Having been recently saturated with how-to videos, we are refreshed by this production, which is a telling of two interwoven tales. The first is a story about the early stages of American game hawking, and the second is a recounting of the narrator’s participation in its development. For those falconers interested in a modern history of North American falconry, this is the video for you.
Focusing primarily on flights with longwings, the narrator deftly weaves personal reminiscences together with the unfolding development of falconry in the western United States. The video begins with a brief photo-synopsis of the birth of U.S. falconry, discussing big names such as Meredith, Nye and McFadden. Then, Hayes shifts the focus to his generation of falconers; those who came of age in the 1960s, and who brought about the move from baggies, to duck-hawking to intentional pursuits of upland game, most notably sage grouse and prairie chickens.
Excellent historical footage, as well as some great sequences of Prairie Chickens and Sage Grouse accompany the chronological narrative. The giants of the North American past are given the respect they are due, but importantly, it is noted that the type of gamehawking we enjoy today- the type of gamehawking we take for granted- is a newer phenomena on this continent. There are interesting parallels between Hayes development as a young boy, content and amazed that a wild bird would come to his fist, and the early bagged-quarry demonstrations which, he says, comprised the bulk of falconry meets in those early years. As U.S. falconry came of age, so did Hayes, and his understated style is all the more impressive when one considers the degree to which he was involved with the sport’s monumental strides.
This video is not a history course, nor is it a technical piece. Rather it is a humble tribute to those things that falconry encompasses for Hayes, and for many of us: friends and family, camping and conservation, and the thrill of the chase.
P.S. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the bonus video at the end, which we will not elaborate upon except to say: heart-pounding!