Joe Branham gave a presentation on falconry - hunting using trained birds of prey - showing off his Goshawk to an agriculture class last week at Southwestern High School.

Branham has been a falconer for 20 years and has trained a variety of raptors to hunt.

"It takes a lot of commitment and a lot of time," Branham said.

The Pekin, Ind., native taught the Goshawk he's currently using to hunt while it was still young.

Branham said it takes time to train the birds, and there's always a chance they won't return when they're released to hunt.

"There's not an emotional bond like there is with a dog," Branham said. "She knows she's going to be fed well if she stays with me."

Branham said he usually releases birds back into the wild when he feels it's time to move on. The animals still retain their survival skills, he told the class.

Branham has worked with hawks, falcons and owls.

(Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/