At last year's meet in South Dakota there were a few who wore their falcons as though they were coiffured poodles on a leash. ("What kinda hawk is that?" the farmer asked. "She's not a hawk," said the falconer, raising his eyebrows in obvious disgust. "She's a falcon, a peregrine, and she bites.") But the majority of the falconers came not to flaunt their birds but to fly them at fair game. "The true falconer," says Robert Widmeier, an artist from Duluth, "is not a zoo keeper. He flies his birds constantly, at the crack of dawn before he leaves for work or even at night under lights, not just to keep them strong and healthy but because he owes them at least that much. The moment a falconer takes a bird from the wild he buys himself a year-round obligation to man it, train it, care for it and worry constantly about it. Every time he casts it off his fist he faces the possibility that it may never return. Nothing more than mere tolerance, and often precious little of that, ties a falcon to a man."
The man who must always return from the field with game in the bag had best stick to a shotgun. British Falconer Philip Glasier puts it well in As the Falcon Her Bells: "As is so often the case, the best flight of the day ended in the quarry getting away. Only the hungriest of hunters would have any regrets."