Posts Tagged ‘Pheasant Fest’

It’s kinda like Disneyland for bird hunters. And like the breathlessness and overwhelmed-by-it-all sensory overload of that theme park, Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic (I shorthand it “P-Fest) can overwhelm attendees (and, exhibitors like me!). It’s a once-a-year opportunity to learn, earn, burn and churn, so plan ahead and consider these suggestions:

SAVE some dough: Often there are discounts on admission fees (check here) and in years past, even on Groupon. Many lodges and hunting preserves offer show discounts … as do those selling gear. Be prepared to pay cash for the best price, and if you can bring a few friends on the trip, the chance of a discount is even higher. Take the family, because kids probably get in cheaper too.

LEARN from the experts: Attend the seminars by folks you usually only read about in the magazines. Pick the brains of professionals exhibiting on the show floor. Get up close with gear you’re interested in. Booths can get crowded with many vying for the attention of exhibitors, so be assertive but polite. Simply joining an ongoing conversation is a good way to make known your interest, and ask your question.

GET OUT OF THE WAY: The aisles are like roads. If you’re stopping or slowing to get a closer look at something, move off the road. And please, please, try to keep up with “traffic” and dawdle in the booths not the aisles. Finally, like our roads, stay on the right side for best traffic flow.

BE DAZZLED: Often, the new guns that debuted last month at the private SHOT Show are making their first public appearance at P-Fest. Try them out. Same for innovative gear of all types, from dog crates to apparel.

SAMPLE THE BOUNTY: Try the tasty tidbits, drop brochures and dog food samples into your tote. Test-drive gear. Even if for just a few minutes, sit down in the back row of a seminar (speakers and audience appreciate the courtesy of not being a visual distraction in the middle of a show).

MEET & GREET: Technical experts in everything from shooting to electronic training collars are in residence and ready for your toughest questions. So are legends from the Smith cousins to culinary pro Hank Shaw.

PLAN YOUR WORK: Then, work your plan. Get the most up-to-date directory of exhibitors right at the front door of the show. Scan for your “go-to” destinations and hit them early, before the crowds surge. Hint: most people enter, then go to the right. They then slowly work from front to back of the hall. ‘Nuff said. Once you’ve hit your must-see booths and people, work the aisles methodically because you will inevitably be glad you covered it all.

MOST IMPORTANT: Dogs. Lots of dogs. A source for your next pup, rescue, or training. Uncommon breeds from Airedales (yup) to Deutsch Langhaars. Take pictures and collect business cards. And finally, bring your checkbook and upgrade or start your PF or QF membership.

Safe travels. Enjoy yourself. See you there.

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Cover What the Dogs Taught Me final finalI hope you’re headed for Minneapolis and the biggest Pheasant Fest/Quail Classic ever. If you are, please come to one of my FREE seminars, built around my new book. Here’s an appetizer from each, some of the topics we’ll cover:

What the Dogs Taught Me:

– How your dog thinks and getting inside his head

– What your dog wants out of life

– How your dog can make you a better shooter

Go West, Young Man, for Quail and other species:

– Where they live, habitat preferences

– How to find them

– Their daily routine and interrupting it with your shot string

And stop by my booth (#410) for an exclusive Quail Forever membership offer! Of get it right here, right now.

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See you there?

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Shorthair, Griffon, Clumber … a United Nations of dogdom. That was the opportunity in Omaha this weekend.

And unlike the U.N., founded with the highest hopes only to wallow in corruption and petty bickering, I found reason for optimism among the disparate dog breed aficionados displaying their canine wares for visitors to ogle, cuddle, andsavor the puppy breath.

If they can, why can't we all get along?

When it comes to our sport, we are all of one mind … I call it the Upland Nation … supporting conservation and the wildlife we love. And while there are many “critter groups” out there, including our weekend hosts Pheasants Forever, we seem to forget the one thing that binds us, bonds us, wraps us and ties us, that we can all consider common ground: dogs.

My seminars this weekend were based on a single philosophy: in dogs we trust. Many of us simply use hunting as an excuse to play with dogs. We respect our canine hunting companions as much or more than our human ones. There is unbridled affection for the long-nosed pursuers of prey with whom we share a field.

But nobody has seized on this as a uniting force. Yet.

I didn’t learn much from my (insert expletive here) father before he left for what he thought were greener pastures. But I did figure out he was a master communicator, crossing gender, societal and economic borders as if he had a diplomatic passport … no lines, no waiting, no boundaries or barriers to his ability to talk with anyone about anything. His secret? He knew enough about many things to find common ground, something of interest to his new friend or business associate. A word or two in someone’s native language.  Sports score, or musical trivia.

We already have all of that. Approach someone wearing blaze orange, ask what dog breed they love, and you’ve found a new friend. Go ahead, make a joke about “swamp collies.” Argue the merits of ditch parrots versus the noble ruffed grouse. We may not share the same political party, morals or values, likely not even the same Zip Code, but we have more in common than most folks united in common cause.

That common cause is the protection of habitat and our right to use it lawfully to find literal and figurative sustenance.

Next time you disparage retriever owners for their goofy hand signals, or spaniel guys for funny whistles, instead inventory your shared priorities. Learn. Enjoy. Transfer that warm fuzzy feeling to houndsmen. And bowhunters. Tweedy fly fishers and face-painted duck hunters.

For as Benjamin Franklin said: “Surely we must hang together or we will all hang separately.”

And what did you learn?

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W.C. Fields once said “anyone who hates kids and dogs can’t be all bad.”

He was wrong. Way, way wrong. Watch:

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