Learning from Nature

—As told to Mindy Raye Friedman, Church Magazines

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Not many people can say they’ve had a falcon eating out of their hand, but Chase B. has it happen to him all the time. Chase participates in the sport of falconry, in which a wild raptor is trained to hunt and to trust its owner.

How does falconry work? After a captive falcon becomes hungry enough to overcome its fear of its new owner, the bird will begin to feed from your hand. The falcon is required to fly increasingly greater distances back to the glove to receive its food reward.

How did you get started in this activity? My dad is a licensed falconer, and one day he took me with him to trap a wild red-tailed hawk. It was so incredible. I’ve been hooked on falconry ever since.

What is it about falconry you enjoy? I love the anticipation of how my bird will perform and the action of the hunt. It is amazing to watch a hawk or falcon swoop from hundreds of feet in the sky to capture a pheasant and share its meal with us. I also love the father-and-son bonding time.

How can you relate falconry to other aspects of your life? It teaches me to deal with the highs and lows of life, because I have little control over my falcon. It also teaches me patience, because I can only train a falcon with positive reinforcement, and I must work on the falcon’s terms, not mine. It teaches me to appreciate and respect nature.

What has helped your testimony grow stronger? Recently I had an experience that made my testimony grow and helped me realize that my Heavenly Father really does know me and love me. I was in a scary situation with my younger brother, and we prayed that the Holy Ghost would tell my mom to come and get us. She received a strong impression to come right away. When she showed up a few minutes later, we were so relieved and grateful that Heavenly Father answers prayers.

What is your favorite scripture? 1 Nephi 3:7. Nephi is my Book of Mormon hero. He had faith and was courageous and obedient through many trials. He was always a leader. I love it when he said that he would go and do the things that the Lord commanded, with faith and without questioning.

Photographs by Suzette Bruggeman