Donors
Alan Beske, Bryan Culbertson, Mike Dupuy, Francine
Forrester, Sean Gallagher, John Harrell, Charles Harry,
H. P. Lee, Stanley Marcus, William Mattox, Michael Perry,
Marek Plater, F. P. Ward, Michael Yates
I don’t recall when or where I met Louit was
probably on Assateague Island or when I was
visiting Corny McFadden—but sometime in the
1960s we became close friends after he moved
his family to within a few miles of my home. We
were both hustling the buck at the time, but
we found time to innovate falconry issues like
designing better fitting hoods, more effective
trapping equipment, and telemetry in pursuit of
our passion. Most important, we trapped and
hawked together.
Our finest hours together were, of course, in
the field, at a time when falconry was a rare
anachronism without enabling legislation, and
all raptors, with the exception of accipiters and
hoot owls were protected and therefore a gray
area in the law at best.
In 1963-64, the Maryland authorities were
aware that some men from the Tri-state area
were trapping peregrine falcons on Assateague
Island, Maryland, each fall, but they were totally
ignorant of how this was done. I recall an inci-
dent where Corny took the local warden out
for a day on his sailboat, while Lou swept the
beaches clean of falcons. Rumor has it that Dr.
Squeaky Clean Bill Maddox was also involved in
this charade. Some of us were forced to swim
the channel with birds to avoid taking the ferry
toward a possible confrontation, and on at least
one occasion the warden had an untimely flat
tire and was precluded from giving chase. All
rumors, no doubt, but a sign of volatile times
ahead.
When Corny and Lou arrived home that year,
Pennsylvania wardens were waiting. They visited
me as well but did not confiscate any birds.
We were given six months to pass a law legal-
izing falconry. Lou and I mounted the usual
letter-writing campaign and visited legislators.
The opposition was unaware of our bill until
it passed overwhelmingly in the Pennsylvania
House of Representatives.
Things changed. Both Audubon and the Hawk
Mountain Sanctuary Association mounted ag-
gressive campaign to kill our bill in the Senate.
We were outgunned and out manned! The
day of the Senate vote, Lou and I entered the
Senate chambers with a dog-tame eyas tiercel
Peale’s peregrine. We were immediately sur-
rounded by senators asking questions, which
we politely answered. Suddenly, one of the sen-
ators asked if Senator “so and so” could touch
the bird, and I started to explain that birds were
not like dogs, when another senator whispered
in my ear that Senator “so and so” is blind.
Immediately I asked the blind senator if he
would like to hold the unhooded falcon on his
fist? With a scowl he nodded “yes.” After a few
seconds a broad smile broke out over his face as
he exclaimed, “ooooo prickly feet!” All the other
senators smiled as well. We held our breath as
the vote was cast. We needed 26 votes to win,
and that was exactly what we got.
Lou and I had worked long and hard to make
this happen, but it was the impression made
by two clean-cut well-dressed young men and
a bird that made it happen. Maryland also ap-
proved falconry as a field sport that year, among
the forerunners of legalization. Maryland issued
nonresident take permits for peregrines until
the Federal Endangered Species Act shut down
all trapping of the species in 1970.
Lou found it hard to adapt to life without beach
peregrines; trapping a new bird or two each
year had been a major part of his falconry.
Lou’s mentor, Corny McFadden, succumbed to
an untimely death during this period, which
was a blow to all who knew him. Lou also had
domes
tic problems at home and was soon di-
vorced.
Lou and I saw each other socially, and I am
pleased to recall that Lou met Sandy Malek
Benjamin at a party at my home many years
ago, and it was love at first sight for both of
them. They have been inseparable ever since.
Since moving to Wyoming in 1978, I only saw
Lou at the few falconry meets I attended. Old
friends are good friends, and our infrequent
meetings were joyous reunions. Lou’s memory
will always be a part of me! by Bob Berry
NAFA JOURNAL 2009, Vol. 48
Excerpts from Tributes to Lou
Woyce from the NAFA Journal 2009
Lou Woyce passed away on May 24, 2009 near his
home outside Berlin, MD at the age of 81. Lou had
been ill with various ailments for some time and, ac-
cording to his wife Sandy, died peacefully and will-
ingly.
Lou should certainly have had no regrets. He had
moved in 1990 to a house near Assateague Island
beach, where he was able to live a retirement life of
flying favorite falcons and seeing the annual autumn
passage of his beloved peregrines. Through last fall
he rode the beach to band peregrines with Mike
Yates and Bill Seegar.
I met Lou in the late part of 1949 when a small
group of us went out to “Widener’s” near
Philadelphia to watch Carl Schreiber fly his passage
peregrine. Less than a year later Lou was drafted into
the U.S. Army and spent time in Korea as a recon
leader.
Louis Charles Woyce, Jr. was born in the Mt. Airy
section of Philadelphia on March 27, 1928. His fam-
ily was half Polish and half Irish. He was one of
four kids, and attended LaSalle Prep School where
he was City champ in the long jump. He attended
LaSalle College where he was on the swim team and
starred on the track team; he was Middle Atlantic
Conference champion in the long jump.
After his stint in the Army, Lou worked for IBM
and in 1962 joined West Virginia Pulp & Paper
Corporation. He always flew falcons, never short-
wings. After protection of the endangered peregrine
he flew a saker, prairie falcons, and various hybrids.
Lou was an intense, dedicated falconer, a leader of
the so-called Corny’s Army, trapping with McFadden
on the beach and flying at Widener’s. When Corny
conned young falconry neophytes to undertake
various chores around his place, I don’t think Lou
was taken in too badly. He taught himself to make
hoods, using blocks and patterns of his friend Bob
Widmeier. Lou was always innovating; he is, with
Widmeier, credited with the “smiley face” beak open-
ing of the Dutch hood he made with unusual skill.
Lou also made fine blocks. He was known for his
high-flying falcons. Lou had unusually keen eyesight,
was an athletic man, strong, personable, and loyal.
I corresponded with Lou for years, especially when
I lived overseas. I learned most about Lou’s activi-
ties from Corny McFadden, who had an old portable
typewriter on which he cranked out letters to falcon-
ers from USA to Holland, Belgium, and the UK.
Lou’s service in the Army in Korea prevented him
from going to Greenland with Corny in 1951. But
you would think that he’d been there because he
knew all the stories front to back! And he savored
the times flying the prized white gyr with Corny, who
was so casual about everything that it drove Lou up
the wall! That casualness finally lost a good white
hawk.
A good, strong man’s-man has left us. Falconry ben-
efited in untold ways from this craftsman falconer.
— by Bill Mattox
Lou was the real thing. An Army combat veteran of
the Korean War, he was earlier a lifeguard at Ocean
City, NJ. He briefly dated Grace Kelly before the
world became her stage. A 1964 Saturday Evening
Post article by Bob Berry featured a full-color photo
of Lou in a mid-air dive to secure a noosed per-
egrine on Assateague Island. I met Lou over four
decades ago at joint gatherings we D.C. area and
Pennsylvania falconers held. I also encountered him
during trapping expeditions at Assateague. I didn’t
get to know him well then, but was always grate-
ful that men like Woyce, Berry, Rice, Nye, McDonald
and Gatti took the time to eventually befriend punk
kids like me. Through the fog of time I remember
that Lou’s birds often flew the highest and the best
during falconry gatherings. He was also one of the
premier beach trappers, and I wanted desperately to
emulate all his attributes.
Lou and Sandy bought land in the 1980s on the
mainland looking across the bay to Assateague and
built their retirement home. They moved there upon
Lou’s 1990 retirement and he soon began to fly fal-
cons again. We renewed and expanded our acquain-
tance, and he became a fixture in my truck during
the autumn surveys whenever he wished (which
was often). We became fast friends, and through
our long talks I learned of the qualities that made
him such a success as a falconer and a man. He
was steadfast, resolute, thoughtful, giving, humor-
ous and self-deprecating. Lou was not, however, all
sweetness and light. He had an acute BS detector,
no respect for those who did not properly care for
their birds, and no tolerance for fools or braggarts.
To my knowledge, he excelled at every endeavor to
which he applied his considerable talents and ener-
gies. Lou had few peers as an equipment maker, and
was constantly surprising me with gifts of his latest
gear. It might be a beautiful hood that fit my hybrid
perfectly, a leash or swivel, or even a falcon block he
crafted from washed-up timbers we had collected on
Assateague during breaks in trapping. He sold that
gear, but it was never about the money. Lou’s satis-
faction came from having his creations in the hands
of those who could truly appreciate them and would
use them to elevate the quality of their falconry.
His stories were captivating and, if you missed some
details in any one you could count on hearing it
again before too long. I enjoyed the early beach
trapping tales and those of flights with some of his
favorite falcons, such as the saker “Kismet” and the
first-year haggard beach bird “Rags”. Many of Lou’s
tales involved Corny McFadden, whom he idolized.
I knew Corny as well, and he was an imposing and
iconic figure in early American falconry. But while
Lou knew he was a much more proficient falconer,
he probably never came to understand that his own
accomplishments and lasting influence on our cul-
ture far exceeded those of his mentor. Some of my
favorite stories were those where Lou enjoyed and
provided a good laugh at his own expense. One of
those involved the perfumed letter he received after
publication of the Saturday Evening Post photo, and
his smiling anticipation as he read the fawning words
of admiration and attraction from the writer. The rev-
elation that the signature read “John” never failed to
elicit a hearty laugh from all present.
In February the time had come for me to take cus-
tody of Lou’s beloved 13-year-old hybrid tiercel
Arrow” as I had promised a couple of years back.
Lou honored me by entrusting Arrow to my care.
I flew east to see Lou two weeks before he passed
away, and his clarity of mind belied the ravages his
body had undergone. I showed him photos of trap-
ping peregrines in Texas, Greenland, Alaska and
Russia. He proudly presented me with one of his
beautiful and innovative “Khan” hoods. We talked
of September on Assateague and plans for trapping
together once more. Instead, we will be scattering
his ashes there where mine will ultimately reside. I
see Lou every day in Arrow when I visit his chamber,
and can’t wait to put him in the air this fall and thus
continue my bond with his partner. What is it about
falconry that attracts the best of men and women?
There may be no real answer to that question, but I
do know that Lou was among the best of men and
that we were all fortunate to have him in our ranks
and in our lives.
— by Mike Yates
I think most falconers can look back at their early
years and identify one or two individuals who
were very influential to them. For me it was Vic
Hardaswick and Lou Woyce. Vic found me at
Michigan State University. I was drowning in a sea
of ignorance and inexperience. It was 1960, I was 19
and had spent the last ten years without every meet-
ing an “Honest to God Falconer”. Vic was light years
ahead of me in experience. He knew all of these
wonderful falconers with names like Meng, Rice,
McFadden, Berry and Woyce, to name a few.
I had seen Lou’s picture in the Saturday Evening Post.
They were doing an article on trapping peregrines
on Assateague Island and wanted an action shot, so
Lou complied. The picture has Lou stretched full
out, in midair, diving on a harnessed peregrine.
Lou told me later that he would never approach a
trapped bird that way but it did make a very dramatic
photo. At Christmas break Vic invited me to visit him
in Connecticut. We headed to New Jersey to see
Lou, and he could not have been more gracious and
giving. He immediately started showing us how he
made his beautiful dutch hoods, and we left with
blocks and matching patterns. That’s how Lou was...
so giving and with no big ego to get in the way of be-
ing a genuinely nice guy. The next day Lou, Vic and
I headed for Philly to see Corny McFadden and Bob
Berry. As we raced down the turnpike with Lou driv-
ing, he kept pointing out distant raptors. Some were
so far way that I couldn’t see the tree, let alone the
bird. He had phenomenal eyes for spotting hawks.
That afternoon we went out with Corny to fly his
birds. He had a cast of beach birds that were all over
the sky. He kept asking Lou where were they, and
were they coming back? Lou was so patient with
him, and you could tell that they were very close
friends.
In the fall of 1965 I met up with Vic and Lou to
trap Assateague. This turned out to be one of the
greatest trips of my life. We headquartered in an at-
tic of a house that had succumbed to a hurricane.
The room was filled with screen perches loaded
with fresh-caught tundra birds. It was really some-
thing to behold. That night Corny invited all of us
over for a steak dinner. The wind was blowing the
sand around so hard we couldn’t keep it out of the
meat. No matter, as Corny was relating how he had
gone AWOL from the Army during WWII to look
up George Lodge, the famous British painter who
was so renowned for his works on falconry. Corny
obtained several of Lodge’s original paintings. They
adorned his home in Philly and were fabulous.
Eventually we trapped three birds, thanks to Lou’s
expertise and great eyes. He was very disciplined
in his approach to trapping. He always kept at least
two or three lure birds harnessed at all times. He
demanded that we be on the beach before any sign
of light was in the eastern sky. I thought he was
crazy when we set out to run the beach with the
headlights on. Sure enough, we found a peregrine
on a flicker it had just killed. It was totally dark! He
taught me the do’s and don’ts of trapping...to re-
spect the nooses and how to maintain them. Over
the years Lou sent me some wonderful birds, never
asking for anything back. He truly did make wonder-
ful hoods.
Eventually I sort of lost contact with Lou. I had
moved from Michigan to Washington so we were
a continent apart, but I have never forgotten the
kindness of this most gracious man. Lou Woyce
was a prince! If any of you has occasion to be on
Assateague Island the last week of September or the
first few weeks of October, keep a close lookout for a
phantom jeep being driven by a tall, lean, handsome
individual whose passenger is a hulk of a man with
bushy eyebrows and flowing white hair. I am sure it
will only be a quick glimpse as they disappear over a
distant dune. Odds are it is Lou and Corny, together
again and going like hell to get ahead of just one
more beach bird. Thank you Lou, for being you! I
am sure that God has blessed your soul.
— by Mike Perry
Some time in the early Sixties I had the good fortune
to meet Lou Woyce at Heinz Meng’s in N.Y. A fellow
falconer, H.B. Risley and I had traveled to Heinz’s to
watch him fly his passage peregrine. Lou happened
to stop by and, having heard of his falconry exploits
over the years, I was honored to actually meet the
man.
A long friendship of nearly fifty years developed from
that chance meeting in New Paltz. When Lou came
to our wedding in ’62, true to form, we were han-
dling a bird and Lou got footed in the chest. A bit
messy, but the ceremony went on as planned.
A few years later Lou invited me to spend a week or
two trapping on the coastal barrier beaches. These
trips spanned about ten years and to say Lou and I
had a great time is an understatement. From eating
freshly dug clams and enjoying soft shell crabs, bar-
gaining with the local fishermen for fresh-caught fish
and bathing in the surf, Lou was full of life and fun
to be with. I still chuckle at the photo of him skinny
dipping one afternoon on the outer banks of North
Carolina.
Lou was a great friend who is sorely missed by me
as well as the falconry community. He leaves a great
void and his memory will always be held in the high-
est esteem by all who knew him.
— by Vic Hardaswick