In order to be a sponsor, a falconer must have had their general permit for a minimum of two years or be a master falconer. Currently, there are 54 actively permitted falconers in Alaska. How many of those are retired or not practicing fluctuates as career changes or other circumstances may prevent them from being active.
These falconers live all over the state but the highest concentrations are in Region II Anchorage which also covers the Kenai Peninsula, Region IV Mat-Su, and Region III Fairbanks/Delta. There are a few in Region I Southeast as well.
Finding a sponsor can seem like a daunting task sometimes, but mainly only for those who don’t follow the unofficial process or don’t put in the time to do it right. While not impossible, you will have a much better chance of finding the right sponsor if you follow a few simple steps. These steps are covered in more detail in the “Getting Started in Falconry” article.
The best way to find a sponsor is to get to know falconers in your area long before you set out to take your exam. A good place to start is to attend meets and join AFA and Alaska Falconry Facebook page. You must understand taking on an apprentice is not a responsibility that’s taken lightly. This is a minimum two-year commitment and sponsors are responsible for your actions as well as the health and wellbeing of your bird, so needless to say, they want to get to know you first.
Some sponsors prefer you pass your exam prior to committing to taking you on as an apprentice. There are really two reasons for this. One, you do not need a sponsor if you don’t pass and two, it shows them your serious about falconry and willing and able to learn. They will give advice but until you pass, they will most likely not commit to being your sponsor.
You will spend a minimum of two years as an apprentice and during this time you must be under the watchful eye of a sponsor. They are there to help and guide you through all the things not found in the manual and make sure your bird is safe and healthy. They will give you advice on reading materials and provide you with the information you will need to create a safe and healthy environment for your bird.
Finally, you MUST be able to take criticism and not take it personally, you will most definitely make mistakes and be corrected from time to time by your sponsor and occasionally it may even be sternly. Listen to them carefully and follow their directions. The safety of these birds is their top priority, and they take it seriously.
This quote from one of our members sums it all up. “It’s all about the bird.” – Dutch Overly
Join AFA today and gain access to a wealth of information from apprentices to master falconers.