Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Awesome Upland Road Trip’

us mapFlorida, Georgia, Alabama, New York, Kentucky, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, California, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Oregon.

That’s 20 states I’ve hunted, many more than once and several, dozens of times. It is a daunting list, not just because of the road and air miles invested but because so many of these states are full of wonderful people and places I’d like to visit more often.

In all of them, I’ve made new friends. I’ve shared truck cabs and wall tents with good old friends. My dogs have banked enough windshield time to get a driver’s license.

What have I learned from so many border crossings, time zones and area codes? Where to start?

Keep things ship-shape in the vehicle. Everything in its place, every time. When you stop for gas, check the oil, diesel exhaust fluid, and clean the windshield because next stop, it might be cold or raining.

Feed the dogs on schedule. It’s one of the few constants they have on a road trip. Bring extra batteries and owner’s manuals for everything.

Cram in as many warm clothes as you can. Bring extra rain gear for someone else. Carry a bottle of something old and brown and leave it with your hosts. Save your back, invest in those fabric fold-up dog kennels for pet friendly hotels.

Call ahead and stop to visit friends along the way, even if you don’t think you have the time. Send thank you notes. When you stop, water the dogs first. Find off-the-beaten-track places to park so dogs are safe and unstressed. I like high school athletic fields and county fairgrounds. Bring tie-out stakes.

Carry water for your dogs and yourself. Refill at every opportunity. Same for your fuel tank; there are a lot of empty spaces on the map. Bring bowls for your dogs.

Eat at local joints instead of chains. Be nice to wait staff. Carry a thermos. Buy your groceries close to your destination – in many communities you are economic development. Learn a little bit about the place you’re visiting. Pronounce place names correctly. Visit with kitchen staff at the lodge.

Find something to compliment: your buddy’s dog, good shot, a well-managed covert, fine booze, special dinner.

None of this will help you shoot more birds or make your dogs steadier. But in the long run, you will be enriched by the memories you make, the friendships forged. The journey will rise a notch or two on your life list.

Whether your trip is across the county or the country you will be a better hunter. And person.

Read Full Post »

Sometimes, it's just the companionship of a tired hunting partner that makes your trip.

Sometimes, it’s just the companionship of a tired hunting partner that makes your trip.

When I ask you in my surveys why you go hunting, you cite dog work, friends and being in beautiful places. You seldom mention the journey, the getting there, the Road Trip. Maybe it doesn’t belong in the Pantheon of those reasons, but for me (and I’ll bet you) there is value in the voyage.

My last trip is typical. I left early enough not to rush – smelling roses along the way was easier with a distant deadline. I detoured to scout a trout stream, caught up with the wildlife refuge manager, had coffee at the café whose town’s population swells to ten when I visit. Each pepped up my ho-hum drive, planted mileposts of variety along the endless ribbon of asphalt.

A dog in the front seat, the right license plate frame or window decal spark conversations with strangers in small towns and gigantic parking lots. If you keep an open mind you come away with insights into people and places. A new camping spot, landowner with ringnecks on his property, and if you’re lucky, a brother and college friend who intersect at one of your stops.

Kevin Bacon’s six degrees of separation are whittled to a couple in the Upland Nation. That guy in the next booth has a cousin who hunted with the guy you’re going to visit. The clerk behind the counter reads your magazine column, and his brother shot sporting clays with you last year. You only know and appreciate these family ties by stopping, breathing deep and opening your mouth and your mind.

So what makes your hunting trip more than a hunting trip?

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

So, where are we?

Heading West after a couple meetings in Kansas City and stopped for some things I couldn’t live without. The question is, which Cabela’s?

Read Full Post »

Where is the Aliner parked tonight?

My guest at Warne Ranch was our “TruckVault Cares” Facebook contest winner, Bill Zeromski. It had been 25 years since he last pursued ringnecks with his late father, so you can imagine the anticipation permeating the air.

But it was also Bill’s birthday. A significant number (I’ll let him tell you how many some day) that many consider a wake-up call: do the things on your bucket list. We did our best to help.

Methodical Labradors teamed with first Buddy, then Manny, with many of the pheasants streaking for the far end of fields and CRP grasses before we could get within gun range. Some shots were taken, some birds fell, and we honored both Bill on his birthday and Bill honored his father’s memory.

We headquartered at the Best Western Ramkota hotel. It’s like a second home to me, having been a guest at least once every season for the last five. So while the Aliner rested in the parking lot, we relaxed in comfort without our wheels. But there are a lot of Ramkotas, so you’ll have to guess which parking lot is harboring my trailer.

The birthday boy, ready for a noisy flush from a wily ringneck.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: