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Wild West? We just lived it! Lynn Burdick and her sons Zach and Nick joined us as winners of the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s “Take Your Kid Hunting” sweepstakes, and what an adventure it was. Weather, horses, wagons, chukars, pheasants, Huns, lots of noise and a bucket-list experience for all.

Ruggs Ranch was the destination and we took full advantage of their 86,000 acres. Cropland, river bottoms, high country prairie, dramatic rocky canyons … all harbored birds to challenge the hard-working Ruggs dogs. Here’s a taste of the first day, which started at the Filson store in Portland where the Burdicks were ably outfitted by manager Nathan Gray. Don’t they look sporty in their Filson gear? Stay tuned – more to come!

Our first stop enroute: Historic Balch Hotel, Dufur, Oregon.

Zach, Lynn & Nick, ready to rock

Our first hunt was from a wagon, along the Rock Creek Canyon. Pheasants were the quarry.

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Yeeha! Shot from horse camp last time I was at Ruggs.

The crew and our winners the Burdick family head for Ruggs Ranch Tuesday to make the next episode of the show. Lots of fun along the way, then sporting clays, horseback hunting for chukars and huns, a driven shoot, and finishing the adventure off with pheasants. Western hunting at its best!

What? You haven’t entered the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s  “Take Your Kid Hunting” contest? Next year, we will thaw out in Florida at Quail Creek Plantation. Lots of other prizes, too, so enter today!

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What shotgun brand leads in sales? Has your access to hunting land been curtailed? How dos this impact our industry, conservation, and the future of the sport?

Knowledge is power. Here’s a little for you to think about. Thanks to our major sponsor the National Shooting Sports Foundation, we have some of the answers. Take a look: 0511Survey_Tracker

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Welcome behind the scenes again. As I’ve noted before, making a television show is not all beer and skittles. You don’t simply show up, go hunting, then send the tape to a network. There are a lot of steps between booking a hunting trip and lounging on the couch in your skivvies watching the show on TV.

One of the most onerous tasks we face is reviewing all the raw footage, culling the bad from the good and ultimately interpreting it for you. While I love every part of a hunt and so do you when you’re in the field, viewers would reach for the remote after more than a few seconds of us walking through a field watching dogs on a fruitless search for absent birds. (more…)

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A screen shot you'll likely see on the air this season

A screen grab from HD footage you'll likely see on the air this season

Sure, there’s the glamour of airline food, missed connections, lost (expensive, camera) luggage and ever-present doggie breath on the set. Don’t forget the surly airline personnel, rain, cold, gale-force wind, and a spate of bad shooting.  Just kidding!

I’m going over all the raw footage from last year’s hunts, the first step in lining out episodes and writing the voiceover for the new show. And boy, how it can drag when you’re not actually out there doing it. But that’s why we get the “big bucks” (hah!), because we take all those ingredients, add a little seasoning, stir, simmer, and create entertaining, educational, informational, motivational wingshooting programs.

Most of you know it takes hours of hunting to get minutes of good television, and I’m being reminded of it – big time – right now. We don’t have a real one anymore, but there is a big digital “cutting room floor” here, fast becoming cluttered with reject footage. But there’s also the flip side: reliving good times with friends new and old, great dogs, beautiful places, and some adrenaline rushes that ought to be bottled and sold in dark alleys for big dollars.

What’s on the screen now:A South Dakota grasslands hunt with shorthairs, coping with high winds and running ringnecks. If you’ve been there and done that, you know how tough it’s going to be to make a show out of dark skies, sketchy points and wild-flying birds. There is hope, though, as later in the day we salvage it with a new strategy (more later) and additional personnel including South Dakota’s governor and my friend, Mike Rounds.

On a positive commercial note, two new sponsors will help bring you the show, TriTronics (the collar guys) and ESP (hearing protection). It may sound trite, but it’s also true. Without sponsors nobody would be on the air, so get off your high horse if you’ve mounted up and are looking down your nose at the rest of us. I’m grateful to these folks as well as the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Native performance dog food, Black’s directories and artist Ross Young. So, spend some money with them when you have a need!

End of commercial. It’s back to raw footage … as duty calls!

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