Jan Hardaswick, Michael J. Perry, Tom and Renetta Cade, Larry Dickerson,
Kenny Sterner, Mike and Karen Yates, Lance and Lori Christensen, Steve
Sherrod, Keith Carpenter, The North American Falconers Association
by Tom Cade
Vic Hardaswick came to
work for The Peregrine
Fund at Cornell University
in 1981, bringing his wife
and two daughters to live in
a countryside setting a few
miles from Ithaca, New York. Jim Weaver hired him to help with our
growing effort to propagate Peregrines for reintroduction in the eastern
states, because he had a laboratory background working with animals
in a research department at Yale University and in helping to establish
a Primate Center, specializing in prosimians, at Duke University. He
was an avid and accomplished falconer who had already produced some
falcons of his own and was a devotee of all things to do with Peregrines.
He became an integral part of the Cornell breeding team that consisted
of Jim Weaver, Willard Heck, and Phyllis Dague, and various graduate
students. Together they raised more than 1,500 falcons, hawks, and
eagles between 1972 and 1986.
Vic and I worked together on some things, including a paper on
the breeding and reintroduction of Peregrine Falcons published in
Avicultural Magazine in 1985. When our Cornell breeding program
moved out to join our new World Center facility in Boise, Idaho in
1986, Vic joined Don Hunter in Centerville, South Dakota to run a
private, commercial raptor breeding operation, which he later took
over on his own There he produced many fine Peregrines, Gyrfalcons,
and Goshawks. He specialized in breeding white Gyrs, from the original
Cornell stock, and white Goshawks obtained from eastern Siberia.
Many of his Peregrines were used for reintroduction in the Midwest and
to some extent on the East Coast.
In 1992 the federal Wild Bird Conservation Act was signed into law,
ostensibly to control the excessive commercial trade in exotic birds
for pets. For a time it appeared that this law might also preclude the
import and export of wild birds for propagation at zoos, research
facilities, and for aviculture generally. Vic quietly worked long and hard
behind the scenes with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.
S. Scientific Authority for CITES to develop a permitting system that
came to be known as the “Cooperative Breeding Program to allow
for continued international shipment of wild birds for specific captive
breeding purposes. These regulations went into effect in October
of 2000, and Vic was the first raptor breeder to be approved for this
program. Few falconers or
breeders know how important
Vic’s efforts were in securing
this regulatory provision.
Vic was always a falconer. With
good friends Kent Christopher
and Keith Carpenter, Vic
and I hawked sage grouse in
eastern Idaho. I saw Vic’s last
successful flight one season
when his big, white gyr, Shaka,
caught her 25th consecutive
grouse without missing a
day. I will never forget those
inimitable days when big
falcons pursued big grouse
over vast expanses of sky and
we were falconers, a time made all the more memorable because of fine
companions and the stories Vic and Kent tell in their book.
Vic was very generous with his friends; he was helpful to anyone he could determine was sincere and
motivated to try falconry, any aspect of falconry. In spite of deteriorating health, Vic and Jan continued
to produce some of the finest falconry birds available anywhere. In the last decade, their good friend,
falconer, and highly successful breeder, Lance Christensen became a full partner in the project and many
of the birds were moved to his facility. Vic was a great man, husband, father, and friend. He truly loved our
sport and felt a deep, abiding, and increasingly rare need to give back to our community and the animals that
had enriched his life. We will miss our friend; falconry will miss a champion. ~Ralph Rogers
a mentor, teacher and friend
by Mike Perry
I think that when most falconers reflect on their early years, there is one person who stands above the
rest in their influence and teachings. For me, that person was Vic Hardaswick.
I met Vic and his lovely wife “Tiger” in the fall of 1958. Years later I would learn her real name is Jan. She called him “Vic”
but when she addressed him as “Victor”, he knew she was serious and he listened. They had come to East Lansing so Vic
could study at Michigan State University. At the time, my mom worked as the university librarian in charge of circulation.
When Vic discovered that all the falconry books had been checked out, in typical Vic fashion, he went right to the top to find
out who had them. My mom said he should meet her son.
I was 17 and had been struggling for 8 years without ever meeting another falconer. When my mom gave Vic our address,
he came right over. He was only a few years older than me, but light years ahead in falconry. When I first met him, I was star
struck. My messiah had come to lead me out of the darkness and indeed he did! I remember proudly showing him my first
BC. I had never seen one but had read a vague description. Vic saw it and his first question was “Why are all the nooses
lying down?” My reply: “Well, so the hawks won’t see them.” Boy, did he set me straight in a hurry.
That Christmas vacation, Vic invited me to visit him at his house in Seymour, Connecticut. His pigeon lofts were full of
pouters, rollers, tumblers, helmuts, homers, and the like. He was a student of avian genetics and his pigeons showed it. He
introduced me to the famous author-researcher Dr. Leon Whitney. Then we were off to New Jersey to meet Lou Woyce. The
three of us then went back to Philly to meet Corney McFadden and Bob Berry. At Corney’s, Vic saw his first German goshawk.
Who would have guessed what that encounter would lead to!
Vic and Lou were responsible for getting me my first beach bird. We flew our falcons behind the university everyday in
1968. Vic and Lou invited me to join them on Assateague trapping beach birds. That week was the greatest vacation I ever
Vic was adept at letting someone else do the leg work and then share in the fruits of their labor. Vic would track down a
biologist, professor, or Audubon birder who had discovered an active gos nest. We meet them, not as falconers, but as
interested birders. Vic knew all the right people to open doors for us. He always told me: “If you want lion cubs, you have to
go into the lion’s den.”
In the 50’s and 60’s, we did not have telemetry. We listened for her bells. Good bells were hard to come by. We got mostly
Indian and Pakistani bells. Some were not too bad but all lacked durability. The German George Richter was the stratavarious
of falcon bell-makers. His bells simply were the best. Vic used to say he would not mind losing a bird, but he would sure
hate to lose the Richter bells she had on. When Richter bells became very difficult to obtain, Vic took matters into his own
hands. With his best Richter bells in his pocket, he marched through the front door of one of the largest steel companies in
America. He challenged their metallurgist to duplicate the bells’ alloy. In the end, they did. They did a spectroanalysis and
fabricated the metal. Vic could now make his own quality bells. This exemplifies who Vic Hardaswick was.
In the early 60’s, Vic went to Durham, then to Cornell, and finally to Centerville. He partnered with Don Hunter to breed
raptors. We kept in touch throughout the years. Finally in 2009 I went to Centerville to see what they had accomplished. It
was most impressive, quite possibly the most diversified collection of goshawks in the world.
Vic was never very good at tying up loose ends of his many deals. The filling out of applications for permits, reports,
records, and all the clerical work was left to Jan. She was his cornerstone, his lynchpin. Everything they accomplished, they
did as a team. Vic was very proud of Jan’s accomplishments. Jan caught his eye when she won the mathematics competition
for the state of Connecticut. No small achievement. Vic had found his lifelong partner.
Vic called me a couple of years ago. We were reminiscing about the good times we had in East Lansing. He astonished me
by reciting my old house address, the street I lived on, and things about my family I had long forgotten. I am sure those
facts had not crossed his mind in over 50 years. He possessed the greatest capacity for recall of any person I have ever
known. I do not believe I ever heard Vic say “I dont remember.”
I just have to believe that there must be raptors and dogs in heaven. Otherwise, it would not be heaven for people like you,
me and Vic. I suspect that when and if I make it there, I will find Vic with a bevy of goshawks and a couple of high flying
gyrs. He certainly knew how to make them fly in the clouds.
After all is said and done, what really matters most is not how many glorious birds you’ve flown, or how they flew, or the
numbers of head taken. But rather the enduring lifelong friendships that so enrich our lives.
Thank you Victor Hardaswick for being my friend.
Jan was his
his lynchpin.
Everything they
they did as a