JWN Arts & Hawking 

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Falconry: An Ancient Art and a Modern Science

        Falconry (also called hawking) has been with humankind for about 4000 years.  The earliest documentation of use of raptors by humans indicates raptors were originally used to "dare" (pin down) birds while human partners used nets to bring the game to bag.  Over time, the raptors themselves were promoted to doing the actual catching, and though the practice must have continued as a somewhat practical means to bring meat to the table for many, eventually it developed into an unique art form and a sport of the chase for the landed wealthy.  The passing of even more time brings falconry into our modern era, where hawking stands as one of the last remaining authentic connections humans can have with nature in a world more and more enshrouded by the digital and the artificial.

        At the heart of falconry lies a "symbiotic" relationship between a human and an essentially wild bird.  The human looks to the bird to provide entertainment and a spiritual connection to the natural world.  The falcon looks to the human for shelter at the end of the day and an insurance policy that even when times are lean, a meal is always guaranteed to be forthcoming. Together they will form a deep bond, through the pursuit of wild quarry, so natural and satisfying it seems to prove falcons (and/or hawks) have always been predestined to be partners with human beings.

        The pages in this section will grow over time.  Much of it will focus on one particular species of falcon that has recently reclaimed a role in falconry, the aplomado falcon.  The primary author of this website, Jim Nelson, has been practicing falconry since the early 70s and has successfully trained and hawked with most of the species and hybrids of raptors available to falconers in North America.  His three favorite hunting partners are the male gyrfalcon (aka "gyrkin"), the female aplomado (aka "alethe"), and the Harris' hawk (either sex).  Because there is so much information available on both gyrfalcons and Harris' hawks, his efforts on this site will be focused on the aplomado, which is becoming better known over time, but for which there is still much to learn.