Bo Mallette looked over at the bird perched on his gloved fist.
“She’s getting more wild now,” he said.
Mallette has had the hawk, Lumen, for more than six months, working with her to teach the bird the ancient sport of falconry.
Now, after months of effort, he has stopped teaching her as he prepares to let her go back to the wild.
Mallette is a part of a small society in Texas. Falconry, the hunting of animals using birds of prey, is an ancient sport thought to date back to about 1500 B.C.
Mallette, an electrician who grew up in Victoria, was raised with a love of nature and the outdoors. He loves to hunt, fish and spend time outside, but hawks always held a special fascination for him. One night, he saw a program on television about falconry, and he decided to learn it.
In Texas, falconers may only catch wild birds and practice the sport if they have a license. The process is intensive – you have to find a licensed falconer to apprentice with, take an exam that requires months of preparation and study and get the facilities for keeping the bird approved by a game warden with Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Texas has only about 230 licensed falconers. State Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Rex Mayes said he has only ever permitted two falconers since starting his job in 1983.