Almost all apprentices get involved as absolute beginners with no prior knowledge of the art and sport of falconry. This page is designed to help you get from newbie to reasonably knowledgeable apprentice falconer.
The best place to start is to join a falconer in the field. Matt Hankins, our apprentice coordinator has a standing invitation for future falconers to join him in the field every saturday during hunting season in Casa Grande. For any question please him at firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I start?
Step 1 Go to the library and find some of the recommended books on falconry (See Recommended Reading list) and read up on the sport as much as you can. If these are not available at your library, look into the Interlibrary Loan Service that most libraries offer. Books are also available at all the falconry equipment vendors(see our Recommended Vendors page). There are also two study guides available, one from California, and one from New York. Both will help you take the exam in any state. The California one is much newer and more up-to-date. It is available from Western Sporting Publications. Read each book through at least once, and then study the most relevant areas heavily. You will also need to study Arizona Game & Fish Falconry Regulations, as there will be relevant questions on the exam.
Step 2 Go to or call your local Arizona Game & Fish office (see sidebar) and ask for the information and application for getting a falconry permit. You can download the information here as well: This is the Game and Fish Falconry page From that page, download the Apprentice Information Packet. It contains a variety of PDFs with all of the info you will need to get started on your license. That page also has links to all of the applicable regulations. The regulations, both state and federal, have changed significantly in the past few years. Be sure to have copies of and study both the state and federal latest regulations. They document your rights and responsibilities, and you are required to know them.
Step 3 The most important requirement for your apprenticeship is to get a sponsor. The sponsor will be there to guide you through the first two years and introduce you to other falconers. Not only is a sponsor a legal requirement, but also an incredibly valuable resource. Your sponsor has done this all already and can help you avoid making common mistakes, as well as make your journey more simple and fun! You can either work on getting a sponsor prior to taking the test or wait until after you pass it, but we recommend that you begin looking for a sponsor as soon as you decide you’re serious about this. Your sponsor can assist you in test prep as well!
Step 4 Start preparing your falconry equipment and your mews (hawk house). Work with your sponsor on this. Falconry is an ancient sport and the basic equipment has not changed all that much, because the designs work. Many apprentices want to reinvent the wheel and often find out that the hawk pays the price for the experiment. Stick with what is KNOWN to work, at least while you are getting started. Read Arizona Game & Fish and US Fish and Wildlife Falconry Regulations thoroughly for equipment requirements.
Step 5 Take the falconry exam at your regional office. You must get an 80% or better to pass. You can take the exam without naming a sponsor, but he/she will actually need to sign your state permit application.
Step 6 Once you've passed the exam, you will need to have all your facilities ready for inspection. An agent from AZGFD will come to inspect your facilities. Your sponsor should be present for this inspection.
Step 7 Once you have passed your exam, your inspection is complete, and you have a sponsor, you will be able to get your license from AZGFD. A federal permit was previously required but as of Jan 1 2013, it will no longer be required in AZ.
Step 8 As soon as you have a state hunting license and a state falconry permit in hand, then you are ready to go trapping. If your sponsor is unable to go trapping with you, find an experienced falconer who will go with you on your first trapping expedition. Calling a wild raptor from the sky to join you is not a trivial thing and you want to do it right!
For a deeper dive into what it takes to become a falconry apprentice please feel free to watch this apprentice workshop that covers many of the frequently asked questions, regulations and tips for beginning the process.