We don’t know who first brought the practice of falconry to Alabama. We do know that in the 1960s, after the founding of the North American Falconers Association (NAFA), true game hawking literally exploded across the continent. By then the ever present red-tailed hawk became a mainstay for the rabbit hawker and a decade later the Harris hawk was “discovered”. Dirt Hawking became the focus in the crescent shaped Southern Black Belt.
By 1996, Roy Crowe extended his hospitality and issued an invitation to Alabama’s small falconry community. Most had hunted together routinely and looked forward to sharing their expertise, questions, and comradery. A total of forty people, mostly friends and family members of these few falconers, met in the community room of Shady Grove Christian Church in Opelika, Alabama. During the early growth period, Roy’s wife Susan often cooked breakfast and chili dinners while falconers came together and began to share a common interest and concern about the Art itself as well as the Federal and State Falconry regulations.
Under the leadership of Roy Crowe, the Falconer’s and Austringer’s of Alabama met formally in 1997 for their first meet. Eric Storey became Alabama’s first President of the fledgling organization. There was one Kestrel in attendance.
Over the next three years, the FAA became firmly established. Small bands of falconers, particularly in the southeastern part of the state, routinely hunted together. True to falconry’s ancient ability to create diplomacy in the field, mutually beneficial relationships between state, federal, and other entities devoted to raptor conservation blossomed. It was at one of these meets that several individuals engaged in interpersonal behaviors that cast an immediate dark light on Alabama’s reputation and on falconry. The result was devastating. In 2000, Don McCullough, Roy Crowe, Don Wilson, and Charles Sizemore met to discuss the future of the organization.
That was 14 years ago. Our close knit, but often times geographically isolated falconers, continue to appoint acting Officers as well as hosting annual meets. Despite our small numbers and small window of sponsorship, we are slowly adding to our numbers. Our old timers, as well as several dedicated out of state falconers continue to hand down their expertise and share close camaraderie.
Today, we have a new name for our organization. We are the Alabama Hawking Association. We are dedicated and passionate about our birds, our fellow’s progress, and the future of the sport of falconry in the Alabama and the Deep South.
Is to improve, aid, and encourage competency in the art and practice of falconry among interested persons; to provide communication among and to disseminate information to interested Members; to promote scientific study of the raptorial species, their care, welfare and training; to promote conservation of the birds of prey and an appreciation of their value in nature and in wildlife conservation programs; to urge recognition of falconry as a legal field sport; and, to establish traditions which will aid, perpetuate, and further the welfare of falconry and the raptors it employs.