Falconry

Falconry is a variety of hunting based on usage of hand-reared gledes, mainly relevant to diurnal birds of prey order,for catching preys. Hunters, engaged in falconry are called austringers.

Falconry was widely developed almost in all Eurasian countries and some parts of North America. However, the falconry’s popularity came down badly with the development of agriculture and with prevalence of firearms.

Hunting with falcons or with other birds of prey was well-known in high antiquity. According to the ancient sources, as far back as BC, this type of hunting won great popularity among Mongolian nomads, Chinese emperors and among other people living in Indo-China, Persia and Middle East.

In Western Europe, hunting with birds of prey remained unknown or unpopular until the III century. Only in 1274 the emperor of Holy Roman Empire wrote a treatise, called “The Art of hunting with birds” ,which described the rules of falconry. Among the Slavic peoples,lived on the territory of modern Russia, hunting gained popularity at the turn of VIII-IX centuries, presumably due to the nomads.

In Kyrgyzstan falconry appeared long time ago. That time the Kyrgyz had no firearms and survival of  whole families depended on hand-reared gledes’ hunting skills. But with the onset of economic difficulties these traditions gradually fade away.

Nowadays colourful festivals with participation of hunters with singing birds are held in Kyrgyzstan.This is a so-called hunting with golden eagles or falcons. These kinds of festivals attract tourists from around the world to the south of Lake Issyk-Kul, as well as contribute to the revival of the Kyrgyz people traditional way of life.

To chose a glede hunters usually climb the mountains and look for eagles’ nests.

They take one eaglet, look at its height and size of the claws to understand how strong and fierce will the adult bird be. The nestling is fed up until fall. Approximately early in November the hunter begins its training.

At first the golden eagle is given an opportunity to get used to human society, it is taught not to attack children and domestic animals. Later hunters start training it with the help of moving stuffed animals. Pieces of raw meat are tied to the back of a stuffed animal and it is tugged at the rope.

Large eagle is able to kill deer and wolves easily, sometimes they can attack even argali. Being held in captivity it’s able to live up to 50 years.

Since eagles usually aren’t afraid of humans, they can fly up to them very close. But no one can kill the golden eagle, because it is a sacred animal - a living symbol of Kyrgyzstan. In former times golden eagles provided the Kyrgyz with all the necessary: protected  flocks from wolves, helped to get fells for clothing. People believe that the man on killing the golden eagle or destroying its nest will not succeed in life.