OK: Yukon teenager finds lifelong hobby at Wildlife Expo

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. to 6 p.m. both days.

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