Past President of the California Hawking Club
DONORS:
Michael C. Smith, Christopher D. Godfrey, The California Hawking Club
and Frank and Linda Ely
G
ary Beeman passed away peacefully after a long battle with emphysema. Gary grew up in
Orinda, CA and was among the first class graduating from Miramonte High School. He attended the University of
Montana where he received a Bachelor of Science degree before returning to Lafayette, CA to raise a family.
Gary worked as both a pest control expert and as a Wildlife Biologist studying rare and endangered animal species
including the Alameda Whipsnake and California Kangaroo Rat.
An active falconer for over 50 years, he was an avid conservationist who successfully bred falcons in captivity and was the first
to produce prairie falcon/peregrine hybrids in California. Over the years, he gave away numbers of his home-grown prairie
falcons to appreciative falconers in the West. He served as president of the California Hawking Club and was an early honorary
member. In addition, he enthusiastically mentored apprentices and generously shared his knowledge of raptors with fellow
falconers.
Bill Swearingen of Lafayette, CA was a close friend for over 40 years and remembered
him this way: “I first met Gary at a falconry meeting in Concord, CA regarding the
use of captive-bred raptors for use in falconry. At the time, he was flying a prairie/
peregrine hybrid tiercel named “Primary, which was the first he had produced. This
little falcon had more guts than many larger birds, would wait-on at 800 ft., and
knocked down ducks ranging in size between green-winged teal and mallards.
Things did not always go well for “Primary. One day, while hawking on a cattle ranch
near Moraga, “Primary” went up well and all of a sudden, a large falcon appeared and
was gaining fast on the tiercel. One minute he was flying for his life and the next he
hung from the feet of the larger falcon like a dead pigeon! The larger falcon turned
back over Gary, which was when “Primary” broke loose and dove straight to Gary and
safety. Later, this marauder was identified as a passage gray gyrfalcon, the first ever
seen on the ranch.
Gary was a good tree climber and went up to many a nest to collect an eyas Cooper’s hawk or sharp-shinned hawk. At times, he
would return eyasses to the nest in order to select a different sex of youngster. He never complained when asked to go out of his
way to do something for a friend.
As the years went by, most of the ponds and fields where we flew our birds disappeared as houses and warehouses were built.
But Gary didn’t let this stop him. He went up to the Napa Valley and received permission to fly our birds over the ponds of five
different wineries. We had it good there for another five years. When “Primary” died at the age of 12, falconry was not the same
for Gary. He tried other raptors, like Harris’ hawks, but as his health started to fail, he didn’t have the energy needed in the field.
As for me, I am now 82 years old and still flying a merlin on the ranch in Moraga. But without Gary, it’s not the same. I will
always be grateful for the memories!”
An active falconer for over
50 years, he was an avid
conservationist who successfully
bred falcons in captivity
and was the first to produce
prairie falcon/peregrine
hybrids in California.
gary served as president of the
California hawking Club and was an
early honorary member. in addition, he
enthusiastiCally mentored apprentiCes
and generously shared his knowledge of
raptors with fellow falConers.