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The West Virginia Falconry Club is a dedicated group of licensed falconers who have assembled together to actively promote, preserve, and advance the great sport of falconry in West Virginia. We are not only falconers, but also conservationists committed to the comprehensive well-being of wild raptors.

Jason Caldwell, Co-founder, President

Jason grew up in a pastor’s home in Baltimore, Maryland and was also fortunate to be raised in a hunter’s home.  Not only was his father a second-generation minister and a third-generation hunter, but he was also infatuated with predators, especially birds of prey.  Falconry was his dream, sparked by a book he had read in the eighth grade.  He passed this love of raptors on to his only son, Jason, who grew up reading the books he had collected. He also handled the small treasure chest of falconry equipment that had been acquired through mail order catalogs down through the years.  When Jason was a teen, he began to pursue falconry with a passion.  He finally acquired a sponsor and passed his examination in 1993.  His father, Howard–also enthralled by the chance to finally be a falconer–tested only two weeks later. 

Jason spent the first several years, like most beginning falconers, hawking with red-tails and kestrels.  He even spent most Saturday afternoons hawking with local falconers while attending Seminary in Knoxville, TN.  In the late 90’s, he met Floyd Presley, who mentored Jason in ridge trapping and hawking "old school."  Jason eventually became a sub-bander under Floyd and the two remained close friends until his death in 2016.

In 2003, Jason moved his wife and two young children to West Virginia.  Together, with his parents, his family bought a small farm near Berkeley Springs.  Falconry had only been legal in the state for a few years and was known only to have one other master class resident.  The next year Jason and Howard teamed up with friend and fellow falconer, Matt Frey, to combine energies in an effort to bring a much-needed reform to the regulations.  After a long up-hill battle, we were able to change the regulations in 2014. This team continues to work alongside the WVDNR to make falconry the best field sport it can be. 

In 2006, Jason became a licensed raptor educator founding Raptors Up Close, an educational program with live birds of prey.  He still continues to band raptors every year.  He is also permitted for abatement services with raptors and permitted for raptor propagation. He is a proud member of the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators, the North American Falconers Association, the Potomac Falconers Association and a founding member of the West Virginia Falconry Club.

Jason now lives with his wife, Tonya, four children and a large assortment of birds.  Although his interest lies in anything concerning raptors, falconry is his preference….his passion.
 
 

Matthew Frey, Co-founder, Vice President

A general biophile with a particular attraction to anything predatory with scales, Matt’s childhood bedroom window dripped like a leaky spigot from the condensing humidity frothing from the vivariums that were stacked on every available surface.

With those predilections, Matt’s falconry journey began when he first witnessed a flying demonstration at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. It was a common understanding in his family that if they wanted to see or participate in anything else at the festival, they would have to view the falconry demonstration last; otherwise, they would never be able to tear him away to see the other attractions.

Matt’s interests became increasingly more focused on art but after graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in visual communication and returning to Maryland for his career, Matt revisited his prior beguilement with raptors and began the process of reaching out to the local falconry community for mentorship. His search fatefully led him to a gifted falconer who, as he found out later, was the same man who as a child had so enthralled him at the Renaissance Festival: Michael Moreland. Mike had reservations about whether he could make an artist into a game-hawker but soon realized that he wasn’t going to be able to shake the young man that dogged him like a hungry stray.

After successfully completing his apprenticeship under Mike, with the support of his uncle Floyd Presley, Matt served as an officer in the Potomac Falconers Association in various roles before leaving Annapolis in 2004 and moving with his pregnant wife, Melissa, to Charles Town, West Virginia to buy a home and start a life near her family.

Matt became the seventh licensed falconer in West Virginia but soon regretted his relocation decision when he fully digested just how onerous the regulatory burdens were in the state. Shortly thereafter, with a fair dose of naivety, Matt began a campaign with WVDNR to change the regulations that afflicted the sport thinking that the administration simply needed some input from practitioners of the sport to make common-sense reform.

To that end, he teamed with Jason and Howard Caldwell who had preceded Matt in emigrating from Maryland to West Virginia the year prior and who were also struggling with the draconian regulations under which they were practicing in their new home state.

What proceeded from that intimate partnership and friendship was a decade-long campaign, against considerable initial resistance and odds, that continues today as the West Virginia Falconry Club to establish good working relationships with WVDNR administrators and substantiate falconry in West Virginia as a viable and respected field sport in the pantheon of the state’s venerable hunting traditions.

 
 

Heather McNemar, Secretary/Treasurer

In 2015, Heather watched a short documentary that featured Mongolians hunting golden eagles on foxes.  From that moment, she was hooked.  She knew she wanted to live a lifestyle that few people get to experience or even understand—the falconry lifestyle.  Though her years practicing falconry have been relatively few, during that time, she’s spent countless hours dedicating her life to the sport.

Heather’s passion lies in squirrel hawking.  She currently flies a red-tailed hawk named Mags.  During squirrel season, on any day remotely fit for hawking, and sometimes even on days that aren’t, you'll find Mags and Heather in the woods, chasing down every squirrel they can.

Heather attributes her success as a falconer to the West Virginia Falconry Club and a few of its key members.  Without the club, she feels she would be miles behind where she is fortunate enough to find herself today.  Heather encourages all falconers to become a part of the West Virginia Falconry Club and experience the fellowship and camaraderie that the membership offers.

 
Coming Events:

We will be hosting our 2019 club picnic in Berkeley Springs, WV on August 31. Please download the meet notice below for all relevant specifics regarding the event.

Download here.

Second Picnic

Heather with three fox squirrel kills

James with Reaper and rabbit catch

Ray with kestrel on starling

Chris and Roman with Stella and squirrel

Stella on rabbit

Jason with Magnum and brace of squirrels

2017 club meeting

Female Harris's on rabbit