Lightining is one of 4 Harris' hawks participating in the Hotel Hershey's Falconry program.
Jack Hubley holds a golden eagle
on the Hershey Falconry Field.
"This was fabulous!
It's just unbelievable!
We absolutely loved it!"
from Chadds Ford, PA.
Tom O'Dea from Chadds Ford, PA.
No one knows exactly when or where mankind began to employ the services of birds of prey for putting meat on the table, but evidence suggests that the partnership began about 4,000 years ago somewhere in Central Asia. After countless millennia relying, literally, on sticks and stones to bring home the bacon, what a revelation it must have been to be able to harness the power, speed and agility of these feathered hunters!
Of course, the advent of gunpowder rendered falconry obsolete as a practical means of taking game, but the craft survives to this day, practiced by a handful of hunters worldwide who can't resist the magic of this age-old partnership. Magical though it may be, falconry is a demanding charge — more lifestyle than hobby.
"I loved it! I'm totally hooked!"
Leslie Woodward, Brazil
First and foremost, the aspiring falconer must come to grips with the fact that falconry, by definition, is hunting wild game with trained birds of prey. The operative word here is "hunting." Predation — the taking of a life — is not pretty, and those who have difficulty with the violence of a predator-prey encounter are well advised to look elsewhere for a pastime. But, if you're truly interested in catching and killing wild game with a bird of prey, then you just might be ready to begin your falconry journey — a journey marked by many regulatory hurdles.
Because birds of prey are protected at both the federal and state levels, falconry is the most heavily regulated field sport in the country. Aspiring falconers must first find a licensed falconer who is willing to sponsor them for their mandatory two-year apprenticeship. After sponsorship is secured, the future falconer must take a written test. After passing the test with a score of at least 80-percent, the next step is to build housing facilities that meet federal specifications. When the facilities pass an inspection conducted by a state wildlife officer, the new apprentice is finally ready to obtain his or her first hawk. If all goes well, after two years, the apprentice's sponsor will send a letter to the state wildlife agency approving his student for advancement to General-Falconer status.
Obviously, falconry is a craft that places great demands on the falconer, and, inevitably, on his or her family. Those who aren't interested in this level of commitment but are still excited by the prospect of having a hands-on encounter with these magnificent birds can sign up for The Falconry Experience. Under the direction of Master Falconer Jack Hubley and his assistants, guests will meet several species of birds of prey, learn some basic natural history and enjoy flight demonstrations, including a simulated hunt that showcases the hawk's speed and agility.
The program culminates with guests having the opportunity to call a hawk to their own gloved hand. Having a hawk respond to your call and land on your upraised arm is an unforgettable experience - an experience that, here in Pennsylvania, is available only in Hershey, since Hershey Entertainment & Resorts holds the only Falconry Education permit in the state, issued by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
For more information check the Hershey website: www.thehotelhershey.com
To book a Falconry Experience call the Concierge at The Hotel Hershey, 717-534-8860; or Jack Hubley, 717-575-0948.
Memorial Day through Labor Day
Wednesday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
SPRING & FALL:
April/May & September/October
Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
November through March
By appointment, call Jack: 717-575-0948