Here’s What I’ll Be Doing Instead Of Pheasant Hunting

This coming Saturday in Minnesota opens the 2013 pheasant hunting season.   Now, you’d think an outdoors writer might be excited about the fast-approaching season opener, right?   WRONG!   To be honest, I couldn’t care less.   In fact, pheasant hunting in my particular area of the state has become so insignificant in recent memory I won’t even be holding a gun that day.

Instead, I’m going blogging.   Yup, that’s right…I’m going to the 4th Annual Minnesota Blogger Conference to be held up in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Now, typically this conference has been held in early September so it has not impacted any fall hunting seasons, but this year when it landed squarely on the Pheasant Opener it was still an easy choice.   Go blogging!

The problem is, for pheasant hunting in my western section of Goodhue County, Minnesota, I think a person might just as well write an epitaph for the sport of pheasant hunting.   It’s not what it used to be 30 years ago and it doesn’t take a seasoned wildlife biologist to recognize it will likely never be that way again.   The heyday for pheasants in my little world is a distant memory just like my first kiss back in grade school.   It will never happen again.

And quite frankly, I am frustrated.   I used to look forward each year during my youth to pheasant season.   Over the years I raised and trained several bird dogs just for such an outdoor uplands adventure.   But no more.   Sadly enough, I’m pretty sure this picture showing the entire staff at Pheasants Forever depicts more employees than the number of pheasants in my rural township.   This year on opening morning I would bet you lunch you could criss-cross the sloughs and grasslands of my local area and find nobody out pheasant hunting on opening morning.

And yeah, I hear what you might be saying.   If you love to go pheasant hunting so much then pack up your truck and drive west.   Certainly a possibility I might concede, but not something I am inclined to do anytime soon.

You see, when growing up pheasants were a resource found everywhere around me.   There wasn’t a fall night when I couldn’t hear the birds cacklin’ as the sun inched toward the horizon.   Countless times I grabbed my gun from the closet and set out for 20 minutes of impromptu hunting along some wooded fence line on my property.

It was fun.   It was spontaneous.   And I was young and full of energy.   Today, I’m not sure I could physically muster the amount of drive needed to trek the ground necessary to see even a single bird.   It’s no longer worth it to me.   In fact, if I do see a single pheasant these days on my property I’m not even inclined to shoot it.   It’s that depressing…and growing that hopeless.

Recently a fellow outdoors writer asked about coming down to my farm pheasant hunting.   I told him to save the gas.   I also have several hunting companions who no longer spend the big bucks on top bloodlines and training for their dogs.   The pheasant population around here these days just doesn’t justify either the effort or the expense

Yeah, I am down on pheasant hunting as I once knew it.   I tip my hat still to the throngs of folks who pile into their Suburban’s and head to the Dakota’s each fall on this rooster ritual.   More power to you.   I hope the resource out there doesn’t start disappointing you any time soon.

As for me, I’ve all but given up on pheasant hunting because to me it was always an activity I could do right here in my backyard without motels, long trips and out-of-state license fees.   In fact, there’s a part of me that simply refuses to jump in a vehicle and drive countless hours to enjoy a wild resource once abundant in my own back yard.

So, when Saturday rolls around and the the clock officially signals the opening of pheasant season in Minnesota, I’ll be sitting back in a nice easy chair improving on the craft of blogging.   Oh, sure, I would rather have sore, wet feet and a game bag heavy with long-tails sticking out.   But sadly, that notion has become a distant memory of my hunting past and I now must seek my outdoor thrills thanks to other wildlife species.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Make That One Less Deer For The Fall Hunt

Each weekday morning about 7am you will find me out at the bus stop waiting with my 5–y/o kindergartner to get picked up for school.   I’m discovering it to be an interesting time standing waiting alongside a busy morning highway.   And today was certainly no exception.

The bus had departed maybe ten minutes earlier and I was still standing near the road talking with the neighbor.   The traffic was zipping by with folks in a hurry to get to their jobs for the day.   This included a fast-moving semi truck presumably hauling grain heading northbound.

For some reason my eyes just focused on this semi as it trailed off away from me when suddenly a deer darted directly in front of the semi.   The distance was maybe 200 yards from where I stood and I witnessed the semi swerve and then came a noticeable “thud.”   From even my angle it appeared this deer took it squarely in front of the truck’s grill.   The semi never even slowed down and just kept on trucking down the road.

Moments later another car oblivious to the accident sailed by and I watch as its driver attempted unsuccessfully to swerve and bounced over the debris in the road.

The neighbor and I then slowed additional traffic down to warn them as we ventured down road to discover the eventual carnage.

Deer

We quickly removed as much of the deer from the middle of the road as not to cause continued traffic problems.   Let me tell you…the site of this might have been bad but the stench was nearly overwhelming.

Indeed, this deer was crossing the road heading right onto my property when it got schmucked.   Not a pretty sight, but one I have grown accustomed to seeing along this road and in the very spot, nevertheless.

But, I’m not going to whine about one less deer for this fall.   Instead, I want to remind folks it is that time to be careful…and to train your mind NOT TO SWERVE away from a deer when driving.   I know that’s hard to do, but let’s face it a semi truck is not going to evade hitting a deer.   Some of the best drivers in performance cars cannot react that quickly (and safely).   It requires a person to just be mentally prepared and not to overreact.   Why?

Simple, on this same stretch of road maybe 1/4 mile heading in the opposite direction this happened some 35 years ago.

SLD_072

A fawn was standing in the roadway and the semi attempted to avoid it.   Not a good outcome.   The driver had gone over a million miles accident free prior to this incident.   Explain that one to your employer.

So, let this be a reminder…for safety sake do not swerve to avoid deer or you easily can lose control and cause more damage anyway.   Let this also be a reminder that deer are on the move this time of the year and it pays to be vigilant and aware of those areas they are likely to be traveling.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.