Q. How old do I have to be to apply for an apprentice falconry license?
A. Under the new regulations, the minimum age is 12, but at this age, you will need someone to drive you and your bird to and from your hunting areas. That could be four to six times a week during the hunting season. Hunting season generally runs from September through March.
Q. What kind of hawk I am allowed to have as an apprentice?
A. Since the 2010 Texas regulations went into effect, with a few exceptions, an apprentice can legally fly any game hawk. Choice of bird is an issue handled between the apprentice and sponsor. If wild trapped, the hawk must be trapped as a passage. Per the regulations this is a bird in its first year (immature) plumage, but may include a bird recently fledged. An apprentice may take a captive-bred hawk, but flying that bird will not count for upgrading the permit to general class.
Q. How many hawks can I have?
A. As an apprentice falconer, you are only allowed to possess one raptor at a time. If you lose this raptor, you can only replace it once per season. A general class falconer may possess three raptors, a master class falconer, five.
Q. What is the best choice of raptor for an apprentice?
A. The ubiquitous red-tailed hawk is an excellent choice for the apprentice falconer who has access to land that holds jackrabbits, cottontails, and/or squirrels. Even duck and upland game birds can be taken by this versatile species. Residents of Texas have relatively good access to wild Harris' hawks. They are excellent game hawks, but it will take more effort to trap one, as the bulk of the population is clustered within about 100 miles of Laredo. Falconers of all experience levels fly red-tails and Harris's, by far the two most widely flown game hawks in the United States.
Q. What steps do I need to take to become an apprentice falconer?
A. First, find a sponsor. Second, take and pass your falconry exam, next have your facilities and equipment inspected. Get you permit, trap a bird and start your two-year apprenticeship.
Q. How do I find a sponsor?
A. First and foremost, find a way to spend time with other falconers. For some, this is easier than for others. It depends on your location and personality. The Dallas/Fort Worth area has the largest concentration of falconers in Texas. Austin is next, followed by maybe Houston and San Antonio. Falconers are spread thin everywhere else in this largest of the contiguous lower 48 states, so if you live in an outer lying area, you might have to do some driving. Please understand, YOU have to take the initiative. As a member of THA, we will do what we can to help you locate falconers near you. Although the Apprentice Coordinator can help direct you, it is YOUR responsibility to contact those falconers and introduce yourself. Spend an entire season flushing game for their hawk. Study how they handle and manage their birds. Show him/her that you are a serious student of falconry and you want to learn more. If you will do this for an entire hunting season, you will have a sponsor. Friendship first, sponsorship second.
Q. How long is an apprenticeship?
A. You can apply for your general class falconry license after completing two, four-month-long hunting seasons, or basically two years. Your sponsor must send a letter to the State to certify that you have met the requirements.
Q. What books do you recommend I read?
A. A good book for pre-apprentices is North American Falconry and Hunting Hawks by Hal Webster and Frank Beebe. After reading that, a few other good books to have are:
Buteos and Bushytails by Gary Brewer
The Red-Tailed Hawk - A Complete Guide to Training and Hunting North America's Most Versatile Game Hawk by Liam McGranaghan
The Falconer's Apprentice - A Guide to Training the Red-Tailed Hawk by William Oakes
Falconry Equipment by Bryan A Kimsey and Jim Hodge
The Harris's Hawk Revolution by Jennifer and Tom Coulson
Hunting with Harris Hawks by Bob Dalton
In Season, A Louisiana Falconer's Journal by Matthew Mullenix is excellent, though is not a "Howto" guide
Q. What should I study for my test?
A. In addition to the books above, here is an on-line practice test you can take.