When out-of-towners visit Columbus, their "must-see" lists might include the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, a Buckeyes game or the latest trending restaurant.

But those who venture deeper into online lists of hidden gems may wind up in a field with Joe Dorrian and a collection of birds of prey.

Dorrian, an east Columbus resident, operates the Ohio School of Falconry, the only school of its kind in Ohio and one of just a handful across the country.

An organizational-development consultant by trade, Dorrian has operated the school since 2014, but he's been dreaming of being a master falconer since he was 12 years old, inspired by the Jean Craighead George novel, "My Side of the Mountain."

"I used to walk around with a leather glove and a whistle, just in case I ran across someone's trained falcon," he said.

Now a licensed falconer, Dorrian combines the leadership classes he once taught with his falconry skills, working out of Camp Mary Orton on the north side of Columbus and using falconry "as a metaphor for team-building."

"Whether it's humans or hawks, trust is trust," he said. "It's about personalizing what a person needs to get out of it to grow and learn and develop."

Unlike other falconry schools, Dorrian's isn't based in a resort or an exotic location, and he said his pricing reflects that difference. A fee of $100 is enough for a few hours of lessons; students will be able to hold birds on their gloved hands several times, for longer periods than other schools allow, Dorrian said.

He said that time is crucial, and significantly more than the "30 seconds" other classes provide.

"The only way you can understand the sport of falconry is to have a bird on the glove," he said.

An arsenal of birds of prey accompanies Dorrian to his lessons. He has a red-tailed hawk, four Harris' hawks, a saker falcon, a lanner falcon and a screech owl, and he plans to add a barn owl and a Eurasian eagle owl to the rotation this summer.

Dorrian teaches plenty of group classes to businesses and other organizations, but he also catches the interest of people such as Carole Ann Scott and her son, Sawyer.

The pair were planning a trip to Columbus from Louisiana to visit Ohio State University, which Sawyer will attend in the fall. But they were looking for something more than the typical tourist attraction.

In the depths of crowd-sourced review site Yelp, Carole Ann Scott found Dorrian and the falconry school and thought it would be a fun way to spend a Thursday afternoon.

"You just scroll down to the bottom and that's where the weird stuff is," she said with a laugh.

Dorrian said he loves having random customers such as the Scotts. He said there's no demographic for the people he teaches, and he enjoys that portion of the job.

"It's all over the board," he said. "I love that factor."

He said he doesn't expect to "get rich" with the business -- he makes enough to "keep the doors open," which is plenty for a falconry enthusiast.

Dorrian doesn't advertise much and his social-media presence is minimal.

"People just find us," he said. "It's amazing for me that people -- just because of their interest in the sport -- do a Google search and find us. We've had well over 400 people come through the door in the last three years. It never ceases to amaze me how people find us and the fact that they're like-minded individuals."

For more information, visit ohioschooloffalconry.com.

aking@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekAndrew