In an age where hunting is mostly associated with firearms, it’s not too often one encounters a falconer on the hunt. Health Sciences District carpenter Scott DeWitt had just such an encounter when his friend unexpectedly brought a falcon along on their turkey hunt in Missouri a decade ago. Falconry’s become a big part of his life ever since.
“Most of the time I take off work is for falconry,” said DeWitt. “It’s like owning cattle, you get what you put into your bird. If you do it haphazardly, your bird doesn’t perform very well.”
Falconry, also referred to as the “Sport of Kings,” is said to have originated around 2000 B.C. in Asia, making it the oldest sport known to man. DeWitt and his Peregrine Falcon hunt ducks, partridge and pheasant (during their respective seasons) from September through February. The falcon has its own outdoor space at DeWitt’s home in South St. Paul. He also hunts with a bow and shotgun, and began bear hunting recently in his hometown of Askov, Minn.
DeWitt’s carpentry career began in Askov when he started working for a local carpenter right after high school. He then did some sewer and water construction before hitting the road for two years to build Fashion Bug stores out east. Upon his return, he ran his own siding business for eight years before re-entering the carpenter’s union. After a few years doing mostly contract work, DeWitt began working in construction at the U in 2000. By 2004, he had moved to the Health Sciences District, where he’s been ever since.
The variety of work for a carpenter at the U really appeals to DeWitt.
“I get to drive to one place each day and do an array of things,” DeWitt remarked about his job at the U. “When I was working at a sheet rock company, all you did five days a week was sheet rock. Here, one day I may do sheet rock and the next, maybe it’s hardware or windows or ceilings. I get to do it all.”
DeWitt’s expertise in falconry landed him a prime assignment in the Health Sciences District a few years back. FM had been approached by the Midwest Peregrine Foundation to build a nesting box on top of the Mayo Building to attract Peregrine Falcons for mating. As both a carpenter and falconer, DeWitt was the obvious choice for the job. After several years without results, two falcons finally nested there in 2012. They birthed four chicks last year and another three this past spring.
It’s obvious when DeWitt talks about the successful nesting of Peregrine Falcons atop the Mayo building that he really cares about both falcons and his work. His presence on FM’s carpentry staff when the project began can only be described as serendipity.