Russell Coope: falconry

I have always been fascinated by birds of prey and I took up falconry for instance, as a recreation. It’s hardly recreation, it’s a time – it occupies an enormous amount of time so I was training birds of prey as hunting birds, and as my pastime there was very very – it went on for a couple of decades of training falcons, hawks, everything, as hunting birds. So that’s what occupied a lot of my spare time.

Why that as a hobby at this time? 

Well to start with I rather liked birds of prey and I had this fond illusion that in fact falconry had died out in Britain but it would be awfully nice to resurrect it, only to discover that there was an active British Falconers Club that had been going all the time that I had been unaware of. So I joined the British Falconers Club and we had a great time together. There are two sorts of birds that we were training, one was the falcon which is the long winged hawk, long winged bird of prey which really is a very very fast flyer, and this is a – a very very – what shall I say, time consuming business in that you have to feed them, gradually get their confidence, then through a series of encouragements getting them to fly to you on a thin line so that they would come for their food. They never do anything other than come to your food, and you gradually creep into their life, they creep into mine in a big way. And then one day you take that thin line off and cast it up to the wind, but you have a thing called a lure which is a dummy of some sort, doesn’t have to look like a bird but it’s fun to make one to look like a bird, on the end of a string and you whirl it around like this [demonstrates]. Which if you whirl it around your head the bird sees it and thinks it’s a bird and it’ll attack it and just as it’s about to strike you flip it out of the way and the falcon will go right up – turn over and come hurtling down again. And in this way it exercises its flying muscles. Now this is all for long winged falcons and eventually you take it out and hope that it might catch something and you do catch things but that’s a different story.

  • Interviewee Russell Coope
  • Duration 00:02:37
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Paul Merchant
  • Date of interview 11/24/2011
  • Shelfmark C1379/63

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