Travel

Learn the art of getting falcons to kill stuff for you

As a red-blooded American, chances are that your experience with hunting involves camouflage, a rifle, and three early episodes of Duck Dynasty. Turns out, we've got it 100% wrong. Apparently, real men don't need bows or bullets or even duck calls to kill their prey -- no, real men get the birds to do their killing for them, Beastmaster-style. 

And lucky for you, the Emirates' Banyan Tree Al Wadi hotel's introduced a brand-new course to teach you and other guests the seemingly lost art of hunting with falcons.

For the uninitiated, falconry is hugely popular in the Middle East; you can literally walk into a store like the one pictured above and find falcons for sale. Which is, in itself, pretty awesome. Only problem, as a newb to the world of hunting with birds, you're just as likely to get your your eyes raked by the cruel talons of a bird of prey as you are to get the damn thing to kill you a rabbit.

Which is where this course comes in.

Your two days of lessons will be equally divided between theory (history, species identification, food prep) and practical information (handling, hooding, and tracking), with the ultimate goal of being able to interact with these fierce birds in a way that doesn't result in getting your face pecked off.

Here's what it'll look like once you've earned the respect of the sharp-taloned killing machine that's perched on your arm.

You'll be taught a combination of traditional Arabic techniques and modern Western methods (like the use of high-tech radio tracking systems), and if you opt for a private course, the experience'll be tailored to your personal hunting preferences and the length of your stay.

Oh right, your stay! The falconry experience is impressive, so it's easy to forget that you're also bedding down at a five-star luxury hotel -- until you return to your villa, of course. Accommodations start at $576/nt and Falconry course participants receive a 20% discount.

But we digress. Back to the birds! In addition to the course, students can learn more about these incredible animals by visiting the Raptor Display at the Falconry Mews Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre, where they'll be able to interact with kestrels, owls, hawks, eagles, and (of course) more falcons.

Finally, to make it all official, you'll receive a handsome certificate upon completing the course. Although just so you know, it'll probably take a few more hours of training before you're able to start your own feathered menagerie back home. Good luck.


Gianni Jaccoma is an editorial assistant for Thrillist Travel, and he’s wanted to learn this stuff ever since he first saw Ladyhawke on VHS. Follow his bird-brained tweets @gjaccoma.