Dupuy recounts his adventures for the unusually attentive Cub Scouts assembled in the Ten Oaks Ballroom in Clarksville, Md., for their annual Blue and Gold banquet. Part stand-up comedian, part storyteller, part social activist, Dupuy puts on an energetic and informative presentation called “Hawk Talk,” where he touches on raptor identification, captive reproduction, hunting before bow or gun, trapping methods, and raptor conservation, all with a stunning visual aid, a Harris Hawk named Copper.
The moment he releases Copper from its ”giant hood,” the fidgety scouts freeze, riveted as they are brought eyeball to eyeball with one of the world’s great hunters. Copper beats the air with its striped wingtips fanning out overhead. Dupuy waits under its shifting talons before soliciting questions. It’s only a moment before the scouts eagerly oblige him: “What does he like to eat?” “ Where did you get it?” and “How did you get into falconry?” Parents are straining to see across the room, readying cameras. Dupuy is happy to respond to them all. After more than 15 years as a professional public speaker, he hopes to become the premier educator of birds of prey and man’s 4,000-year relationship with them through national media.
Dupuy’s birds have been featured in National Geographic
Magazine, the Washington Post,
Inspired by Jean Craighead George’s novel, My Side of the Mountain,
Dupuy discovered he wanted to be a falconer at age 10. “I
read the book 13 times, fascinated by the idea of
Licensed by state and federal agencies, Dupuy traps his own animals, trains them, feeds them, and provides veterinary care himself when needed. After a successful hunt, he feeds the catch to the bird. It takes him just two to three weeks to train a wild bird to hunt with him…. “It’s a lot like dating. You have to find out whether [it] will come back to you—but you have to have confidence, and you have to let it go. There’s no keeping it on a string.”
Originally from Haiti, Dupuy came to New York City in 1966 at age six, as the son of an ambassador during Aristide’s first term as the first democratically elected president. Because of his parent’s political exile during “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s reign, their multiple relocations, and their subsequent divorce, he attended 13 different schools by high school, four different high schools, and at age 16, he got a job, moved into a group house, and lived on his own. He supported himself by working at McDonalds and, later, at a Safeway supermarket. But checking groceries day after day wasn’t satisfying: “I thought that if I plotted my life on a graph, I would just see a continuous flat line here...I just knew I had to go forward with my education.” At 18, Dupuy enrolled at Montgomery College for the same reasons many do—it was close to home, which allowed him to continue working, and it fit his budget.
"The best thing about
Montgomery College was the people I met. The whole experience
Dupuy successfully ran for student senate president at
the Rockville Campus and served in that post from 1980–81. “As
a student leader, I got to meet with deans, provosts, the college
Counselor Stu Brosseit,
a 34-year veteran at the College, recalls, “Mike
has a marvelous personality for meeting people. He is multifaceted,
and has traits that I see in top leaders.”
After 15 years in sales with a company car, and a
house in the Maryland suburbs, Dupuy
“I can’t tell you what it’s like to be out in the woods after a fresh fallen snow beating the brush to flush out a rabbit, with a hawk following you 100 feet in the air... It’s not about catching the rabbit; it’s about being out there—witness to the perfect intersection of time, hunger, and opportunity. And you just don’t get that sensation sitting on the couch pushing buttons.”
An active member of the North American Falconer Association, Dupuy travels around the country to hawk meets. He runs falconry camps for “ages 9 through 95,” writes about his experiences, and runs a successful hawk food company, Mike Dupuy Hawk Food. “I had trouble getting supplied, so I started a company, and now we sell a top-ofthe- line product.” Obviously, Dupuy can’t resist a good opportunity—to feed hawks, or to feed the minds and hearts of his next audience.