North American Falconers Association, Scott McNeff, John and Vicki
Swift, Wyoming Falconers Association
arold “Hal or Webbie M. Webster Jr., 99, passed away at his
residence in Ft. Benton, Montana. Per his wishes, there were
no services. Hal was born in Denver, Colorado to Harold and
Frances (Zimmerly) Webster. He was one of four children.
Hal attended school in Colorado and college at Colorado Community
College. When the family moved to Arizona, Hal continued his education
at the University of Arizona. Hal met the love of his life,
Catherine Louise Gibson (“Kaytee”) while at a church
party while in college. The couple was dedicated to each
Shortly after graduation, Hal was called to active
duty in the US Navy. During this time, Kaytee made
their home in Fresno, California while Hal served in
the Pacific Theatre. Their first child, Caroline Trudie,
was born during this time. Hal was released from
active duty in December, 1945 and the family settled
in Pocatello, Idaho. Kaytee gave birth to their other
three children while there: Harold M. Webster III,
Bruce Frederick Webster, and Chris Holland Webster.
Shortly after their return to Denver, Hal went to work
for Mountain Bell Telephone Company as a marketing
manager. He worked for the company for 30 years.
Hal’s passion was for falconry. He was a recognized
authority and was highly respected for his
knowledge, expertise and training methods.
He established the North American Falconers
Association and co-authored North American
Falconry and Hunting Hawks with Canadian
falconer Frank Beebe. The book
was in its 9th edition at the time of
Hal’s passing. Hal also assisted and
advised the USAF Academy in the
establishment of their falcon mascot.
Hal moved to Ft. Benton in 1999
because he had a chance to “fly
birds, and hunt and fish, the beauty
of Montana, and his love of nature.
Hal was preceded in death by his
parents, his wife, one sister, Jean
Frances, and brother, William. He is
survived by his children and his sister Beverly McMurria.
Hal is greatly missed by his many friends and the
worldwide falconry community.
In Memory of
Harold Hal Webster Jr
February 20, 1920 May 31, 2019
2017 Interview
with Hal
Compiled from telephone interviews
of Hal Webster in 2017 by Anne
P.S. Price for the NAFA Intangible
Cultural Heritage Committee. Anne
spent several hours over many days
interviewing Hal whose health was
declining during this time. Anne
talked with Hal patiently and with
respect, sensitivity and good humor.
The falconry community is grateful to
Anne for preserving Hal’s thoughts and
Harold Melvin ‘Hal’ Webster was
introduced to falconry in the early
1930’s as he was growing up in
Denver, CO. Three local boys caught
Cooper’s hawks and prairie falcons
and Hal became friends with them.
They were all instructed on the
species, zoology and traditions of
falconry by Bob Niedrach of the
Denver Museum of Natural History.
There were 4 - 5 pairs of peregrines
around the Denver area in those
years. Hal was always interested in
birds, fish, and ornithology. Falconry
“satisfied an itch I had.”
During the 1930’s and 40’s Hal
read many books on falconry. In
1941 his grandmother, whose
sister was also Albert Einstein’s
secretary, started picking up books.
She would find rare book dealers
and order in falconry books. Hal
began corresponding with folks in
the United Kingdom after he read
Gilbert Blaine’s book. Hal also was
an early member of some British
hawking clubs and he knew Charles
Knight, aka. CWR Knight. During
served for a time in the Pacific
Theater in the Navy during WWII.
“When I heard about something
new in the sport, I usually went
straight to that person and asked if
I could observe … straight from the
horse’s mouth!”
Hals’ first bird was a prairie falcon
from an eyrie near Franktown, CO.
He was roped off and lowered into
the eyrie. Since this beginning there
have been so many new things
incorporated into falconry. Telemetry
and a lot of nylon, or other
materials for furniture not made
from leather, like hood braces.The
readily available online equipment
was “a positive thing, so that
people can get good equipment
exactly made and fitted for their
birds. “I made terrible hoods for 10
years before I figured out where to
buy them!” During Hal’s lifetime
there also were great changes to
the laws governing the sport, and
it is managed by the State Game
Wild caught grykins were Hal
Webster’s favorite birds to fly.
He felt they were fast, smart,
maneuverable, versatile, obedient
and tame. He didn’t feel that a
captive bird and a wild raised bird
were equal. “The lessons that a
wild bird learns, especially during
the first 10 days flying after parents
for food, are critical. Wild birds are
in better condition.”
Frank Beebe and Hal Webster wrote
North American Falconry & Hunting
Hawks, published in 1962. They
began in 1960 by writing headings
for 45 chapters, and then separated
the work, each taking a half. Frank
took the accipiters and Hal took the
falcons. They sent the manuscripts
back and forth to each other for
critique. Hal’s mother, Frances
loaned them $15,000 to print 2000
copies of the book. Many new
falconers contacted the authors
after reading this book.
In 1955 discussion began
about starting a club with
Hal Webster, Frank Beebe,
Peter Asborno, Al Nye
and others. Eventually
this became the North
American Falconers
Association. The intent
was to promote the sport
of falconry across the world
and give new falconers a
way to obtain information
from the experts in the
sport and to connect via
NAFA meets. The regional,
national and international
falconry meets were good
times to talk with other
falconers and to learn new
skills and see different birds.
Hal’s son, Bruce Webster
learned falconry by
watching his father. Bruce
flew birds for about 10
To keep the sport of falconry
active in the future Hal felt that
introducing environmental people
to the sport was necessary, they
needed to learn more about
falconry. There was concern that
people are selfish; falconers want
to kill too many grouse and have a
high head count at the end of the
season. Hal advised young falconers
“Don’t be in a hurry. Keep the
numbers of birds you’re trying to fly
down. A good falconer keeps their
eyes open, their mouth shut.” Hal
said that new falconers needed to
know the difference in flying wild-
caught birds over captive bred birds,
and to not weather the wild birds
too much, or too early. “They bate
too much!”
“The apprentice falconer can always
learn if given the opportunity. All
falconers need to help out the
clubs that they belong to, and they
should serve a term or two as a
director, officer, or other volunteer.
It is selfish to say that you cannot
serve the club that supports
falconry, using the excuse that you
are ‘too busy flying your falcon.”
Hal’s passion was for
falconry. He was a
recognized authority
and was highly
respected for his
knowledge, expertise
and training methods.