The title to this post about falconry telemetry begs an obvious answer.
Of course you should use falconry telemetry to locate your bird, to offer some kind of solace and reassurance against loss. However a great many people don’t use falconry telemetry, especially those that fly the most popular bird of prey in the UK, the Harris Hawk.
I myself flew for two years without telemetry.
I was a poor student at the time and falconry telemetry was a large investment into something I thought I could live without, I thought I could simply use magpies or crows to locate my bird.
Then, as I started to hunt more, I would lose my Harris Hawk through sloppy weight management (trying to fly the bird to heavy) and then finally on a shooting estate whilst on a field meet. The Harris Hawk, a large female, had killed and then hidden in some deep cover. Every time I called she kept still and I heard no bells until the end of the day at dusk. She flew up a tree with a full crop.
Lucky for me, I was an able climber and she stayed still as I climbed the tree and then had to make my way back down with one hand and holding a very heavy female Harris Hawk. I then did the next most stupid thing and bought a cheap falconry telemetry set. I won’t say the name but it was a 433mhz system and gave about as much range as a bell on a good day. The falconry telemetry set I had then was OK for a Harris Hawk, as long as I could keep up with the birds movement, but of course, I moved on from Harris Hawks and ventured into crow hawking.
I went from short slips to extreme slips and within a year of buying a cheap falconry telemetry set, I did my research and bought a reputable and established falconry telemetry system. This was like me saying “That’s it, I’m in this sport for the long haul”.
That was ten years ago.
Every year I dedicate more time to falconry like many of my peers around me. We have changed jobs, given up friends, family gatherings, purchased dogs and moved house and location all for falconry. Falconry telemetry is as essential as getting a bird, and in the big run of things to come if you keep with falconry, it’s a drop in the ocean.
So if your undecided if falconry is for you, take my advice.
Think of falconry telemetry as an essential tool. There is the debate that if Harris Hawks keep getting lost (and they are the most lost of all birds of prey) then they could be restricted in ownership. Using telemetry is for all within the sport of falconry, and of course the time you need it most is when you will make the most mistakes; at the the start.
If you’re thinking of buying a bird of prey, add a the cost of a falconry telemetry system like a Marshall Radio Telemetry set. Even if you do sell up, you’ll always sell a good quality system for good money, which is more than I can say for my cheap system that now collects dust in the garage. I am biased but ask around, you’ll find that many others have the same story.