What Not To Do
Hi, I’m X and I live in Y. Anyone in the area want to sponsor me?
Hi! I’m X and you should sponsor me because your sport is at risk of dying out if you don’t.
Hi! I want a sponsor. No one will sponsor me. How do I get a sponsor now?
Believe it or not, these are all things we have heard at some point or another. “But it’s my lifelong dream!” You might say. Yes, well, join the club. 🙂 Many of us had always dreamed of falconry before we got into it. You’re not alone, and you’re certainly not the only one who has a desire to do this sport. The sheer influx of new folks into the group (5-10 people every week, sometimes more) should show you that there are LOTS of folks out there who think falconry is cool.
But you’re different, you might say. Ok, how? Show me.
Falconers want to see people who are hard working, dedicated, and committed. Honestly, if you do things right, you probably wont even have to ask for a sponsor, someone will offer. Sponsoring someone takes two years where you agree to help them and teach them what you know. The health and livelihood of your apprentice’s bird is your responsibility, so most people do not take sponsoring lightly.
So what is the right way to approach things? How do you ask for a sponsor without asking for a sponsor?
By going to meets, by asking to tag along. By actually tagging along on hunts. But beating brush and being useful while tagging along on hunts.
Falconry is a SMALL community, and we talk. A LOT. You need to be respectful and courteous. If you are invited out to go hunting and something comes up, you need to contact the falconer and let them know you can’t make it. That’s the polite thing to do, and honestly should be common sense, though it’s quite clearly, not common. If you are invited out multiple times and never show, or laze about without putting in much effort, word will get around and then yes, you still won’t have a sponsor.
Falconry is a hard sport. It’s an outdoors activity. There will be sweat, blood, tears, ticks, mosquitoes, snakes, swamp, mud, cow poop, you name it. If you’re not comfortable spending hours outside beating brush when it’s 85 degrees out, you’re probably not ready to undertake falconry, at least not in florida.
And that’s ok! There is nothing wrong with waiting, or deciding that you still want to do falconry, but right now is just not a good time. Falconry is a lot of hard work. I have zero social life during the falconry season unless I’m hunting with other falconers. I have no time for other hobbies either. I have spent 4+ hours a day in a car, commuting first to my 9 hour job, then commuting home to pack up my birds, and then commuting to my field to fly my birds before sunset. If you don’t have good fields around you, you may need to do this too.
You need to show this kind of commitment and dedication when looking for a sponsor. You need to show some initiative. This is not a pet keeping sport, and while there are some people that do that, they are generally not held in high regard in the community. A potential sponsor wants to see that you will be a good gamehawker. That you will put effort in to hunt your birds, and find good fields, and catch game. So read the pages here, take your test, and spend a season just beating brush with as many falconers as you can, as often as you can. Then you’ll find a sponsor. It’s really that simple.
What to do
Ask to beat brush. If you have land with game, invite falconers to your property. Offer to host falconry meets! Drive hours if you have to, to meet other falconers and watch them fly your birds. Offer to help clean someone’s mews. If you’re crafty, hell ask to learn to make equipment, or offer to make equipment for a falconer you know. If a falconer forgets something while out on a hunt, offer to run back and grab it for them. Be a decent, useful, and helpful person.
Of course, sponsorship is a two way street. You’re trusting that person to give you a strong foundation in falconry. I highly recommend you don’t settle for the first person that offers, but that you watch many falconers in the field and how they work with their birds. Watch how their birds hunt. And then make your choice. If you can, pick the sponsor that is most like the falconer you want to be. It can be hard for people new to the sport to know what to look for, which is why I suggest watching multiple folks fly and hunt.
And if things don’t work out, know you can always find someone else to help you along the way. Especially if you continue to be hard working and dedicated.