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The Art of Falconry and other Eclectic Hobbies

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Now that 2016 has officially ended (hooray, Betty White is safe!), it’s time to look forward to a new year filled with hope and potential. Of course, at this time of year, the quintessential New Year’s resolutions are often discussed around the water cooler or on play dates.

Most people will share that they want to lose weight, exercise more, read more books, etc. There are even wise people who express that they want to be more engaged with their families, go on more trips, or simply be more grateful. All of these ideas sound wonderful and I wish those that make these promises the best of luck.

I’ve done a little personal exploration myself, and I’ve decided that my 2017 will be filled with new hobbies and interests that are awesome because if this last year taught us anything, it’s that life is short, so why not have a fun obituary? This is what I have come up with so far.

  1. Zen and the art of Falconry

To those that are unaware, falconry is the act of hunting using birds of prey in the wild. A “falconer” (aka you) uses a trained hawk (or owl or eagle or other bird of prey) to catch things like smaller birds or rodents.

Typically, most people use the red-tailed hawk due to its size and trainability. This activity is quite old and dates back thousands of years. It is legal in the U.S. in all states except Hawaii (do they even have birds of prey there?). To become a falconer, you need extensive training and you have to pass a written exam to get a license. You also have to take part in an apprenticeship program which can take several years. So clearly this cannot be a whimsical endeavor.

This idea actually started two years ago when I traveled to Ireland with my family. We went on a “hawk walk”, and I learned how to ask a hawk and an owl to fetch prey in the wilderness.

It was awesome.

I learned that there is a delicate symbiotic relationship that must be formed between bird and man, and that hawks are notoriously indifferent to their human counterparts. As such, on any occasion, your trained bird may just decide to leave you and never come back.

So you really have to establish trust (and bribe them with food) in order to get this whole thing working smoothly.

You don’t have to own your own bird, but you do need to build up that relationship over time or the bird won’t respect you (this is kind of a big deal). Once you have cultivated that foundation of trust, you’re off, and you can start hunting quarry.

It’s quite cool. And messy–but mostly cool.

For those that are interested, Adam’s Falconry Service in San Juan Capistrano has a Groupon that can get you started. If nothing else, it’s at least an experience. I hope to continue the apprenticeship program locally and graduate in the next few years. I will report back on my efforts as they unfold.

  1. The spiritual journey of fly-fishing

So, after reading A River Runs Through It in high school, I’ve been quite interested in going fly-fishing. I have been fishing a few times before, but fly-fishing is in a class by itself.

You see, to fly fish, you must get on the same level of the fish. You have to know your prey and anticipate its desires. You then have to coax the fish out by having the right kind of bait, and you need to be at the right place at the right time.

It’s much more involved than regular fishing where you sink your hook and hope for the best.

With fly-fishing, it’s a waiting game that combines patience and art. It is a beautiful thing and can really connect you with nature. Ultimately, I’d like to try this out in Canada where the scenery is lovely and the fish are plentiful.

But until then, I’m going to try it out in SoCal. Salty Fly Fishing is a service based out of Huntington Beach, and they will give you an all-inclusive fly-fishing experience for a reasonable rate. I think I’ll take my husband with me for this one. And if we are successful, we get a dinner date too.

  1. The finesse of archery

Yes, this idea was completely taken from the Hunger Games. No, I’m not ashamed at all. I just think it would be pretty cool to learn how to use a bow and arrow.

Not to hunt or anything, but to hit targets like Merida in Brave. My husband has a lot of experience here and he even has his own compound bow. I thought that it would be fun to try this out with him, but I’d have to start from scratch.

That’s where Good Shot Archery comes in. They are located in Garden Grove, and they provide very reasonably priced lessons for beginners. Once I’ve developed a few skills, I will probably go to an archery range and try it out. I think it would be fun, and this is something that my son may be able to participate in as well.

So these are the activities I want to explore in 2017. They are relatively accessible, local, and not cost-prohibitive. I’m excited to start and I will update on my progress. I hope I inspired you to think outside the box this year and make it a truly great one. If nothing else, you’ll get a good story out of it.

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One Response to The Art of Falconry and other Eclectic Hobbies

  1. Heather Eftekhari
    Heather Eftekhari January 10, 2017 at 9:14 am #

    Love this, Megan! I haven’t tried falconry (though, I’ve been tempted myself as I have a not so little ‘friend’ that hangs out in our Eucalyptus tree most days) or archery (which also sounds like fun!). I do have experience with fly fishing. Another great local resource to check out is Bob Marriott’s Fly Fishing Store in Fullerton. It has everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. I would highly suggest going up to the Owens River Valley/Bishoip area once you’re proficient. It’s beautiful, relatively close and I’ve caught and/or released many a fine fish over the years. I can’t wait to see a follow-up post on all your new interests!

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