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About Falconry

A medieval falconer releasing his bird at game.


Falconry is the art and sport of pursuing game animals with a trained bird of prey.  While there is no consensus on the actual period or location of the sport’s beginnings, it is generally accepted that falconry originated over 4,000 years ago somewhere in the far east (probably China or Japan), making it the oldest sport in the world.  While many are aware of it’s presence in Europe during the middle ages (and today), few are aware of it’s deep roots in the middle east, where it is still widely practiced today.  

In the United States, the sport of falconry is practiced much as it always has been since it’s inception, albeit with a few modern twists, such as the use of scales and telemetry.  There are roughly 4,000 licensed falconers in the United States, with only about 70 of those located in the state of Ohio.


Falconry is legal in every state except Hawaii and is the most heavily regulated field sport in the United States. The combination of federal and state regulations that guide the practice of the sport today are in place to protect the birds and to ensure that the sport is practiced at its highest levels.

A group of Ohio falconers in the field pursuing game with a male Harris’ Hawk.

To become a falconer in the United States, one must complete a two-year apprenticeship under the guidance of a General or Master class falconer.  In Ohio, a person must first meet the following requirements before becoming an Apprentice falconer:

– Be at least 16 years of age.

– Pass a federal falconry test (administered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources) with a score of at least 80%.

– Build either a mews or weathering area, as well as obtain all of the necessary equipment (e.g. perches, bath pan, scale, swivels, etc.) and then pass a ODNR inspection.

– And most importantly, procure a Sponsor.  

Once an apprentice has completed these steps (and received their Apprentice Falconer’s License and Trapping Permit), they will be allowed, under their Sponsor’s supervision, to trap, train, and fly either an American Kestrel or Red Tailed Hawk.  Apprentices are barred from working with captive bred birds during their apprenticeship in the state of Ohio.