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Last year, we had an assembly at school where two falconers came and talked about the craft. I thought it was amazing and the idea captivated me. But I don't quite remember all the details. He said that once you are the age of fourteen you can go to a master falconer and learn under them as an apprentice. But how does that work exactly? Is it like in the cartoon Chowder, where you live with them and they teach you school and the craft? Or do you stay where you live and just learn under them. Here are the questions I would like answered:

  • How old do you have to be to become an apprentice? (I'm 14 r/n)
  • Do you live with your master and school under them?
  • What are the specific rules for California?
  • Where do I go and what do I do to become an apprentice
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    I'd probably ask a falconer. – ShemSeger Oct 14 '16 at 14:33
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    Where are you located? The 14yr old rule was probably a rule specific to whatever organization those two falconers belong to. – ShemSeger Oct 14 '16 at 14:39
  • Check out The Modern Apprentice, which is about learning falconry. – ab2 Oct 14 '16 at 18:13
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    As I understand it, a lot of falconry is just taking care of the birds. I would start by finding your local raptor rehabilitation center and volunteering. You will start at the bottom of the rung cleaning cages, but you will learn. When you do find a master falconer to apprentice under, you will have demonstrated motivation and determination and are more likely to be accepted. Good luck! – David Oct 15 '16 at 5:35
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    @David, you should make you comment an answer. – ShemSeger Oct 17 '16 at 14:52
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In the US you probably won't be able to become an apprentice in the traditional sense at the age of 14 as you will be legally obliged to be in school or at least educated by someone with parental responsibility. Similarly it is not usually possible to employ minors except for casual work with very few hours.

There is also the fact that in the modern world a falconer is not someone retained by a feudal lord with a job for life so they are running a business and won't have a lot of spare time to train people for free, especially as even unpaid employees may attract all sorts of extra costs in terms in insurance liability etc.

Having said that I wouldn't want to put you off from something which has genuinely inspired you. I would suggest that you learn as much as you can about the subject via books and the internet (don't forget books).

Also find out of there are any falconers local to you, many carefree will be very happy to help young enthusiasts as far as they can, especially if they can show that they really do care about the subject. Here you may need to be gently persistent but I would be surprised if you can't find a master falconer who doesn't respond well to genuine enthusiasm.

As you are 14 you will also need to get your parents/guardians on side as they will probably need to give permission for any training you can get ect and you may need to demonstrate that you can handle your schoolwork at the same time.

Bear in mind that traditional apprenticeships always included a lot of dull tedious work so you need to be ready for that in one form or another either directly or indirectly.

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I agree with the answer of @Chris Johns, especially about getting your parents on your side and the need to handle schoolwork and the dedication you will need to attract a sponsor. And, as @David said in his comment, you will have to clean cages to prove yourself. Now for some details of what is required in California.

The California Hawking Club lists eight steps to become a falconer. The steps are in chronological order. What follows is summarized or quoted from this article.

First, you must pass a falconry exam. The article directs you to the materials you will need to study. This exam appears to be akin to the exam one has to pass to get a driver's learner's permit -- bookwork, no hands-on experience required.

Second, get a hunting license, for which you must have taken a "gun hunter safety course".

Third, get a sponsor. I quote this section in its entirety:

An applicant to be an apprentice must be sponsored by a third-year general or master falconer. Once you're a CHC member and have passed the falconry exam, the California Hawking Club Apprentice Chairs will assist you in contacting potential sponsors (the State does not help you in this regard). This is just one of several excellent reasons to join the California Hawking Club. Unless you are fortunate enough to know a master or general falconer willing to sponsor you, you will end up talking to one of the California Hawking Club's Apprentice Chairmen for the name of candidate sponsors. Those candidate sponsors come from the ranks of the California Hawking Club. They are not obligated to be a sponsor. You must establish that relationship, and being a California Hawking Club member is an important step of that process. Sponsors are looking for apprentices that have done their homework, passed their test, have their hunting license, follow directions, love hawks and are willing to hunt with them.

In the remaining steps, you will be guided by your sponsor, although you will have to do a lot of work yourself. One of the steps is acquiring equipment, which will probably mean earning and saving money and convincing people who give you gifts to give you what they think are rather odd things, such as Alymeri jesses (?!).

This article appears to be an excellent resource, but I don't have the knowledge to make an informed judgment as to whether it tells you everything you need to know to get started. The major omission I see in this article is that it does not tell you how to learn how to train your hawk. I assume -- but assumptions are dangerous -- that your sponsor helps you in this, and that the California Hawking Club may also.

I just noticed the comment of @Rastafarian referencing this article.

Addendum: See also North American Falconers Association

Falconry is not an "overnight" achievement. Becoming a Master falconer takes at least seven years; finishing your apprenticeship alone will take at least two. Your hawk requires a significant amount of time, every day, 365 days a year, and a bird in training requires substantially more time.

I hope that someone who knows falconry first hand will provide an answer. Meanwhile, gear yourself up to do a thorough internet search, a lot of reading, and find some cages to clean. Learning the elements of carpentry is also a good idea.

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