine erfolgreiche Jagd erfordert die Fähigkeiten und Kenntnisse des zu jagenden Wildes. Zu wissen, wo eine bestimmte Wildarten zu finden ist, wie es sich verhält, wenn es verfolgt wird, und wie man den Beizvogel die besten Chance bietet, sind Teil dieser Fähigkeiten. Die Liebe zum Detail ist ein Muss, samt Notfallmaßnahmen, wenn die Dinge nicht nach Plan gehen. Das Szenario ist komplex und ändert sich ständig. Das ist ein unglaublicher Anreiz für mich sich intensiv mit der Falknerei auseinander zu setzen.

Meine ersten Jagdflüge mit dem Wanderfalken, die nun fast 30 Jahre her sind, waren weit entfernt von den atemberaubenden Stößen der Wildfalken. Jedoch mit den gesammelten Erfahrungen, der besseren Telemetrie und ausgefeilten Trainingsmethoden kommen manche Flüge, denen der Wildfalken mittlerweile sehr nahe. Durch die digitalen Medien und dem weltweiten Austausch mit Gleichgesinnten ist die Herausforderung des Abtragens von hoch fliegenden Falken nicht mehr das was es einst war. Das Problem jetzt ist, das immer mehr schwindende Niederwild das zur Falknerei gehört. Als Falkner müssen wir den Rückgang des Niederwilds ansprechen und mit Blick auf nachhaltige Maßnahmen diese Arten erhalten. Was sonst ist der Grund dafür einen Beizvogel abzutragen? Ohne jagdbares Wild hat die Falknerei nicht wirklich eine Zielsetzung und verliert seinen Reiz für mich und diejenigen die sich wünschen die altehrwürdige Tradition der Jagd auf Wild mit ausgebildeten Greifvögeln weiterhin zu pflegen. Heute jage ich mit meinem Wanderfalken und eine Deutsch Kurzhaar auf Niederwild und mit dem Habicht auf Krähen. Ob mit dem hoch anwartenden Wanderfalken oder dem schneidigen Habicht, das Ziel bleibt das gleiche: das Abtragen eine Beizvogels, das Abführen eines verlässlich gut vorstehenden oder stöbernden Jagdhund und das Mitbestimmen der Maßnahmen zwischen dem abgetragenen Beizvogel und

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dem Wild, machen die Falknerei zu einer einzigartigen Jagdart.

Today I hunt with peregrine falcons and a German Pointer on game birds and with a goshawk on crows. Whether with a high-flying falcon or dashing goshawk, the goal remains the same: to cultivate a working relationship with a raptor, to develop a dog as a suitable and reliable hunting partner, and to participate in the interactions between trained raptors and their quarry via this unique method of hunting. The many hours that I have spent with my birds and dogs in the field have sharpened my senses. And like other art forms, falconry teaches us important lessons for life. Understanding the circle of life helps us to assume responsibility for all of the many parts. And to this end, we must endeavor to preserve raptors and their prey by teaching others to recognize their values and the role they play in our environment.

Die vielen Stunden, die ich zusammen mit meinen Vögeln und Hunden im Feld verbracht habe, haben meine Sinne geschärft. Und wie auch andere Formen der Kunst, lehrt uns die Falknerei wichtige Lektionen fürs Leben. Das Verständnis für den Lebenskreislauf hilft uns Verantwortung zu übernehmen für alle diese vielen Bereiche. Und zu guter Letzt müssen wir alle Anstrengungen unternehmen die Greifvögel und ihre Beutetiere zu schützen, indem wir andere darauf aufmerksam machen auf deren Wichtigkeit und deren Rolle sie spielen in unserer Umwelt. Ich bin sehr dankbar, dass ich die Falknerei als Leidenschaft in mir trage. Als eine moderne Frau in einer unglaublich technisierten Welt, werde ich alles tun was möglich ist, um die Falknerei zu fördern. Ebenso werde ich mich bemühen, das kulturelle Erbe und die Werte der Falknerei für künftige Generationen zu schützen und zu bewahren.

I am grateful that I can carry on falconry as my passion. As a modern woman in an increasingly technical world, I will do everything possible to promote falconry today. Likewise, I strive to protect and preserve the intangible values and cultural heritage of falconry for future generations.

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by Harriet Davies

Last year my Dad had an imprint tiercel Peregrine off one of his falconry friends. I decided to call him ‘Mars’. 14

pursuit falconry magazine

Once he was ready to be trained, my Dad trained him at work at the Hawk Conservancy in Hampshire and I helped him on weekends when he came back to Llanelli, to see me. After a couple of weeks my Dad told me ‘Mars was ready to fly free. I was so excited to see him fly free. Then, my Dad said I could fly him free for first time. I was very pleased as this would be the first time flying a falcon.

All that day, I practiced my lure swinging in my Nanna’s back garden, until my Dad was was ready to drive to the Gower to fly ‘Mars’. My Dad showed me how totest the telemetry and tie the quail breast to the lure and then we we ready to go. I was very excited. We drove about 30 minutes to a quiet part of the Gower. My Dad, took ‘Mars’ off his cadge and handed ‘Mars’ to me.

The telemetry was tested again and fitted on to his tail mount. The we walked across a large area of moorland up to a area quite high up, so we could see for miles. I handed ‘Mars’ to my Dad and he took off his equipment and I had one more practice with the lure. My Dad said, ‘Are you ready?’ I said ‘YES!’ and he took off the hood. I started to swing the lure. ‘Mars’ bobbed his head

and had a shake and he was off flying free! ‘Mars’ started to pick up speed and he spun around me and smacked the lure really hard. He swung up into the air then landed gently on the lure. He quickly started to eat. My Dad and I, sat right next to him, while he covered his food with his wings. When he had finished, my Dad let me pick him up and helped me put on his jesses. I was so happy! It was the first time to fly a Peregrine.

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14TH-15TH June 2014 A celebration of falconry and birds of prey 9 9 9 9 9 9 9

Full access to the bird of prey centre Trade Stands Flying Demonstrations Dog Training Demo Seminars Camping (please pre-book) Saturday Evening BBQ

9am until 5.30pm


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pursuit falconry magazine

PHOTO OF THE MONTH © Graeme Scott 2014

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First steps on the ladder Ria May, Falconry Apprentice at The Hawk Conservancy Trust

I started to have an interest in birds of prey when I was about 13, going on holiday to Cornwall and seeing the buzzards soaring above open ďŹ elds was when I really started to notice them. 20

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feet as she was on my fist for the first time was incredible. I particularly enjoy working with the Owls. Two of my favorites including ‘Nigel’, a White-faced Owl and ‘Troy’, the Tawny Owl.

While at college, I worked at the Hawk Conservancy Trust for two days a week and continually

One of the main things that kept me coming back to the park, was not only to learn more about the birds, but the really friendly and helpful staff that would answer any questions I had. I decided to find out more about them and for my 14th birthday, I was given a gift voucher, to attend a ‘Junior Falconer’s Experience’ at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, in Andover. I had the opportunity to fly a range of different species and learnt a lot from the staff running the day. My highlight of the day was flying a Harris Hawk called ‘Claire’ and a young Milky Eagle Owl called ‘Tolkein’, (Who’d have thought I would be flying these birds on a daily basis today!).

The staff had always inspired me and it was what they did on a day-to-day basis, that I wanted to do as a career. In my last year at school, I had to decide what I wanted to do and which career path to take. After realising I wanted to work with animals, (hopefully birds of prey in the future) I applied to study Animal Management at Sparsholt Agricultural College in Winchester.

learnt more and more. I started to assist on experience days and even got the chance to fly some of the birds in displays. Assignments at college focused on birds of prey and anything I could research was based at the Trust. Doing this increased my knowledge a lot and really gave me a lot of experience working in the industry. Just before leaving college, I was offered an apprenticeship at the Hawk Conservancy. A fantastic opportunity and a great entry into the worlds of birds of prey.

It was after this day, that my passion with birds of prey began and it drove me to learn everythingI could about raptors.

I have already learnt so much, not only the birds but about myself and that you really can aim high and achieve your dreams. Working with the birds everyday proves that to me.

I started volunteering at the Hawk Conservancy every Sunday, which involved everything from day to day maintenance on the park, working with the public on crowd control during the displays, holding birds, helping in the bird of prey hospital an general anything else that needed doing.

As soon as I started, I never looked back, from the very first visit to the college, taking in the view of the fields and wildlife made the journey on the college bus worthwhile!

There would also be highlights that would happen such as getting the chance to hold a female African Fish Eagle named ‘Victoria’, and to feel the strength and power in her

Sparsholt encouraged me so much to follow this career path and into looking into the profession in more detail, I knew I had made the right decision.

The apprenticeship has improved my confidence a lot, and taught me lessons in everyday life. No way, did I think after so many times listening to the Vulture Restaurant, that I would get the chance to talk it and be able to educate people about vultures. It is a great feeling to know you are helping in some way with conservation of raptors.

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Memoirs of an Artist Naturalist by George Edward Lodge Printed by The George Edward Lodge Trust 24

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Hooded Talons Quality handcrafted hoods & falconry furniture

Tel: +(44) 7723 442669 Website: may issue nine


Brithawk Falconry Furniture British made braided falconry equipment e:

Using a Jess Extender by Zoe Jones - Brithawk Falconry Furniture Probably the most underused piece of furniture here in the United Kingdom is the humble jess extender. It’s certainly very popular in other countries so have you ever wondered why it isn’t more commonly used here? Well I certainly did, so I made some and used them and it wasn’t very long at all before I realised how such a simple thing vastly improved the management of tethered hawks. Tethered hawks break feathers, notch and crack their beaks chewing their furniture and become tangled, sometimes even fatally. The jess extender has been found in my experience, reduces the likelihood of any of the above occurring.


pursuit falconry magazine

The obvious method to prevent tail breakage is to stop the hawk from ever bating, but not only is that difficult it’s also at times impractical. Why is it that the deck feathers are so often the first to break? Because the swivel, attached to the mews jesses is quite a large lump and snaps up through the tail with every bate the hawk makes. The single, slim jess extender easily passes between feathers without causing anywhere near the same impact. Birds that chew and bite at their furniture can be frustrating for the falconer in many ways. Some, especially Prairie Falcons and their hybrids seem to take great delight in chewing at the swivel and the furniture immediately attached to it,

very often notching and/or cracking the upper mandible in the process. The jess extender drops the swivel away from the bird, keeping it out of easy reach. A very common cause of wrap ups and tangles occurs when one or both of the mews jesses slip down the swivel and jam its rotating action. The jess extender neatly fixes the ends of the mews jesses together and is far more inclined to stay in place on the top ring of the swivel. Simple, easy to use and very effective. Why not give one a try?

Braided Jesses

Braided Extender

Sampo Swivel

Braided Loop Leash

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What does falconry mean to me?

Laura Leix In welcher Beziehung stehe ich z I can`t even remember what were my first experiences related to falconry. Hawks in the house and in the garden were always present and a part of our daily life. In our living room, kitchen and bedroom are dog baskets. Outdoors are falcon chambers and a pigeon house, and now even a chicken coop.


pursuit falconry magazine

Whether I was with raised around hunting or if I’m gone during the hawking with my parents through the fields, I never had the feeling to do something unnatural or even strange. When I was a little girl, I could not imagine that there are people who live differently from me. To experience the

Ich kann mich gar nicht mehr daran erinnern, was meine ersten Erfahrungen im Zusammenhang mit der Falknerei waren. Falken im Haus und im Garten waren und sind immer da, also ein Teil des täglichen Lebens. In unserem Wohnzimmer, Küche und Schlafzimmer stehen Hundekörbe und vor der Haustür die Falkenvolieren und der Taubenschlag, sowie inzwischen auch noch ein Hühnerstall. Egal ob ich mit am Ansitz zur Jagd war oder ob ich während der Beizjagd mit meinen Eltern durch die Felder gelaufen bin, ich hatte nie das Gefühl etwas Unnatürliches oder gar Sonderbares zu tun.

zur Falknerei? fascination with birds of prey and the curiosity of what my parents like about this hobby prompted me to express my interest when I was 9 years old, to fly a bird of prey by myself. Of course, my parents supported this plan, which meant that I soon had my first kestrel. In the years that followed I trained another

Als ich Klein war, konnte ich mir gar nicht vorstellen, dass es Menschen gibt die anders leben. Die Faszination für Greifvögel und die Neugier zu erleben, was meine Eltern an diesem Hobby so schätzen, veranlassten mich schon mit 9 Jahren dazu den Wunsch zu äußern, selbst einen Greifvogel zu fliegen. Selbstverständlich unterstützten meine Eltern diesen Plan, was dazu führte, dass ich schon bald meinen ersten Turmfalken hatte. In den darauffolgenden Jahren konnte ich einen weiteren Turmfalken und einen Harris Hawk fliegen, mit dem ich auch meine ersten jagdlichen Erfahrungen machen konnte. Außerdem unterstützte ich meinen Vater beim Abtragen und Federspieltraining von einem Wanderfalken und Gerfalken. Für mich bedeutet die Falknerei Verantwortung zu übernehmen, aber gleichzeitig auch etwas dafür zurückzubekommen. Das Falkenfliegen stellt für mich

einen richtigen Ausgleich dar, denn in diesen Situationen lebt man einfach vollkommen für den Moment und es zählt nur das hier und jetzt. Ich bin zwar noch relativ jung und verfüge noch nicht über die umfangreiche Erfahrung der Falknerei in seiner ganzen Bedeutung wie z.B. meine Eltern, aber ich denke das Gefühl dabei ist immer dasselbe. Durch die Entscheidung einen Vogel einzufliegen, entscheidet man sich nicht nur dafür Verantwortung für einen Jagdkameraden zu übernehmen, sondern es fordert so manche Eigenschaft auf, wie Geduld, Konsequenz und bringt einen dazu sich weiterzuentwickeln. Durch das Falkenfliegen und das Jagen wird das Bewusstsein für die Natur um einen herum verstärkt und man sieht die Zusammenhänge der Lebenskreisläufe mit anderen Augen. Vor allem aber gibt die Spannung die bei einem guten Flug entsteht so manchem Sommer- oder Herbsttag das gewisse Etwas. Da letztes Jahr von vorneherein feststand, dass ich wegen Zeitmangel, hervorgerufen durch Schulabschluss, Freunden und Freizeitaktivitäten nicht genug Zeit haben würde, um einen eigenen Beizvogel einzufliegen, habe ich meinem Vater bei einem jungen Wanderfalkenterzel aus unserer Zucht geholfen. Weil er wirklich gute Anlagen hat und ein netter Vogel ist, werden ihn meine Eltern in diesem Jahr weiter fliegen und jagdlich einsetzen. Wenn es funktioniert, dann werde ich mich sicherlich mit einbringen, doch nur

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kestrel and a Harris Hawk with which I could make my first hunting experience. In addition, I assisted my father during these years by handling and lure training a peregrine and gyrfalcon. For me, falconry means to take responsibility, but at the same time to give back something to it. To fly falcons represents for me a proper balance, because in these situations you just live completely for the moment and all that counts is the here and now. I’m still relatively young and do not have any extensive experience of falconry in its whole meaning, as my parents do. But, I think the feeling here is always the same. The decision to fly a bird requires a responsibility to the bird for a hunting companion and it demands some characteristics like patience, consistency,


pursuit falconry magazine

and to evolve. By hawking and hunting the awareness of nature is reinforced around you and can see the relationships between the life cycles through different eyes. But above all, the excitement during a good flight in a summer or fall day makes it for something special. Since last year, it was clear that due to lack of time, because of my education, friends and leisure activities that I would not have enough time to fly my own bird, therefore I helped my father with a young peregrine tiercel from our breeding. Because he has really good facilities and a nice behavior, my parents will fly him further this year and use him for hunting. If it works, then I will surely be involved, but to take the falcon only for my own ego alone would be unfair to him. I’ll start in May with my final exams and after then I´ll work

one year and travel around in Europe before I start my studies next year. After that it remains to be seen whether I can keep a hawk or not. There is no question, when I’m ready again and to have enough time, then I will care for a hawk. Falconry is simply something which I feel very comfortable. I am glad that my parents have always taken me into the field, whether for falconry or hunting with a weapon. It certainly was not always easy especially for my mother, who always must plan and organize everything. I’ve learned at this young age so many things that the school never could me teach and for that I am very grateful. It has shown me that the experience of nature can be much more exciting than some modern entertainment methods.

aus Egoismus ihn alleine für mich zu beanspruchen wäre ihm gegenüber unfair. Ich werde im Mai mit meinen Abiturprüfungen beginnen und habe dann vor ein Jahr zu arbeiten und zu reisen, bevor ich im nächsten Jahr mein Studium beginnen möchte. Spätestens dann wird sich zeigen, ob ich einen Beizvogel abtragen und halten kann oder nicht. Außer Frage jedoch steht, dass wenn ich bereit bin mir wieder genug Zeit zu nehmen, einen Beizvogel abtragen werde, denn die Falknerei ist einfach etwas womit ich mich sehr wohlfühle. Ich bin froh darüber, dass meine Eltern, mich immer mitgenommen haben, egal ob zur Beizjagd oder zur Jagd mit der Waffe. Es war sicherlich nicht immer einfach gerade für meine Mutter, die hierbei immer alles planen und organisieren musste. Ich habe in diesem jungen Alter so viele Dinge gelernt, die mir die Schule niemals hätte vermitteln können und dafür bin ich sehr dankbar. Es hat mir gezeigt, dass die Erfahrungen draußen in freier Natur so viel spannender sein können als so manche modernen Unterhaltungsmethoden.

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pursuit falconry magazine

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After 17 years of flying goshawks I decided to go back to my roots in falconry, the good o’ red tail hawk, it had been a long time since I have flown one and you don’t forget. Boo is a nice size hawk at 1030 gr, because out here you have very few perches and having a lighter bird makes for better fist hawking. When I trapped Boo 2 years ago I felt like I hit the jackpot with this dark eyed beauty and I did. Our main prey is blacktailed jacks, a hare that is between 5 – 8 pounds. Wasn’t sure how Boo would do but being trapped in this area I felt confident that jacks would be no problem and that was an understatement. The time had come for Boo’s first flight at game, nervous as all get up, we hit the field and BAM jack up, Boo in hot pursuit, slams in and misses, no problem I was thrilled at this compact retail’s ability to take off of the fist like a gos. Time for slip #2 and slammed it!


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Boo had it by the haunches and that jack drug him over 100 yards, through pig wire, sage brush and tall grass, they looked like a whirling dervish spinning and jumping, but Boo held on and we finally reached him after several attempts to stop this jack from moving. The jack finally drug Boo off and he lost the prize, but my concern was, is he alright..? I picked him up and he was huffing and puffing, completely covered in dust and not one broken feather. This was the bird that was going to give me an exciting season of hawking. As an immy this bird took more jacks than I have ever seen before, no backing off, long flights and 75% of the catches were off the fist. This was a hawk that would not jump to

the fist but walk down the bow perch and get the tidbit, was aloof and you could tie him in knots and having no care in the world. I am so glad I stuck it out with this firecracker. I had some scary times in his immy season as we have many ferruginous hawks in this neck of the prairie. One time he took off the fist and was making a beeline to now where, what could he be doing I thought to myself, repeated attempts to call him back failed and then he makes a 90 degree turn and barrels down on a ferruginous and knocks her off her prairie dog kill and has it for himself. As the ferruginous looked on he calmly began to eat it and I had a long run to get to him, called him off the prairie dog and called it a day. As Boo went into his second season we were able to find more cottontails, of course those were like taking candy from a baby for him and his method changed from his immy season, he would take those long shots on jacks and win, time after time, at one point it got so we weren’t in the field 5 minutes and BAM caught a jack, so we doubled up often to make it worth the time to get ready and get to the field. This is a hawk that will get on the poles and actually follow the horse riders as they kick up game, to him it’s just another helper in the field. Boo also got a taste of his own medicine when 2 ferruginous hawks came in on him and took his prize of a jack, very worrisome for me as he took off and was hard to locate, but all turned out fine and we counted that as a kill for Boo.

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The unique wildlife designs of


So many under estimate a smaller red tail and feel they need a big boomer to take jacks or bust the cover, I am here, or should I say Boo is here to prove them wrong.

Alas the season is over and I have decided to intermew him again and see what next season brings for the maniac of this dry, arid patch of sand and sage.

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Hunting Eagle Lauren McGough There is something about the Golden Eagle. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. It has nothing to do with their impressive stature, but rather, what they are capable of.


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One might think they are slow and ineffective, but they are masterful. A female is ten pounds of pure power; a spring-loaded predator of sinew and electricity. She is lightning quick, full of explosive energy and incredible endurance.

She can blast off the fist in a flurry of violent wingbeats or stoop overhead with all the savvy and recklessness of a longwing. And most clearly - eagles love it. An eagle’s enthusiasm for chasing and killing wild quarry is infectious.

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Once an eagle realizes that you provide them with that opportunity, in my mind, there is no easier relationship in falconry. I was very fortunate have first learned to fly eagles in Scotland. Heather moorland and the ghostly mountain hares that inhabit it might still be my favorite landscape and quarry. The undulating hills lend themselves to both offthe-fist and waiting-on flying, and though the hares might not be as swift as their lowland


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counterparts, they know precisely how to use the lay of the land to their advantage. I have many fond memories of running breathlessly through heather, neck craned upward watching a spectacular flight play out before me. I’ll be forever grateful to Neil and John Hunter, who lent me their eagles to fly for several seasons, as well as to Andrew KnowlesBrown and Roy Lupton - I could not have asked for a better foundation in flying eagles. I had long dreamed of flying

Golden Eagles in Mongolia. The idea of traversing the frozen Altai mountains on horseback in pursuit of foxes was one that captivated my imagination. Through the incredible support of Stephen Bodio, I secured grant funding to spend two seasons there. It was a baptism of fire, but I learned to find and track foxes, learned to trap passage eagles, to carry them on my right hand, to ride through snow and rock and on sheer mountainsides, to eat mutton and to sleep in a

yurt. Mongolian Kazakhs are a kind and generous people. They have very little, but without hesitation, they share everything they have. Kukan was the fifty-nine year old master whom I apprenticed under. He had a four year old female eagle that was spectacularly deadly on foxes (One sunny winter’s day I watched her catch three foxes - an exceedingly difficult feat in Central Asia). During a grueling fourteen day expedition, Kukan and his friends helped

me trap a second-year female Golden Eagle to fly. These eagles already predate on foxes in the wild, and it is a short process between trapping and hawking. In fact, it was only a month between the trap and the first kill with my new eagle, Alema. Foxes are wily and, as a predator species in a relatively barren landscape, an area cannot support many. We would leave shortly after sunrise, around ten in the morning, and hawk until

sunset. If you were wise in your search for foxes, you could expect between one to three slips a day. These were always difficult slips. Distance is always a factor, and a successful eagle in Mongolia is an eagle with confidence and endurance. The best strategy is to ride from mountaintop to mountaintop, with flushers riding in the valley below. Often the fox is merely a rust-colored spot scooting along in the distance - thus the initial height of the falconer is necessary in order

may issue nine


for the eagle to pursue an animal that may be more than a mile distant. It is difficult to overstate just how far some of these flight are. But the results can be unforgettable. My favourite flight went like this: I was riding along a narrow trail just from the summit on a sheer mountainside (I was often somewhat terrified at our precarious positions on mountains). Several hundred feet below stretched a valley which eventually led to more mountains on the horizon. I had Alema unhooded, trusting her to fly if a fox appeared while I negotiated the narrow trail. In an instant she was gone. She just bolted from


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the first - I couldn’t have held the jesses if I tried. She was powering away into the air over the valley. Finally I saw it - a tiny cascade of fur speeding across the valley trying to reach the next set of mountains. She maintained her height and kept powering away. After quite some time, she was finally over the fox. The fox stopped, it switched directions, and even started running in small circles - it knew of the imminent danger. Alema folded. Completely. She was a teardop and fell vertically all those hundreds of feet. I watched her from above - it was waiting-on from a whole new perspective. I could faintly hear the wind scream over her body as she

fell. She twisted all the way down, trying to keep up with the evasive movements of the fox. Then bam! She grabbed him. They tussled, but just as suddenly, the fox broke free and made its escape. It gave me emotional whiplash, but that stoop. The stoop! It might not have been one of the ten foxes she caught that season, but it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen streak across the sky. I am from Oklahoma, in the United States, and this last season was my first opportunity to fly a Golden Eagle in my own country. Oklahoma falconers are a good bunch, and I was very

thankful when Oscar Pack gave me his beautiful imprint female Golden Eagle to fly. She originated as a rehabilitated eagle; electrocuted shortly after fledgling she was missing the center toe on her left foot. If hawking in Mongolia is about distance and endurance, I was now doing precisely the opposite. I took a month long road trip to fly her off-the-fist on black-tailed jackrabbits in Kansas. This kind of flying is fast action sprints, oftentimes one immediately after the other. In the right areas, there are no shortage of these jackrabbits and speed and agility is the name of the game. Though we did get flights and catches that began a few hundred yards out,

much more often the jackrabbit would spring into being within fifty yards. The eagle that learns to really explode from the fist, immediately close the gap and pressure the jackrabbit by shadowing its movements or intimidating it into making a mistake is usually the most successful. I joined Chase Delles, who knows the hawking ground like the back of his hand, and Joe Atkinson, who was invaluable in his encouragement, in Kansas, and we had a wonderful time flying our eagles in the golden, flat fields. Though the camaraderie among friends that share the same obsession is special,

especially when everyone is successful in the field, there is also a magic in being alone. I will most remember the evenings. The earthy smell of native grasses and sage fills the air and the dried stalks crunch underfoot. The sun is low in the sky and the world is still. You can hear everything. You can see everything. You are walking deliberately, with your eagle on your fist unhooded. You are both so hyperaware of any stray movement that every songbird flitting by causes you both to involuntarily start. You both know that any second now a hare will appear. Any second...

may issue nine



pursuit falconry magazine

may issue nine


Born and raised in southern Wisconsin, USA, I have had an interest in raptors and wildlife since an early age. My mother was my biggest influence in learning to appreciate and respect nature. When I was a young girl, she would take me for afternoon drives to look for “hawks.” In those days, raptors were scarce due to the ill effects of DDT. When we finally spotted a red-tailed hawk, kestrel or a bald eagle, my mother would quickly stop the car and hand me the binoculars. Having grown up in North Dakota, she would tell me stories about her favorite experiences observing prairie falcons and kestrels there. Over the years, even into adulthood, she bought me many books about birds and wildlife. One of my favorites was ‘An Eagle to the


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Sky’ authored by Frances Hamerstrom, 1909-1998. Fran (the name she preferred) was an east coast debutante who became a Wisconsin biologist and pioneer as the first female falconer in the U.S. Now over thirty years later, many present day women are following her lead. Prior to falconry being legalized, everything Fran accomplished required that it be a scientific experiment with papers published about it that made it science. Falcons are my favorite raptors to read about, particularly the peregrine and the merlin. I have always been fascinated by their speed and maneuverability, and had hoped one-day to fly either of these species. For several years I worked at a veterinary hospital where I became involved in rehab and education with raptors, eventually founding my own

center in 1998: Hoo’s Woods. In an effort to learn more about reconditioning raptors I reached out to my state falconry club for assistance. It was at a Wisconsin Falconers’ Association meet that I saw my first peregrine fly; it belonged to Eric Ratering. From that moment I was hooked and knew this would be a passion I would forever fulfill. Much of my success with large falcons is credited to notable Wisconsin falconers; Jonathan Wilde and Eric Ratering. It was at the 2008 NAFA meet in Texas that I met Bruce Haak of Idaho who eventually assisted me in trapping and training my first female passage merlin named ‘BonBon’. The experience alone of trapping in Idaho was incredible, and

I will always be grateful to Bruce for helping me to fulfill one of my dreams. One of the most memorable experiences with Bon Bon was a series of flights at the 2010 NAFA meet in Kearney, Nebraska. The first day she was chased by a wild prairie falcon, marsh hawk and Cooper’s hawk all in the mix, eventually out flying them all. The following day she was ringing on a flock of starlings when suddenly she took off after a wild female Richardson’s and robbed it of a freshly caught starling. Later in the week she had a beautiful classic ringing flight on starlings from about a 400 foot pitch , taking one out of the air. Two weeks later after I returned home, I met up with several falconers in Wisconsin. My friend Dan Orth, who also flies merlins, took us to a nearby dairy farm. It was there we witnessed one of her

most intense flights when she chased a starling about 80 feet down the inside a safety cage ladder on a silo. We could see her stooping through the rungs with great precision and speed, never missing a beat. It was a nail biting experience and something I will never forget. I can’t imagine my life without a falconry bird. Falconry is a lifestyle that is not for everyone, but one I certainly have chosen for myself. For me, falconry is spending time with my bird, family member, alone with thoughts and a true connection with nature. Today there are approximately 4200 licensed falconers in the United States. It is estimated about 11% are females, which means falconry is still very much a male dominated sport. Having female role models in falconry is very important for

young women. They provide a way for young women interested in birds of prey to believe it is possible to achieve their dreams. Through my education programs and experiences in NAFA and the IAF I hope in some way that I am able to help a young person fulfill her/his passions and dreams of falconry. Dianne serves as the Great Lakes Director and Public Information Officer for the North American Falconers Association, Women’s Working Group Chair for the International Association for Falconry, South East Director for the Wisconsin Falconers Association and founder and Executive Director of Hoo’s Woods Raptor Education Center.

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Merlin Ringing Š Jeff Finch 2014


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may issue nine



pursuit falconry magazine

I was introduced to falconry at Pontefract castle in 2004 when I was 10 years old. I took part in a falconry display by Phil Turner Falconry and got to handle Harris Hawks and owls, I found my new passion. This lead directly to me being invited to the Royal Armouries where Phil Turner, was the resident Falconer. The invitation soon turned into regular weekly visits and after the winter break of 2004, Phil and I began my training, as a Falconer. Working there until 2011, I worked with a wide range of different birds of prey including; Vultures, Owls, Falcons, Eagles and Hawks. After training for 4 years, my mentor felt that I was ready to own my own bird, so on my 14th birthday, I received my first bird - “Tilly” the Barn Owl. From the day I got Tilly, I realised that I still had a lot to learn about full time care for raptors. I learned very quickly, and with much support, and Tilly has thrived in my care. In 2011, I got a second bird, a 3 year old African Spotted Eagle Owl called “Libby”. I had worked with her since she was 10 days old and we had built

up a very trusting relationship. We would go out into the display arena before the falconry display and do some flying whilst the public was arriving, this helped to build up ‘Libby’s’ confidence of flying in front of large groups of people so she would one day be a part of the show. After leaving high school, and still assisting Phil at the Armouries, I attended Askham Bryan College to study animal management and left in 2012 with a National Diploma in Animal Management.

In short time I was at the centre I helped release a Long Crested Eagle and a couple of African Barn Owls. The time spent with the birds of prey only made my love for falconry stronger.

After graduating, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa to spend 5 weeks working at an animal rehabilitation centre called ‘Moholoholo’.

On my return from Africa, I had decided to start my own business, KL Falconry. With the aim to share my passion and love for birds of prey with the world. Teaching old and young about these amazing creatures.

Whilst there, I worked with many different animals including; Lions, Leopards, Rhino, Cheetah, Servals, Bush Babies, Wild Dog, Hyena, Hornbills and much more. But it was working with wild and captive birds of prey that helped me develop my falconry skills. I also had the challenging opportunity to assist in the training of a pair of Lappetfaced Vultures. Not having these common among falconers in England, this was an amazing opportunity to work along side these beautiful creatures.

Fortunately,the business is thriving and so is my team of birds. Who now ,include a Chaco and a Western Screech Owls along with two male Harris’ Hawks, ‘Kobie’ & ‘Tex’.

CONTACT: Kira Weston - KL Falconry Tel: +44 (0)7525 467 491 Email: Web:

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pursuit falconry magazine

may issue nine


Italian falconer, Paola Falcone, from I Falchi di Rocca Romana. Back in 1991, I was introduced to Falconry by chance. I met a group of Falconers in Rome. Generally horses, dogs and animals have always been important for me, but to know the world of the Birds of Prey and to learn how to train them to hunt has been something that has changed my life. My first love, a male Goshawk, given me under not good physical conditions. But, with the help of my Falconry mentor and then companion Giancarlo Pirrotta, I was able in time to hunt with him at pheasants and crows. From that moment Birds of Prey, changed my life. I moved home and moved to the country, changed my job fromscientific technical information and I became Falconry equipment seller! This allowed me to widen my horizons and experiences throughout Europe and meeting falconers from many of the Falconry Associations in Europe . I began to breed, Goshawks and Sparrow hawks, and also to fly longwings, starting with a ¾ Gyr/ Saker, named ‘Sugar’, and a Peregrine falcon, called ‘Chiara’, who is 22 years old and I still fly today. From 2005, I have the Hawk Centre I Falchi di Rocca Romana in Trevignano romano, close to Rome, where families, schools and groups of tourists come to see the presentations of Eagles, Hawks, Buzzards and Owls in free flight. For the last 10 years with my team of falcons, I run a Bird control business working with companies in and around Lazio. Alongside, the bird shows and pest control I help with Raptors rescue. I am lucky for the last 22 years I have taken my passion of Falconry and made it my job and long may it continue.


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Paola Falcone, nata a Roma , 59 anni, titolare de I Falchi di Rocca Romana. Nel 1991 ho per la prima volta avvicinato dei Falchi da caccia, frequentando per caso un gruppo di Falconieri della zona di Roma. Cavalli, cani e animali in genere sono sempre stati importanti per me, ma conoscere il mondo dei Rapaci, imparare ad addestrarli e condividere con loro le emozioni di giornate di caccia è stato qualcosa che ha cambiato la mia vita. Il mio primo amore è stato un Astore, maschio, cedutomi in condizioni fisiche e di spirito non buone, e che con l’aiuto del mio maestro di Falconeria e allora compagno Giancarlo Pirrotta riuscii con pazienza a far volare e cacciare. Per i Rapaci, ho cambiato casa, andando a vivere in campagna, e lavoro: da informatore tecnico scientifico sono passata alla vendita delle attrezzature di Falconeria , cosa che mi ha permesso di ampliare i miei orizzonti e la mia esperienza partecipando ai meetings delle Associazioni di Falconeria di tutta Europa. Ho iniziato ad allevare Astori e Sparvieri , e a praticare anche l’alto volo, con un ¾ Gyr Sacro Zucchero e un Falco pellegrino, Chiara, che oggi ha 22 anni e , con mio quotidiano stupore, ancora vola senza problemi. Dal 2005, ho il Centro volo Rapaci I Falchi di Rocca Romana a Trevignano romano, vicino Roma, dove famiglie, scuole e gruppi di turisti vengono per assistere alle presentazioni di Aquile, Falchi Poiane e Gufi in volo libero. Insieme ai miei collaboratori inoltre, svolgo attività di Bird control da circa 10 anni per una serie di industrie del Lazio, e mi occupo di recupero e assistenza ai Rapaci selvatici . Il mondo della Falconeria è da 22 anni il mio mondo, ed anche la mia professione.

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April 19, 2014

Until last week, Makpal Abdrazakova was the internet’s favorite eagle huntress, and I played no small part in her fame. I travelled hundreds of miles by train and bus across the flat steppe of Kazakhstan to meet her in her village, do an interview, and take some photos, and when someone shared a particularly devastating image of her and her eagle on the social networking site Reddit, it blew up. She looked stunning, no doubt. Makpal had dressed up for the shoot by wearing a matching


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ensemble of fur hat and velour jumpsuit, brown and gold and laced with Kazakh ornaments. For most Redditusers, just this get-up was exotic enough to catch their interest. But it was her weapon of choice, a fierce eagle on her arm, that sparked the world’s imagination. “She looks like a video game character!”” seemed to be the consensus from the thousands of people who shared and commented on Makpal’s photo. Which is to say, she looked unreal. She was a fantasy, and the internet ate it up. Yet the web is fickle with its attention, and some time at the beginning of April, Makpal was dethroned by a fourteenyear old girl from Mongolia. Ashol Pan’s BBC photoshoot went viral in a big way, or it certainly seems that way, as five different friends who don’t give a hoot about falconry all flocked to my wall on

Facebook to share the story. The world was captivated by “the world’s only girl hunting with a golden eagle,” captured in stunning photos from the Israeli photographer Asher Sverdinsky. Whereas Makpal’s image was so memorable for its mature intensity, Ashol’s was irresistible for its charm. Even while hunting, she’s shown flashing a perfect white teeth framed by freckled cheeks, a Kazakh Annie. The kid’s adorable. Most importantly, though, Ashol is a feminist’s poster child, a young girl going against the grain and taking up a sport claimed by men. What her cheerleaders back home may not fully realize is just how sensitive an issue gender equality is in this part of the world. Ashol and Makpal have become icons because of their rarity, and they’re likely to remain black swans for the foreseeable future.

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Images Š Dennis Keen 2014


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Images © Neil Hunter 2014

The fact is that while these girls are heroes to the Western world, they are dismissed by nearly every prominent falconer I’ve met in Central Asia. Their objections, as I understand them, are not about women hunting. Women falconers from the West have even visited on pilgrimage and have been met with kindness and tacit approval. What they object to, rather, is Kazakh women hunting. It is a knee-jerk reaction based on a traditionalist understanding of society and the sexes. Especially in the rural economy, household labor is rigidly split between men and women. Men herd cattle, take care of finances, and have a greater luxury of recreation and hunting; women herd children, take care of guests, and when free, sew or shop. The vast majority of Kazakhs don’t live in yurts anymore, but they still provide a potent illustration of how codified this gender segregation can be. On the left side of the home was the female domain. There kymyz was prepared, dishes were washed, and so on. The right side of the home, meanwhile, belonged to men. A gun might hang on the wall, or a shepherd’s whip, and on cold winter nights a hunting eagle might be perched in this hemisphere. To the strictest traditionalist, a Kazakh woman taking up an eagle is like a tornado whipping up this delicately ordered feng shui. It’s a serious disturbance in “how things are done.” A Kazakh friend told me that when Ashol Pan made the news feeds of his local friends, the comments were overwhelmingly supportive. Urban Facebook-goers were no doubt thrilled simply to see a dispatch from their culture on the planet’s front page. Yet there is a serious gradient

in Central Asian culture (or perhaps the world over) in conservatism and lifestyle, and the falconry community tends to be more reactionary. It’s quite easy to understand. We have a group of individuals who practice a sport that demands frequent access to hunting grounds, and thus more often than not they live in auls, or rural villages. Moreover, they’ve made a willful choice to practice a lifestyle that represents bygone pastoralism. Living according to the values of the aul and proudly promoting nostalgia, Central Asian falconers are almost preordained to be on the conservative end of the spectrum, and from there the view of eagle huntresses is not a positive one. The internet will continue to fawn after these striking women. I myself admit that I find their stories irresistible – after all, I somewhat obsessively sought out Ms. Abdrazakova for my original story. But we must remember that a single woman in Kazakhstan and a single girl in Mongolia do not a trend make, and, globalization be damned, there is no wave of Western values that will change the face of falconry here any time soon. Makpal and Ashol appeal to the Englishspeaking world because they seem to represent a triumph of our modern sensibilities over a traditional world we look down upon. Yet this victory is superficial. To the people that matter the most, however, the falconry community that guard the gates, these girls will continue to find little respect. They will forever be more prized by their fans abroad, supporters they may never know they have.

may issue nine


Pursuit Falconry Magazine - May 2014  

Promoting the art of falconry to the next generation

Pursuit Falconry Magazine - May 2014  

Promoting the art of falconry to the next generation