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OFA Officers

Jonathan Coleman
President

Chris Kimble
Vice President

Bart Russell
President-elect

Shane Bullard
Treasurer

Rob Huber
Secretary



OFA is an affiliate of the North American Falconers' Association

OFA is a proud contributor to The Falconry Fund

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OFA Is a proud contributor to Quail Forever

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Name?

Lauren McGough

                                                                       

How long have you been an OFA member?

 Since 2001

 

Positions in OFA?

 Former President

 

 Where do you live?

 Although I currently live in St Andrews, Scotland, I often come home to NW Oklahoma City.

 

Job or School?

 I’m currently working on my PhD in Cultural Anthropology at the University of St Andrews.

 

 Family?

 I’ve got an extremely supportive mom and dad, and a great little sister.

 

What got you interested in falconry?

 I’ve always loved the outdoors and raptors; I remember growing up in New Mexico watching wild golden eagles on the soar. I stumbled across falconry in a “Reptiles” magazine article about OFA member Bob Clark. Shortly thereafter I read Steve Bodio’s book ‘A Rage for Falcons’ and that was it. I almost feel like I was born a falconer, it just took until that moment for me to realize it.

 

Who was your sponsor? (or mentors and influences?)

Rob Rainey was my Sponsor – I was so lucky to have his guidance in falconry. Mitch Wishon was a huge help in my first years of falconry as well. Jeff Byrum and Greg Stipp helped me greatly in my forays into flying a peregrine. Neil Hunter and Andrew Knowles-Brown in Scotland are my mentors for flying golden eagles. A Kazakh eagle falconer named Kukan taught me the nuances of flying passage golden eagles.

 

What birds do you currently fly?

 I’m currently flying a captive-bred male golden eagle.  

 

 What birds have you flown in the past?

 Red-tailed hawks, Harris, American kestrel, peregrine and golden eagles.

 

What was your favorite bird and why?

 Alema my female passage golden eagle from Mongolia has probably been my favorite . She was trapped in her second year and it only took a month from trap to first fox. She was wonderful to handle and trade – I was never footed. She took ten foxes and had a flight style that left my heart in my throat. She would power out above the fox (I was slipping her from a mountaintop to a fox in a valley below) and fold into a vertical stoop directly above it. They were beautiful flights, staggeringly loud stoops, and fantastic collisions with the foxes. It seems like our time with the really wonderful birds is always limited – I was only able to spend one season with her.

 

What birds do you plan to fly or would like to fly?

 There is a lot of falconry I’d love to do. I’ll always come back to golden eagles – one day I’d like to focus on waiting-on golden eagles and specialize in different kinds of quarry. But outside that, high flying peregrines  is something I want to do more of. When I’m in the right location, pursuit flying with desert falcons on hares with the aid of sighthounds is another.  Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Turkmen falconry are what I’m really interested in currently, but my ultimate dream would be a cadge of peregrines for grouse and few golden eagles for hares on a Scottish moor. I’d never leave!

 

Favorite Quarry?

 Hares. Jackrabbits are the perfect quarry for golden eagles – they’re fast, wily, and can be found in large numbers to offer lots of action and an endless variety of challenging slips. Of all the hare species, I think the Scottish blue, or mountain hare, is my favorite. They aren’t as big as black-tailed jackrabbits or brown hares, but turn a stunning white in the winter and know exactly how to use the lay of the land to their advantage. They cross hills in no time and an eagle must be experienced in wind and hills in order to bring one to bag. Even in off-the-fist flights, they can require an eagle to be aerial and I’m often impressed at the way the eagle and blue hare manage to outsmart each other.

 

Do you have other animals?

I used to keep several reptile species, but unfortunately, I move too much to continue to keep them.

 

Favorite falconry story?

An Oklahoma story: my peregrine once knocked a duck down that made it back to water. I didn’t have a dog and very much doubted that I’d be able to get the duck off the large pond.  As I waited for her to remount she caught a thermal and specked out. She was just a dot in my binoculars. At that moment a drake mallard came cruising in to land in the pond. Right beneath my falcon. She went vertical for longer than I’d seen a peregrine stoop before, bells screaming, pulling up right beneath the drake and binding to him in a shower of feathers.  It was such a surprise and the first time I’d ever seen a mega stoop before – I’ll always remember it! I wrote a little more about that day here:  http://aquiling.blogspot.com/2009/02/whither-fly-ye-what-game-spy-ye.html

 

Funniest falconry story?

A few years ago I was with OFA member Greg Stipp at a falconry meet in Arkansas. His gyr/peregrine tiercel has uncharacteristically flown off and suddenly the signal went dead. We passed a house with a helicopter and a small airplane parked in front and Greg thought to ask if he could bum a ride. To my complete surprise, they were more than happy to oblige! I couldn’t believe it; the helicopter was powered up and Greg took off, receiver in hand! Greg zipped all over Arkansas in that thing and was able to pinpoint the location of the signal. However, on the ground we only found the transmitter itself, no falcon. Fearing the worst, we continued the search with lure and kite. Amazingly, several miles away from us, the falcon landed next to a farmer as he picked up decoys off his pond. The farmer called the Wildlife Department who called the local falconers who called us. We drove to the area and picked up TG, hungry but OK. That was an eventful meet!   

 

Favorite quote?

 Frederick II put it perfectly: A falconer should strive to “catch the quarry he desires in the manner he chooses with birds trained through his own ingenuity.” Although his warning, “A fat hawk maketh a lean horse, a weary falconer and an empty purse” comes in a close second.

 

What is the best tip that you would give someone new to the sport?

 Give it your best and keep it at it. I look back and cringe at the way I flew my first hawk, or my first falcon, or my first eagle. Get out in the field as much as you can and surround yourself with falconers that know what they are doing. Keep an open mind, keep learning and never settle for a mediocre hawk.

 

What goals do you have for your falconry experience?

To push the envelope of success with golden eagles in this country and elsewhere - to fly them to the absolute highest standard possible. To never stop learning and improving.


Contact Info you want public?

E-mail – Berkutchi at gmail dot com

 

Social Networks?

Blog – www.aquiling.blogspot.com

 Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/eaglefalconer

Twitter - https://twitter.com/#!/eaglefalconer

 

Anything Else?

Oklahoma was the perfect state to learn falconry in – we’ve got so many talented and dedicated falconers that hawk incredibly hard across the gambit of falconry – I love hawking here!



To read about some of Lauren's adventures, please checkout her updates from Mongolia


 
 

Featured Member

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Bob Clark


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Bullseye


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