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Falcolners hit Phillips Co. for mini meet PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lee   

This past weekend, residents may have been driving around the countryside and come upon people standing out in fields, dressed in hunting clothes, looking up at the sky. These people didn’t have guns. Instead, they had large gloves on one hand.

Seven falconers from the Colorado Hawking Club spent three days in and around Holyoke for a mini hunting meet.

The group arrived Friday night, Jan. 13 and woke up to chilly temperatures Saturday morning.

It was a bit chilly Saturday morning, Jan. 14, but the rest of the day
and weekend proved to be perfect for seven Colorado falconers who
visited Phillips County for a mini hunting meet. Saturday morning, after
breakfast, a couple of the falconers performed a flying demonstration
for those interested. Above, Randy Mayes was surprised by this bird
while he was speaking to the group. The bird, owned by another falconer,
was on his way to his owner but decided to land on Mayes’ back to see
what was going on instead.           —Enterprise photo

After a breakfast with the public, the group ventured out to a field northwest of Holyoke for a flying demonstration.

The falconers don’t like to have the public watch them on an actual hunt because the birds won’t perform as well with unfamiliar people around.

Two of the falconers, Randy Mayes and Rob Palmer, used their birds to demonstrate how they hunt with them.

This peregrine falcon lands on owner Rob Palmer’s arm. Palmer’s
bird is known as a duck hunter and has been very successful over
the past year catching ducks. Palmer’s bird was one of two used
for a flying demonstration Saturday morning, Jan. 14.  —Enterprise photo

Mayes owns a female Barbary falcon while Palmer has a female peregrine falcon. The larger peregrine falcon is known as the duck bird because it is capable of hunting ducks.

Roughly 20 people—falconers and family included—ventured out to the field Saturday morning to watch the flying demonstration.

Randy Mayes, in center by truck, speaks with a group of interested people this past Saturday morning
just northwest of Holyoke. Mayes, along with falconer Rob Palmer, used their birds to demonstrate
how they hunt with them. The two, along with five other falconers, were in the area for a three-day mini meet.  —Enterprise photo

Mayes had a box of racing homing pigeons that were used for the exercise. The plan was the pigeons—who are good at maneuvering to stay alive—would escape and find their way back home, which is near Boulder.

Mayes and Palmer explained how their birds are equipped with a “backpack” which has a transmitter—sometimes two—to keep track of the birds should they fly way out of sight. Palmer said the transmitters work as far as 40 miles.

Randy Mayes introduces the crowd to his Barbary falcon Saturday
morning.              —Enterprise photo

It’s not uncommon for a bird to chase its prey for miles. Each falconer has the capability to track their birds should they fly a long way off.

After the demonstration, the group of falconers split up and went their separate ways to hunt. They spent the rest of the day Saturday and all day Sunday and Monday hunting in the area.

The group was in Holyoke in February 2011 for a similar mini meet and decided to come back. Falconer Deanna Curtis said they felt so welcomed they wanted to come back and offer a little something for the community. That is where the breakfast and flying demonstration came into play.

This peregrine falcon waits patiently while her owner
prepares everything for the demonstration. The birds
wear hoods while they are traveling or other birds are in the area.

—Enterprise photo

There are currently around 200 licensed falconers in Colorado and only about half of those have birds and actively hunt.

For more information about the organization, visit

Holyoke Enterprise January 19, 2012