Next up under the customer spotlight is Jen Meyers. Below is an interesting interview where Jen details her ambitions and her journey into the Falconry world. Enjoy!
Tell us something about yourself and your journey into Falconry.
I grew up in the suburbs of New York City. As a young adult, I worked in the racehorse industry then began training dogs for dog agility. My first encounter with hunting was when I moved to a rural area where I was surprised to see dead deer on the tops of cars and to learn the opening day of hunting season was a school holiday! I developed a taste for venison as well as a respect for responsible hunting. This paved the way for my interest in Falconry, which by definition is hunting with raptors trained to work with human companions.
What inspired you to start Falconry?
At a Renaissance Faire, the falconer seemed to be using principles of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement with his falcons that I was attempting to learn for dog training. I approached him with questions, and he invited me on a hunt. Afterwards, I asked if I could go on another hunt and then another and I was hooked. I knew I had to become a falconer. It has always been important to me that I became passionately interested in Falconry while watching the Raptors catch the wild game in the hunt field. It seemed a little out of character for me as an animal lover. Who knew?!
What was your first bird?
I have had a lot of birds (lol) but, my first raptor trained for the field was a red-tailed hawk.
What is your favourite bird to fly?
My favourite bird to fly is the one I am flying at the time of the question. Currently, that is my Harris hawk!
What is the most memorable moment you have experienced in Falconry to date?
I have two equally memorable moments. One is when my first red tail at the end of the hunting season chased crows high and away. She was just a speck, and I was sure she would head off on migration. But, she came back to the whistle and the lure. It was the most fantastic feeling watching her return. The other is while hunting with a small male red tail and we had been missing ( those rabbits can perform some pretty incredible manoeuvres!). Finally, on Christmas Eve after another hard day, he scored! And I let him feed up as quiet darkness descended and gentle snow began to fall. I just felt like I was in some miracle moment.
Do you work full-time Falconry?
What is the part of Falconry you enjoy the most?
I love the initial training but have to be careful not to rush it because I am eager to get the bird out in the field as well. The pleasure of being connected to a free-flying bird assisting as I can and watching them in their natural environment doing what raptors do but, with me is a most amazing gift of joy! And, I also love the first time a wild caught bird flies to you and hits your fist hard!
If you have one ambition or goal in Falconry, what is that?
I have so many things I would still like to accomplish in Falconry. I think my current ambition is to hunt with the bird on horseback with a dog. I have a horse, I have the dog now and I have the bird but bringing it all together…
What's your dream bird to fly?
A Peregrine falcon. If not that, then an Aplomodo.
For those new to Falconry or thinking about getting started, what would be your one bit of valuable advice?
I think it is really important to examine your motives. Falconry is a hunting sport, not a performance event. Falconry is an Art that takes a lot of time and commitment to master. I truly believe it requires a total reorientation of lifestyle. It is 24-7. Thankfully, there are places like A Clarke Falconry to buy quality equipment now but every falconer would benefit from having a working knowledge of making equipment. There is a lot to learn but, I would also say don’t give up on your dream, don’t let anyone discourage you, work hard and ask questions and listen to everyone.
What's your favourite A Clarke Falconry equipment? Kindly, tell us why.
Let me see- the anklets, the jesses, the squirrel chaps, the braided leash, and of course, the bespoke dog collar with purple thread and the snazzy falcon embellishment. The lure is well balanced and swings nicely. I guess everything I have gotten is my favourite. The equipment is well made with quality materials, strong and durable and beautiful. Yes, really beautiful. Falconry is an Art and A Clarke Falconry equipment is an artistic enhancement to the bird on the fist, the bird in the field and the bird in the mew. And, to the falconer and dog as well!
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Falconry equipment by A Clarke Falconry. Made in the UK shipped Worldwide