Watch as this falconer releases his imposing partner in an incredible bout of falconry. Within seconds, the golden eagle chooses his target – an adult deer – and strikes.
It’s a rare sight to see an eagle go after a deer. Where certain species of both families overlap, however, their predator and prey relationship becomes an incredible part of nature. Such is the case for golden eagles, which will occasionally source large species – such as deer, mountain goats, and even juvenile bears – as prey in the wild.
Yet today’s footage is only half-wild. In an equally rare sight, Instagram’s Lethal Nature is sharing a remarkable glimpse into the art of falconry.
A form of hunting as fascinating as it is ancient, falconry is the art of hunting wild animals with a trained bird of prey. While named after falcons – a family of raptors often trained for it – falconry encompasses many birds of prey; the only true stipulation being whether or not the species takes to training. As such, raptors as large and imposing as a golden eagle can be falconry partners, too. And this is exactly the case in Lethal Nature‘s footage below.
“A trained eagle taking down a deer. Falconry is the art of hunting with a trained bird of prey,” Great Outdoors captions LN‘s intense footage on Twitter. Within, a falconer releases his partner golden eagle for the hunt as a herd of deer stampede by. Within seconds, the golden chooses his target – and strikes:
Golden Eagles and the Art of Falconry
For as long as civilization has existed – perhaps longer – falconry has been a part of the human-nature relationship. Within, raptors are never “tamed,” but are rather taught the art of the hunt through a reward system. Species such as northern goshawks, peregrine falcons, and saker falcons have long been utilized in this form of the hunt. Golden eagles specifically, however, represent a newer form of falconry sometimes separated under the moniker of “hunting with eagles.”
In many ways, falconry with golden eagles has become an art form of its own. For one, the size of the impressive golden eagle allows for a much wider array of prey (see above). Goldens are well over twice the size of peregrine falcons, a species common in falconry, with the former’s wingspan reaching 8 feet wide.
Moreover, “Golden eagles are the only eagle allowed for use in falconry in the United States,” FWS.gov cites. “Due to rule changes in 2008, it is no longer necessary to get a federal permit to possess and transport golden eagles in Washinton State, Oregon, and Idaho, among other states,” they continue. This is important, as it marks a stark change in the practice of falconry in the Western hemisphere. With this, falconry with eagles has become
Hunting with eagles is widely accepted by falconers to have originated in the Eurasian Steppe with the same cultures that perfected falconry. Today, it remains an integral part of contemporary life in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, where festivals continue in honor of the ancient art.
In short: falconry is, in my experience, one of the most incredible artforms of humanity.