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REMEMBERING matthew livingston frey
WVFC Loses VP & Founding Member
It is with great sadness that we must announce the unexpected passing, on November 8, 2020, of West Virginia Falconry Club Vice President Matthew Frey.

Matt was a member of the Potomac Falconer's Association and a founding member of the West Virginia Falconry Club.  Matt served as treasurer of the PFA in the late 1990s and as vice president of the PFA in the early 2000s.  He served as vice president of the West Virginia Falconry Club from it's inception until the time of his death.

A falconer since 1997, Matt started with red-tails, but his forte and passion was flying Harris's hawks on rabbits. His best bird was a Harris's hawk named Sonora, who he flew for 17 seasons before retiring her to a breeding program.

Though he would humbly try to deny such credit, Matt was the driving force in shaping the West Virginia Falconry Regulations into what they are today. Most would have walked away from the daunting task, but Matt boldly took it on and worked together with the WVDNR to make falconry possible in the state.

Matt was an accomplished artist and illustrator, doing work for magazines such as Kids Discover, the Nature Conservancy Magazine and the National Geographic Society. His illustrations have also appeared in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the Field Museum, and in 2013, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp with two of Matt's illustrations of barn swallows.

In addition to his wife, Melissa, Matt is survived by his four children, Katelynn R. Metz-Murphy, Owen L. Frey, Nathanael E. Frey, and Oliver M. Frey, all at home in Charles Town; his mother, Diana Zilahy, of Glastonbury, CT; his father, Peter, of Martinsburg, WV; a sister, Lauren Daisley, of Cold Spring, NY; a step-sister, Nancy Carter, of South Windsor, CT; and a step- brother, Michael Zilahy, of Glastonbury, CT. He was preceded in death by his step-father Walter Zilahy.

Matt is terribly missed among the falconry community, but his legacy as a falconer of integrity and defender of falconry in the state of West Virginia will live on through his work with the West Virginia Falconry Club and the state's regulations. We are all incredibly fortunate to have had Matt in our lives.
Matt (right), after a successful hunt with fellow falconer and friend Jason Caldwell.  
Matt in the field with cast of Harris's hawks.  
Matt (left), holding a freshly-trapped RT, with fellow falconer and friend Howard Caldwell.  
Tiercel haggard red-tailed hawk silhouetted.  
Event announcement
Falconer's Workshop
The WVFC will host a Falconer's Workshop to be held Saturday, April 3, 2021 from 10:00a - 3:00p, at the residence of club member Heather McNemar in Buckhannon, WV. The workshop is open to prospective falconers and falconers of all levels and will cover subjects from trapping to field tips. Not just an apprentice workshop! Lunch will be provided by the club and many great raffle items will be up for grabs, so be sure to bring some cash. RSVP to Heather McNemar by March 20th.
rsvp to heather mcnemar

Trading red-tailed hawk off fox squirrel.
Small Game Proves Hard to Find
Most of us are aware that small game is cyclical, but knowing that doesn't make those down seasons easier to swallow.  This season, we've had a number of reports from falconers across the state that have indicated a reduction from the previous season in small game numbers (particularly squirrels).  While falconers have continued to hawk in an effort to make the best of it, some falconers have put away the red-tails early.  Some have even switched to a focus on rabbits with Harris's hawks.

January and February are always the hardest parts of the season.  This has been especially true this season due to the lack of game and frigid temperatures that have kept the few existing squirrels holed up in den trees.  Still, there are seasoned falconers that encourage us to be optimistic about next season, because they've rarely seen these down years happen consecutively.  As this season comes to a close, we can only hope these falconers are right!
Dave and hunting party with his bird Grettel and gray squirrel.

october 27, 2020
The Shortest Hunt
written by falconer and club member David Trenton. 

A week ago, a man asked me if his friends who were coming into town could go hunting with me.  He said they'd love to see a hawk hunting, so I said, "Sure!"

I figured these friends were going to be in their 50's, but when I meet them the day of the hunt, I discover they are both in their 80's.  I was thinking, "How is this even going to be possible?"

So I explain to them how it usually goes and that sometimes I have to do some running.  I also explain that there's always a lot of walking, too.  They assured me they could handle the walking and said if I had to run that they'd catch up.  We hit the woods!

We walked about 50 yards from the vehicles, and I removed Grettel's hood.  I cast her off to a tree.  Both men sat down on a log literally when the work was about to begin.  

So I'm thinking to myself, "Well, this isn't going to be much of a hunt."

But then, at that exact moment, Grettel started working a gray squirrel in the tree I was under.  She makes a pass and misses.  The squirrel starts running toward me and stops about 20 feet above me, staring me in the face!

Grettel is above in a different tree, but can't see it, so I slap the tree to get it moving.  The squirrel takes a dive right over me.  Grettel dives, too, but misses.  Grettel banks, takes another shot and slams it.  

All the while, the old men are over there sitting on their log like they're watching television.  

It's the least amount of walking I've ever done and the fastest hunt I've ever had.  I still can't believe it happened like that, but I do believe God heard me and put that squirrel there that day!
apprentice updates
Apprentice Rich Moats Traps & Trains First Red-Tailed Hawk
picnic group photo
Rich's bird Artemis, dancing on the trap on day of trapping.
Trapping and training your first bird is a big rite-of-passage in falconry.  This season, apprentice falconer Rich Moats put over 3,000 miles on his vehicle and got to see areas of West Virginia he'd never set eyes on before when he was B.C. trapping for his first bird.  

Rich and his sponsor, Curt Parkins, saw many raptors during their time spent trapping.  They ended up trapping five of those birds and keeping the fifth, a tiercel passage red-tail weighing in at 42 ounces off the trap with a full crop and a three on the keel.

Rich reported that the new bird, which he named Artemis, manned down quickly and is of gentle temperament.  He also reported that his first free flying experience did not go as planned, and Artemis ended up spending a night out after flying off.  The bird followed well at first, but then started leap frogging ahead of them, then refused to come to the lure after Rich and Curt relocated him.  He then took off again, this time in an open area with a strong tail wind.  It was at this point, the bird went out of sight. Rich was not flying telemetry, so he was not able to locate Artemis that evening. 

Fortunately when he returned the next morning near the last location he had seen the bird, Artemis came down to the lure.  Rich said that the saying, "If you come home with your bird, then it's a good day," definitely held true for him that day.

Rich has since worked closely with Curt to dial in his bird's weight, and he continues to work hard with Artemis in an effort to take their first head of game together.  Thank you Rich for sharing your story this season.
Rich Moats with his red-tailed hawk, Artemis.
Calling all falconers
Share Your Stories!
Falconers in West Virginia are spread out across the state.  In an effort to bring members together, we love to share your photos and stories through our newsletter.  Pictured (left) is falconer Dave Trenton's hen RT Grettel with fox squirrel.  Email photos and stories to:
Thank You!
Be sure to support the vendors who support our club.  A little note of thanks is always appreciated, too. 
The West Virginia Falconry Club is always grateful for the support of vendors that help the club and its members.  When in need of gear, please consider these respected vendors:  Northwoods Limited, Western Sporting, Counce Bells, Marshall Radio Telemetry, A Clarke Falconry, Falconry Hoods International, Pineo Falconry, Craig Leashes, Mike's Falconry Supplies, Rodent Pro, JR's Sports.
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