This is something interesting I got from the folks at the state Tourism Department. If you can make your way to to Woodward on Thanksgiving week, this would be a really interesting outing. Read on…
NORTH AMERICAN FALCONERS ASSOCIATION TO MEET IN WOODWARD
WOODWARD — On Thanksgiving week, hundreds of birds of prey — eagles, falcons, hawks and owls — and their falconers will flock to Woodward for the annual Field Meet of the North American Falconers Association (NAFA).
These trained birds will not only be flying in the Oklahoma skies in pursuit of game but also will be on display for the public. The event will be taking place Nov. 23-27.
Several activities are available free to the pubic including opportunities to take photos of birds in the weathering yard. Visitors also can meet falconers and their birds in person. The headquarters for the meet will be the Northwest Inn of Woodward, located at U.S. 270 & 1st Street. The “weathering yard,” where birds rest and sun themselves, will be the field directly adjoining the hotel. The best time to see the birds in the yard will be daily from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Many of the birds will be hunting in early morning and late afternoon.
Falconry can be defined as the taking of wild quarry in its natural state and habitat by means of a trained raptor — the ultimate field sport. Of all sports in America, falconry is the only one that utilizes a trained wild creature. Because all raptors are protected by state, federal, and international law, all potential falconers must obtain necessary permits before acquiring a hawk or practicing falconry. After receiving their permits, they become apprentices for two years while learning the basics under the tutelage of a sponsor.
Falconers can later obtain a General or Master classification but practicing falconry is a lifelong learning process. Falconers are men and women from all backgrounds and occupations. However, they all share one thing in common: the passion for their birds and the sport. They also have a keen understanding and appreciation for the environment. Falcons, hawks, eagles and owls are essential elements of our wildlife. Falconers follow sound and ethical conservation principles in the pursuit of the sport.
Thought to have originated in Mongolia, Egypt and Asia, falconry is an ancient art and practice between man and essential elements of nature that has existed for at least 3,000 years in many forms and cultures. Falconry is depicted in an Assyrian Bas-relief found in the ruins at Khorsabad of the palace of Sargon II (ca 2730-2713 B.C.). Today, the sport of falconry brings common ground and heritage to many people around the world. Falconers from all over the United States, Canada, Mexico and numerous other countries will be participating.
The meet is hosted by the Oklahoma Falconers Association (OFA) and the Woodward Tourism and Convention Bureau. Additional information about the meet is available online at http://www.n-a-f-a.com/Meet09.htm.