Monday, August 13, 2007

disclaimer

I don't worry about the authorities. They've always treated me well; I talk like a reasonable, educated person and I don't have aggressive body language. It's when a guy has a chip on his shoulder that things escalate, and the cops have the guns and the authority. No, it's mostly the annoyance factor of having to answer questions that keeps me from wanting to see them. Second is the fact that very few know falconry very well, even those ostensibly overseeing it, since their attention is taken primarily by gun hunters and fishermen and their respective catches. Sometimes you find yourself teaching them the laws.

Most state fish cops are cool. The first two I met when I was getting my first license. With a nudge and wink he said I couldn't hunt with my bird in a county park, but I could fly it. And well if the bird caught something in the course of being flown, what a shame, but it's only following instinctual behavior. Then he proceeded to tell me of a spot with jackrabbits.

A few years ago a fellow falconer told me a Fish said he didn't consider falconry to be hunting. Now that's going a bit far, but to a degree it's true. Falconers generally don't catch anywhere near the volume that gun hunters do. Those of us who try can release a fair amount of game unharmed. Hardly any of us tear up the countryside on ATVs because we need the silence to hear and sneak around. We tend to fly solo, so we don't leave big camping messes behind. Our quarry is small, so field dressing remains disappear from sight under a handful of grass or down a dibbled hole. In short, we have all the fun, but we tread a lot more lightly. It's a pleasant surprise to have this acknowledged, even if backhandedly.

The feds are much more hardcore. The only ones I've had to deal with are the paper people, for license renewal, but I know falconers who have had to deal with being assumed guilty, being interrogated, being lied to in order to get them to incriminate themselves or worse yet their friends. A lot of dirty tactics. I hope my acquaintance stays exclusively with the paper people.

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