It seems the proper thing for installment #1 in the blog department would be to give you a brief introduction. Growing up in Smyrna, GA I knew very early in my teens that someday I would be a coach. Then, as a sophomore at GA Southern I considered briefly a different direction… criminal justice, but that didn’t last very long. Teaching and coaching would be my career. Forty years later I’ve never regretted that decision. I coached tennis in the 70’s and loved it. But strength and conditioning became a real passion (I was the first certified strength & conditioning specialist in H.S. in GA), but basketball was my focus from the time I could play as a kid all the way through my retirement in 2014. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have a degree of success coaching the Greatest Game. Yes, I’ve had several region championship teams, four Final Four teams, a State Championship, numerous coaching awards, and over 500 career wins. But I learned a long time ago… in coaching you are only as good as your players. The Good Lord blessed me with some outstanding young people who happened to be pretty darn good players too. Looking back I just hope they know how much it meant to me to be their coach. It was never about winning – it was about doing things the right way, with all we had, every day.
About fifteen years ago I left one of the finest private schools in Atlanta to simplify my life. After fourteen years as the Director of Athletics, I was ready to just teach & coach again. Little did I know that this decision would lead me to an activity in my “free time” that would keep me sane and allow me to renew what had been missing for a number of years. I planned to hunt again. Quite frankly the hectic pace of being in charge of an entire athletic program (on top of coaching) was not the only reason I had stopped going to the woods. I just got tired of pulling the trigger on an animal. (Not that there is anything wrong with putting that good wild game food on the table). Then, out of the blue, I ran into a group of men at a major hunting show in Atlanta that were talking about a “different” way to hunt. The fact that each of these guys had a majestic raptor on their fist made quite an impact! The best part was that the president of this club (the Georgia Falconry Association) lived just five miles from my home. From that day forward I was hooked. Partnering with a wild bird of prey… I became the dog, seeking & flushing quarry. The hawk pulled the trigger. THIS was the hunting I was looking for.
From that time in August of 2000 I have tried to grow in whatever knowledge I could find about these magnificent raptors. And again, I have been blessed by many people who have shared their passion and expertise over the years. (More to come on them in a later installment).
As a master class falconer in the state of GA and maintaining a federal abatement permit by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, I’ve flown Red-tailed Hawks, Harris Hawks, kestrels and a sharpy in pursuit of prey. I’ve had experience with many others from owls, to hybrid falcons, to Bald and Golden Eagles (thanks primarily to retired Eagle trainer and Education Specialist at Auburn University, Roy Crowe). For over 14 years I’ve presented raptors and falconry to schools, churches, businesses, civic clubs, camps, State Parks, scouts, festivals and hunting shows. I was honored to serve 12 years as a director with the Georgia Falconry Association. In 2011 it was my good fortune as Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Truett McConnell College to teach what was, at the time, the only credited college falconry course in the United States.
Now, we are embarking on a new falconry venture. My wife, Sandy & I, Damon Lusky and his wife Jill, and Rodney McCallister & his wife Tonya are putting together a little company – Georgia Mountain Falconry, to introduce this 4,000 year old sport to people who are living and visiting in the NE GA. Our goal is to do things the right way, every day.