Joe has always had a passion for wildlife and loved birds growing up. He loved going hunting when he was younger. The reason was to have an excuse to spend time in the woods. Rarely did he come back with game because he didn’t kill just for the fun of it. He valued the wildlife and the hunt. A gun seemed like cheating.
“If I had my way you could only use your bare hands or a big knife for all hunting. But anyway, I digress.”
Falconry was a perfect match for Joe. He enjoys the fact that “the bird eats everything from head to toe of the animal and that nothing goes to waste”.
Conservation is at the heart of this falconer. Joe has spent his time doing the “Spring Migratory Bird Count” and “Christmas Bird Count” every year. He also studied Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at NWMSU. The bird counts were one of the factors that led him to falconry. His ultimate goal is to open a raptor rehab/center near Kansas City. There are other projects he also has planned, with a desire to help others feel and enjoy what he has come to love.
“I really think that we are the protectors of these wild beasts and more people need to get involved or we will lose wild things forever, and once they are gone there is no coming back.”
Joe has found that falconry is so much more than just a hobby, it is a lifestyle. Being able to see his first bird’s first kill made all of the work worth while. He got to watch it from flush to finish and is forever grateful for that experience.
So how about the current bird?
“The bird I have now (Gandalf) has been the most aggressive bird I have had to date and I have more scars on my right hand then I care to count from him but he puts in a ton of effort and has the best drive out of any hawk I’ve had.”
When I asked him what his biggest challenge was, his answer was perfectly stated, and I have to agree.
“I didn’t really have any big challenges. My experience in the sport has been awesome from start to finishes far. I wouldn’t change the way I’ve done anything and continue to learn something new everyday. I like the saying that you can ask 2 Falconers and get 10 different opinions. I find that very true and that was frustrating for me at the start because everyone does everything just a little bit different and they usually look down on you if it is not done their way. I was told you have to have a tough skin to be a falconer and I think that is just a cop out for people to be mean. I think everyone who has an interest should be given a shot or at least be exposed to falconry.”
Joe is an excellent example of how the love for wildlife is at the heart of a falconer. His dedication to educating the public about these amazing creatures, and preserving them for future generations, is what sets him apart and makes him our current “Falconer in the Spotlight”.
If you would like to be a future falconer in the spotlight, please contact us. The more we share, the more we learn.
Written by Brian Andrews February 2016