MAKENZIE’S OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: FALCONRY

Falconry dates back thousand of years, but these days it's fairly uncommon.
Published: Mar. 31, 2020 at 11:47 AM CDT
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COMANCHE COUNTY, Okla. (TNN) -Falconry dates back thousand of years, but these days it's fairly uncommon.

There are only about 2500 falconers in the country.

One lives right here in Southwest Oklahoma.

It's the latest edition of Makenzie's Outdoor Adventures.

Falconry is the art of hunting with a trained bird.

“It’s all based on weight management and food reward,” said falconer, Krys Langevin. “The initial training process, you kind of gradually bring their weight down. Until you get to a point where they’ll respond to you.”

In the 17 years Langevin has been doing this, he’s trained several kinds of hawks and a peregrine falcon.

“The ones that I use are Harris’s Hawks,” said Langevin. “They call them the wolves of the sky, because of the way they hunt. They’ll hunt in groups, they’ll participate with each other, they’ll kind of help each other out.”

Part of falconry is training the birds to catch prey that is larger than they’re used to.

“What we’re going to be doing is walking around the fields, looking for cottontails, jackrabbits to hunt,” said Langevin. “And we kind of scare them out and the birds will chase them, hopefully fly them down and catch them.”

Krys and the birds don’t hunt alone. They also have two well trained miniature dachshunds who believe it or not, are working dogs.

“It’s basically just to get a better chance of getting rabbits moving, getting something moving with them,” said Langevin. “We’ll get to a wood pile or a junk pile or something, and the dogs go in and they’ll root around down there until they find a rabbit, and then hopefully flush it out for the birds to catch.”

Once an animal is flushed out, the hawks will try to catch it.

“Usually they’ll grab on to it and hold on to it, and they’ll sit there and just try and keep it subdued,” said Langevin. “And then what we do is run in as fast as we can, dispatch the quarry, so it ends it a little more faster, a little more humane.”

Whatever they catch is then frozen and fed back to the birds over the spring and summer.

Langevin says despite the misconceptions, these birds get treated much better than a bird would in the wild.

“We take care of them,” said Langevin. “There are certain standards and stuff that we have to adhere by. They’re kept out of the severe weather, inclement weather. If there’s severe storms or something coming, then my birds come inside. If it’s going to be too cold at night, they come inside.”

He says it’s not an easy sport, and the birds could fly off at anytime.

What he enjoys most about falconry, is the feeling of working together.

“Just the aspect of the birds working cooperatively with you,” said Langevin. “It’s something that’s not really natural. And it’s also a lot more challenging than going out with a gun and hunting.”

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