1) Contact your state wildlife division or department of wildlife resources. In North Carolina that is: NC Wildlife Resources Commission, Division of Wildlife Management, M.S.C. 1724, Raleigh, N.C. 27699. Each state has slightly different requirements. Ask them for information about falconry. Also ask for a current list of falconers in your state.
2) You may have a local or state falconry organization that you may wish to contact. In North Carolina that is the: North Carolina Falconers Guild. Please check with your state wildlife officials for the contact person in your state. Not all states have clubs or organizations. Those that do often have websites.
3) Study the materials and information sent to you by the state.
4) Based on the materials and information you gather, decide if you will have the time, energy, space and other necessary requirements to train, care for and hunt with a bird of prey.
5) Find a falconer who will be willing to talk to you. Call them and make an appointment to go see them. Keep the appointment and be prepared to spend considerable time asking questions. Most falconers are skeptical of persons who only have a passing interest. Be prepared to demonstrate your commitment or it may be your last visit. If possible, or invited, go hunting with them.
6) Attend (by invitation) a meeting of your local or state falconry organization.
7) Find a sponsor. New falconers are required to have a sponsor for the first two years. New falconers are called Apprentices and serve under either a General or Master class falconer. You must be at least 12 years of age. At 12 you will serve a minimum of four years as an apprentice. The minimum age for a general class falconer, who has served an apprenticeship is 16. These are requirements of current federal and state regulations. Many potential sponsors require an aspiring apprentice hunt with them for a much as a full year before they will consider sponsorship.
8) Study, study, study. A list of books may be sent to you and included in the materials either from the state wildlife officials or your local or state falconry organization or both. Books are not cheap and the majority of these books will not be found at your local public library.
9) Make an appointment to take your examination. The exam consists of questions designed to test your knowledge of birds of prey, raptor biology, health care of the birds, laws and more. You must pass the examination with a score of 80% or better.
This is a requirement of current federal and state regulations.
10) Construct your facilities, under the guidance of your sponsor, so hey meet or exceed the legal requirements. Have your facilities inspected by the state and pass the inspection. In North Carolina, sponsors are now required to conduct pre-inspections of facilities and equipment of an apprentice, in preparation for the state inspection. These are requirements of current regulations.
11) Have all of your equipment purchased or made and on hand prior to your inspection. It too will be inspected by state officials. These are requirements of current federal and state regulations.
12) Submit your applications and application fees to the proper state wildlife officials for approval and the issuance of permits.