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Apprenticeship

One of the primary goals of the Georgia Falconry Association is to promote the art and practice of falconry. We are very interested in helping anyone, especially those at the apprenticeship level. According to federal law, an apprentice must have a sponsor. A sponsor must hold a general or master falconry license. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is kind enough to recommend our organization as a resource for those interested in the sport of falconry.

We are glad to assist in the search for a sponsor. We will make every effort to help identify someone who is willing to consider sponsoring a new apprentice. All General or Master class falconers have a responsibility to become a sponsor to ensure the perpetuation of our sport.

Note: If you are a Master or General class falconer in Georgia and would consider sponsorship, please inform one of the Directors of your availability.

We also disseminate information about falconry and our organization to anyone interested in and/or wanting to become a falconer, or falconers who have recently moved to Georgia.

Contact any GFA board member from the list below for assistance.

Name

City/County

Contact

Joey Seabolt Locust Grove/Henry (770) 957-1658 or (404)597-5713
jhawkseabolt@bellsouth.net

Bob Gordon

Griffin/Spalding

(770) 227-7015
rag105@juno.com

Buster Brown Dahlonega/Lumpkin (706) 219-1712 or (404)538-4355
qb22@mindspring.com
Larry Mullis Eastman/Dodge (478) 374-4976
mullis27@bellsouth.net

Dennis Blanton

Lexington/Oglethorpe

(706) 255-3644
dblanton87@yahoo.com

Mike Cilibrasi Palmetto/Coweta

(678) 572-9191
mikecilibrasi@hotmail.com


The following is a code of ethics that the California Hawking Club has adopted. It's voluntary and we can't force anyone to follow it, but we feel that it's a good basic set of ethics to follow.

FALCONER'S CODE OF ETHICS

Adopted by the CHC's Board of Directors on August 22, 1999

1. First and foremost, I follow the laws regarding falconry.

2. I do not keep raptors unless I fly them free during the hunting season.

3. If I no longer intend to fly a bird I will transfer my bird to another code-following falconer, or I will release the bird only if it is actively proving itself in the field.

4. I do not draw undue attention to my birds.

5. I keep my birds, mews, and equipment in top condition.

6. I do everything in my power to recover a lost bird, and to bring a sick raptor back to health.

7. If I am training an "apprentice" falconer, I will only advance them to "general" falconer if they follow the code.


Falconer's Field Ethics

General Rules

Do not feed your bird in the presence of other raptors.

Hide all food from view of any raptor.

Perch your bird so it cannot accidentally come in contact with another bird.

Do not hunt near the weathering area.

Do not stand behind or next to a falconer's bird unless the falconer okays it.

Get permission to closely approach a perched bird.

Report any falconry equipment that is damaged or broken to the falconer immediately.

Hunting Property Rules

Always get permission to hunt on private property

Give owner your name and contact information.

Leave property in the condition you found it: i.e., close gates, do not leave trash, etc.

Report any abnormalities you may notice: i.e., injured livestock, down fence, etc.

Get permission for the use of dogs or firearms.

Ask how many vehicles, people may come in at a time.

Let the landowner know the dates and times you will be on his property.

If you are a guest of a falconer on private property, respect his agreement with the landowner by only coming with him or get your own permission from the landowner.

Hunting in Groups Rules

When several falconers are hunting together agree on who will go first, how you will divide the allotted time (by time or kills).

If a bird is not hunting or following, bring the bird down so another falconer can hunt.

All falconers in the group should stay until all birds have hunted. It is wrong to leave after your bird is done and not help the others.

The falconer that is flying is in control of the pace and direction of the hunt.

The falconer that is flying should tell all present his particular way of hunting: i.e, walking distance from falconer, when to pull vines, if, when and who is to shoot marbles, when to approach hawk on game.

If another falconer wants to join your group politely tell them your group is full.



Georgia Falconry Association
Apprenticeship Program
Guidelines

Falconry is the field sport whereby wild game species are regularly taken during legal hunting seasons and in accordance with all applicable State and Federal laws by any species of trained raptor, especially those of the genus Falcon, Buteo, Accipiter and Parabuteo.

Incidentally, the mandate and emphasis on the taking of game in this definition of falconry (as opposed simply to the aesthetics of the pursuit), is required by law. The keeping of healthy, flighted raptors under falconry permits, and not hunting with them, constitutes an illegal possession of migratory birds. Falconry cannot be practiced to any degree of competency if its practitioners refrain from the regular pursuit and capture of wild game. As an organization we must emphasize this basic principle.

It is possible by state law for a falconer to trap and keep a passage Red-tailed hawk for seven years, seldom fly it and be deemed a Master falconer in the eyes of the law. This deficiency can only be corrected if, as an organization, we establish and promote proper guidelines for the apprentice and his sponsor.

The relationship between the sponsor and the apprentice is the foundation upon which our sport is built. If we build a strong foundation our structure will be strong. While these guidelines are not binding, we hope they will create greater checks and balances, self-policing and the mutual accountability between the apprentice and his sponsor. Just as apprentices have responsibilities to their mentors, sponsors have responsibilities toward their pupils.

Sponsorship Responsibilities:

A. Sponsors shall be available to their apprentices for sufficient phone conversations or personal meetings (if proximity allows) to maintain the level of communication and moral support that novices require throughout his or her formative years.

B. Sponsors shall inspect at least once the apprentices' stock of falconry furniture and mews facilities before the inspection made by the State agent. Any practical deficiencies shall be mentioned and/or corrected prior to inspection.

C. Sponsors shall accompany and assist at least once in the trapping of the apprentice's first bird.

D. Sponsors shall be in attendance at the time of the apprentice's first free flight of his or her hawk. This is a crucial moment, both practically and emotionally, and should not be undertaken alone by the novice falconer.

E. Sponsors shall accompany and assist on several hunts throughout the apprentice's first two seasons.

F. Should he or she decide to intermew their bird, the sponsor shall make at least one inspection of the apprentices' mews and bird during the molt, in order to assess the condition of both.

G. At the end of the apprenticeship a letter of recommendation or denial shall be remitted to state and federal authorities.

Apprentice Responsibilities:

A. Apprentices shall have passed the Federal Falconry exam before requesting sponsorship from any GFA member. This allows an important means by which the prospective sponsor may gauge the actual determination and maturity of the apprentice before volunteering his or her free time and energy toward the novice's education.

B. Apprentices shall have obtained proper state hunting permits as per federal law before requesting sponsorship from any GFA member.

C. Apprentices shall have access to several suitable locations for the pursuit and capture of wild game with a trained raptor. Ours is strictly a hunting sport and novices without easy access to appropriate hunting land should reconsider their decision to undertake the care and training of hunting birds.

D. Apprentices shall submit application to the Georgia Falconry Association and maintain membership for at least the duration of the Apprentice period. This will indicate his or her general resolve and provide access to a body of requisite knowledge via contact with experienced members. The apprentice will gain practical and diverse experience during participation in Field Meets.

E. We recommend the Apprentice have produced or procured at least one hood and lure. While the mastery of proper hooding and luring are not expected of the novice, general proficiency in the creation and use of both these ancient and vital implements will be needed later.

F. We strongly recommend the apprentices acquire a Red-tailed hawk as their first falconry bird. These are the largest, least excitable, least likely to be lost, easiest to train and the most difficult to injure of three species currently available to the apprentice. The American Kestrel is considered far too fragile, high-strung and difficult to successfully hunt with to be flown first by any novice. The Red-shouldered hawk is similarly high-strung and difficult to bring to field competency, and is less hardy than its larger relative, the Red-tailed hawk.

G. We recommend the apprentice keep a daily log, wherein the variables of weight, weather, and time of day are added to a detailed description of each training session and subsequent hunt. The keeping of such a log, though perhaps a tedious chore at times, will provide invaluable future reference material for the novice.

 Letter to Prospective Falconer:

Dear Prospective Falconer,

We would like to tell you that obtaining a sponsor is not actually the first order of business, though it would seem that it might be at first glance. We recommend prior to looking around for a Sponsor that you study how to become a falconer..... plus a few other things.

The Georgia Apprentice Manual is available for $15.00 plus $3.50 S&H and is very helpful for new falconers. Please order from

Buster Brown
650 Pine Knot Dr.
Cleveland, GA 30528
(706) 219-1712
qb22@mindspring.com

We also strongly recommend the following books for those seeking to become falconers: "The Apprentice Study Guide" and the "Apprentice Manual" by the California Hawking Club, "The Red Tailed Hawk" by Liam McGranaghan and "Buteos and Bushytails" by Gary Brewer. You can order these from Northwoods Ltd., Western Sporting and Mike's Falconry Supplies. We recommend that you get as many of these books as you can, begin studying, take the Apprentice exam and join the GFA. There will be several club workshops that you will have the opportunity to attend. Please see the events list on our web site for dates.

There's quite a lot to do before soliciting a sponsor and expecting one to sponsor you. If you have gotten as far as passing the test and have joined the GFA you will have a better chance of getting a sponsor since your interest, motivation and dedication will be apparent at that point. At this point we can help you by giving you a list of falconers in your general area, but you must convince them you will be a good candidate. Remember, falconry is a hunting sport and not for pet keepers. Your sponsor may insist you go hunting with other falconers to show your true interest in the sport. If you do not have time to do this he will certainly wonder how you would have time if you had your own bird.

It is the sponsor's responsibility to see that you have the proper equipment and facilities prior to your state inspection. Once you pass your state inspection your sponsor will help you trap, train and hunt your first bird.

The advantage of joining an association is vital, especially if your sponsor can not help as he or she should.

Sincerely,

The Georgia Falconry Association

 

Letter from Roy Lee DeWit, former President of GFA, regarding flight demonstrations:

Dear Members,

I just received another request from someone to talk at a school event. They wanted a flight demo. I informed them that our permits do not allow us to just do flight demos but only talk about falconry. If we talk about falconry they will allow us to do flight demos but we can only be compensated for our expenses. We are not allowed to make a profit. Also the event was the same day as our upcoming mini meet.

The Georgia Falconry Association decided sometime ago to not get involved in these kinds of activities, therefore we passed them on to our members that may want to. In doing so you are not representing The Georgia Falconry Association. GFA is very selective on which event best represents falconry and our members.

We have many new falconers this year and I am sure some of them will be asked to bring their bird to a church, club, or school and talk. You will probably think, 'what harm could come from a flight demo?'. Warning, be careful! Your hawk is not a pet, even though you may think so. Not every hawk behaves the same in different circumstances. Some Red-tailed hawks are extremely tame but do not let this fool you. You are wearing a glove for a good reason. What you teach others about your extremely tame hawk would be different if it was an aggressive hawk, which some of you are now finding out with your second bird. Teach respect for your bird no matter what its behavior so when someone encounters an aggressive bird they do not get injured.

Each year we bring birds to the Buckarama for the public to see but we do not allow non-falconers to hold them (it is illegal) or touch them. We explain how dangerous they can be so they will have the proper respect for them.

This request for a flight demo made me think of something that happened to me several years ago. I was flying an old female Harris hawk someone had given me. Nice bird around people, you could pet it, hug it, no problem it's a Harris hawk. Wrong! It had learned (not from me) what plastic bags were used for. I was in the parking lot of a business park and had just let my bird out to go hunting when a family drove up. The parents saw my bird and asked if the kids, who were in the car, could see her. The next thing I know, for some unknown reason, she was trying to go thought the back glass window. This frightened the children who opened the door to get out allowing the hawk to enter the back door of the car. One of the children had a sandwich bag in his hand that he raised to cover his face. The hawk grabbed the bag and his face. I grabbed the hawk by the head to make her let go and threw her in my car. I never felt so sick in all my life. I was relieved to only find two small puncture wounds. One wound was near the eye and another on the lip. There was very little bleeding. The parents were the most understanding people I had ever met. I gave them my name and phone number and left. I never heard from the parents again but I will never forget how I felt when I saw that boy screaming with my hawk hanging from his face. I felt like giving up falconry and killing the bird. Obviously I did not, but I learned the hard way that hawks are to be respected at all times. I have been practicing falconry for over 40 years and believe we should leave flight demos to professionals that are more experienced and aware of the dangers involved.

This year we have the finest group of new falconers I have ever seen and many of them are already flying their birds and some have taken game. With the large number of new falconers we have this year I felt it was best for me to say something about this issue before someone learns this lesson the way I did - the hard way.

Roy Lee DeWitt

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