For Sandra Jung, falconry and hunting allows her to be as close as possible to nature. Sandra discovered her passion for birds of prey at the age of just 16 when she began working voluntarily at weekends for a falconry centre. Sandra subsequently acquired her hunting qualification and falconry licence in 2011.
Now the business management student runs a small bird of prey operation business between Cologne and Düsseldorf with her boyfriend Benedikt Nyssen. It all began four years ago with the Harris Hawk Dexter, named after TV serial killer Dexter Morgan. As time went on, the Harris Hawk has been joined by a female, Tequila, along with Linus the white-faced owl, Soraya the Saker falcon, Elise the jackal buzzard, Kayla the Andean eagle, Raja the steppe eagle and Milo the American bald eagle.
‘The fascinating thing about falconry is the unique relationship that develops between humans and animals. The bird is a free creature, you can’t force it to do anything and yet it decides to work voluntarily with you’, Sandra Jung commented to us when we were invited to join her on her rounds.
"IN FALCONRY, I EXPERIENCE HOW MY BIRD FOLLOWS HER NATURAL INSTINCTS, SEE HOW SHE USES INTELLIGENCE AND SKILL TO CATCH HER PREY. IT IS AN ASTONISHING NATURAL SPECTACLE!"
In the forest, she uses Dexter to demonstrate so-called free pursuit. With this type of hunting the buzzard follows the falconer and her hunting dog ‘Balu’, a one-year-old wire-haired Hanover hound, from tree to tree. ‘From his elevated position, he has a far-reaching views and hunts of his own accord’, Sandra tells us passionately: ‘In falconry I experience how my bird follows her natural instincts, watch how she uses intelligence and skill to catch her prey. I think this is an astonishing but natural spectacle! Harris Hawks are the only birds of prey who live and hunt in packs and because of this they are able to build a particularly close connection with humans.’
When asked what has been her best experience, Sandra Jung doesn’t need much time to think: ‘Every flight, every hide is unique. You experience the most colourful situations and moments. One thing I’ll never forget is my first piece of game, a little brocket in the magnificent Eifel region, and my first kill with my bird Dexter. He managed to catch a crow after several attempts and I was so proud of him.’
We look forward to meeting Sandra again in August, when it’ll be time to head out onto to the high chase.