Posts Tagged ‘Pheasants Forever’

Okay, okay, I get it. Willy-nilly broadcasting of a bird-hunting honey hole is verboten. A few personal stories from podcast callers have convinced me there is a slight chance of finding a place trashed, over-run, shot-out … well, you get the idea.

Want to listen to the podcast? Go here.

I also understand how hard it must be to share a spot you found “on your own.” But how else is someone going to see early success if nobody will help them? Maybe not your best place. Maybe not everyone. But sometimes, some people, some areas. If we don’t help others become hunters, we are doomed. Purchases of guns, ammo, licenses, and Pheasant Forever dues are what fuel conservation. No hunters, no purchases, no conservation. Period. End of sentence.

Facts are facts: the biggest reason people quit hunting is they can’t find someplace to hunt.

Think about your own introduction to hunting: did you really, truly, accomplish every single bit of it on your own? Nobody helped you, ever? A parent? Sibling? Scoutmaster or neighbor? If you can truthfully claim to never having any help finding hunting spots, more power to you. At the rate we’re going as a hunting community, some day, you’ll be the last guy there. Don’t forget to turn off the lights and lock the gate. And keep your expectations low, because nobody will have managed the cover or the game birds as it declined.

How about a new set of rules – thanks podcast callers – that you can use and adapt to your own situation … while still recruiting and encouraging newcomers? Some suggestions:

– If you’re being shown a place, ask if you can share it before you go. If you’re showing someone that spot, be clear as to your expectations before you take them.

– Stay off the Internet (or online forums, Instagram, etc.) with your location-specific information. Watch those photos and identifying tags.

– Vet your “guests” carefully. If you know them well, trust them, and they are safe and ethical, they will probably keep the spot close to their vest. Go with them if you are doubtful as to their trustworthiness.

– Are you the “guest?” Ask if you can go back, and if you can bring others.

– A quid pro quo is okay, and may be a good way to see how sincere your “candidate” is about sharing and caring for the land.

– Have a few “giveaway” spots (with some likelihood of success) for those you’d like to encourage but don’t know well. See how they handle the opportunity; maybe they’ll become a hunting buddy.

– Been the beneficiary of a hunting-spot tip? Go back once, maybe twice, and limit your take. Then, invite the benefactor to hunt one of your spots.

– Encourage newcomers by teaching them to find their own spots. Acquaint them with the resources, agencies, programs (WIHA, for example). Show them – in the field, if you can, what good habitat looks like.

– There are plenty of ways to get people out there without giving a latitude/longitude. A county, highway,

– Don’t call those who share “idiots.” How does that create a better habitat? Or encourage people to hunt?

– In most cases, it’s not “your” spot, nor are they “your” birds. If what you’re really bitching about is others who hunt where you do, you’re just selfish.

– Newcomer? Yeah, do your own homework. Then, pay it forward.

It’s a start. I’ve seen the light. Any more “rules” you’d suggest? Make a comment!


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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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I once took a music lesson from cello legend Pablo Casals. I asked when he evolved from “student” to “teacher.” He spoke slowly and deliberately in his heavily accented English: “I’ve never stopped being a student of the cello.”

And we shouldn’t either.

One of the best reasons to attend events like Pheasant Fest is the seminars. Watching experts, absorbing their expertise, finally “getting it” is worth the price of admission. And that’s before the exhibits, friends new and old, and generally positive vibe you get hanging out in a room with 22,000 people who love what you love.

Long ago I decided that even one nugget, a scintilla of useful information made sitting for an hour worthwhile. But Ronnie Smith’s overview of dog training and behavior was a headful of invaluable insights. I vow to use his techniques and tools this spring and summer to prepare Manny for a Utility Test.

Sometimes, it’s brand-new information that re-sets your preconceived notions. Other times, it is as simple as a crystal-clear interpretation of a muddy word that unlocks a cascade of training revelations.

The desired end result

In Ronnie’s case, it was using the half-hitch on a dog’s flank to reinforce “whoa.” His rationale (and method) for stopping dogs via flank-based commands resonated in the room of avid dog owners and hunters, many vexed by the lack of success with collar-based direction-correction (including me).

I’ve already ordered the DVD. As we take our baby steps down the path toward Utility Test, I’ll keep you posted.

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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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