OK: Yukon Teenager Finds Lifelong Hobby
After spending hours at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, 17-year-old Jake Sutton of Yukon knew falconry was the sport for him.
“I’ve always seen it in history books and thought it would be a cool thing to do, so the Oklahoma Falconer’s Association booth really stood out to me,” said Sutton, who is now an apprentice falconer learning the sport from an experienced mentor.
The Oklahoma Falconer’s Association has been an active participant at the Wildlife Expo for many years. Like other partners who come together each year with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to make the event happen, they operate a booth to introduce visitors to an outdoor activity and encourage them to try something new. Their booth includes live birds to give visitors an up-close glimpse.
“My family went to the Expo and I could’ve spent all day at the one booth while they were doing the other activities,” Sutton said. “They pretty much told me everything I needed to know about going into falconry. I made great connections and two of the association members allowed me to go hunting with them to see if falconry was really something I wanted to do.”
Finding quickly he had a love for falconry, Sutton began the two-year falconry apprenticeship designation phase of his falconry licensing process with the Wildlife Department, which he will complete in December. Sutton plans to attend this year’s Wildlife Expo as a booth volunteer for the Oklahoma Falconer’s Association to share what he has learned with other wildlife enthusiasts.
The Wildlife Expo is a free public event designed to generate interest in the outdoors while providing hands-on learning opportunities. Hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in partnership with a range of other state agencies, businesses, organizations and volunteers like Sutton, the Expo is the state’s largest outdoor recreation event.
Some opportunities at the Expo are considered common and popular among outdoorsman — such as fishing at a pond or shooting a shotgun — while others, such as the booth operated by the Oklahoma Falconers Association, will provide experiences and learning opportunities for all involved.
The Expo features archery and firearms ranges, a stocked fishing pond, bird watching areas, mountain bike trails, ATV test ride courses, Dutch oven cooking seminars, and even an indoor pond used for kayaking and sporting dog demonstrations. The event also features free wild game samples, live wildlife, and booths and activities that provide information, learning opportunities and recreation. Though admission and activities at the event are all free, visitors can shop at the Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace, a large area where vendors will be showcasing their outdoor-related goods and services.
The Wildlife Expo is slated for September 24 and 25 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of OKlahoma City, and admission is free. Hours of operation are 8 a.m.