Should I Become a Falconer?
The Kentucky Falconers Association welcomes your interest in the sport of falconry! Outlined below are key points to consider in deciding if falconry is appropriate for you. Authentic falconry is quite different from legendary and mythical tales often erroneously associated with the sport in popular media.
What Falconry is:
- Training a wild raptor to hunt in the presence of a human. Training can be tedious and frustrating and requires patience. Your bird will not always hunt successfully. Above all, the wellbeing of the bird comes first.
- Hunting with a wild animal. It requires the time commitment to allow your bird to hunt often and in areas where he can have multiple opportunities to catch game.
What Falconry is not:
- Having an exotic pet. Falconry birds are not pets. If this is your motivation for falconry, proceed no further.
- Possessing a raptor for profit or educational purposes.
Steps to Becoming an Apprentice:
These are specific to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, but are similar to other states. Here are a few important steps to take in order to begin your journey into becoming a licensed falconer in Kentucky. The steps below can be taken in any order but it is most important to decide if falconry is right for you and if you have the time and resources needed to be successful. To keep informed on all current falconry regulations in Kentucky, check the Kentucky Division of Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) falconry website.
- Request a falconry information packet from the KDFWR. You can call 1-800-858-1549 to have one sent to you.
- Find a Sponsor. Your sponsor will be a very important person in your falconry journey. They will need to provide a letter to KDFWR stating their willingness to sponsor you when you send in your application. It is also required that they be present when you trap your first wild bird and they will be required to perform regular inspections of your bird and facilities.
Being a sponsor takes a lot of time and commitment, so it is recommended that you establish a good relationship with a potential sponsor first and show them you are serious about becoming a falconer. The KFA will make an effort to connect you with potential sponsors in your area. You can email the KFA Apprentice Coordinator at email@example.com. The KDFWR also provides a list of potential sponsors in the informational packet they send you. Annual events such as the KFA summer picnic and field meets are great ways to meet potential sponsors.
- Take the Exam. The exam is not easy. It is recommended you study and read up on falconry topics such as Care and Maintenance, Equipment, Healthcare, Hunting Techniques, Training, and federal/state regulations prior to taking the exam. It is required that you pass (80% or higher) the exam before applying for your permit. Your exam can either be arranged with your local KDFWR conservation officer (find your local officer here) or can be taken in Frankfort at the KDFWR office. Exam opportunities in Frankfort generally occur once a month. Contact KDFWR to schedule the exam. If you take your exam with your local Conservation Officer, they will inform KDFWR of the exam results.
- Have your Facilities Inspected. Your local KDFWR Conservation Officer will come out to inspect your facilities and all legally required equipment. They will need to sign the “Raptor Facilities and Equipment Inspection Report” Form which will be one of your application materials. A copy of this form can be found here. It is recommended you consult with your sponsor on what types of equipment you should have that will meet the requirements of KDFWR.
- Send in your Application Materials. To obtain your apprentice permit, you must submit the following materials:
- A completed and signed Kentucky Falconry Permit Application (https://fw.ky.gov/Wildlife/Documents/falconrypermitapp.pdf)
- One check payable to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) for $75
- A completed Raptor Facilities and Equipment Inspection Report form signed by a KDFWR law enforcement officer and the applicant.
- Letter provided by your sponsor indicating their willingness to sponsor you.
Within ~30 Days, you will receive your falconry permit. Make copies of the letter notifying you, the permit paper, and the permit card. Save these away in your files. Also, join the KFA!
Now You Can Trap! As long as it is within the acceptable trapping season (September 1 – January 31). Once you trap you will need to fill out the 3-186 (now done online) within 5 days of trapping to report the bird in your possession.
Other Things to Note…
- You Will Need a KY Hunting License. If you were born after a certain date or will be hunting in another state, you will need to take a Hunter’s Education course and pass the exam. Once you have done this, you will be able to purchase a hunting license from any one of many outlets such as sporting good stores.
- In order to upgrade after a minimum of 2 years, you will also need to document your falconry activities throughout your apprenticeship and submit a “Kentucky Apprentice Falconer Activity Report” when you are eligible to upgrade to a General Falconer. You will need to keep track of the dates you possessed a bird, how many days you flew your bird, and the game taken. This form will also document your sponsor’s inspections of your facilities and birds throughout your apprenticeship. This form can be found here: https://fw.ky.gov/Wildlife/Documents/Kentucky_Apprentice_Falconer_Activity_Report.pdf