COLUMBUS, Ohio — Conservation, preservation and education: That’s the mission behind the Ohio School of Falconry.
Joe Dorrian is a master class falconer and the director at the Ohio School of Falconry. He first became interested in falconry at just 12-years-old after reading the book "My Side of the Mountain." Now, he’s been doing this for 20 years.
“The sport of falconry is actually the hunting of game species with a trained raptor, so it is a hunting sport. And actually, it is the oldest sport in the world. It’s 4,000 to 6,000 years old. But actually, it was a subsistence sport back then, so you would use the sports to actually hunt game that you would use to put food on the table,” said Dorrian.
Falconry is a heavily regulated sport. When you become an apprentice, “you gain access to working with native species birds of prey, but it’s illegal for anyone that is not a falconer, raptor rehabilitator or a raptor educator to work with birds of prey.”
He uses a radio transmitter to help keep track of birds in the field. The birds are food-motivated, so they receive a treat each time they fly to their falconer.
“When we free fly them, they could fly off at any moment so it’s about trust. The bird trusts us and works with us and understands that life is pretty good with us," Dorrian said.
After spending two decades in the sport, Dorrian said sometimes it can be “hard to always see the magic every time you have a bird fly to you, but seeing that [expression of amazement] on the face of each of our students, it really does help kind of rejuvenate the passion that I have for the sport.”
There are several modern-day sayings related to falconry. Fed up under your thumb and wrapped around your little finger are just a few.