Temperature Vs. Trophy: Making The Tough Call And Letting It Go

One of the dilemmas of early season hunting is the weather can be unseasonable until things begin to stabilize later into the fall season.   So, today I ask the important question…if a trophy animal presents itself within shooting range and there is a chance the elevated temps could spoil the meat before it can get handled properly, will you let it go?

I know for many hunters this situation can present itself and be one of the most agonizing decisions a hunter will ever make.   You could have spent countless hours in the deer stand or on a difficult stalk only to let the animal see yet another day thanks to prevailing temperatures and circumstances beyond your complete control.

Let me explain.   Back in 1996 I was hunting antelope in Montana and my season was winding down.   I was in day five of a six day hunt and the heat of the open range had taken its toll on me.   More importantly, it had taken its toll on my coolers as my supply of camp ice was quickly dwindling.   Past experiences had taught me how much ice to bring, but past experiences did not have to endure the high heat as I witnessed on this trip.

My partner and I belly crawled up on some nice antelope where they were within easy shooting range.   I glanced through the herd and picked out the buck I wanted to take.

But I hesitated.   Indeed, I did not feel right about what I was about to do.

You see, I knew back in camp I did not have the ice necessary to deal with the meat I would likely harvest.   Moreover, I was on a rough section of the ranch where it was over an hour to the ranch house…and another two hours to the closest city where I could have found a processing plant with a cooler or, at the very least, more ice.

Call it improper planning if you will, but the point is a shot taken at this point would have resulted in a nice animal bagged but a beautiful animal’s meat all but wasted by the act.   I chose NOT to shoot and ended up going home empty-handed from the western hunt.

These type of tough calls are all part of hunting.   Consider the deer hunter who sees a trophy deer but at the edge of his shooting range.   Sure, it might be reasonable to take such a shot, but hunting at extreme ranges also increases the odds for an extended recovery.   If you know there’s even an increased chance for a delayed recovery and perhaps wasted meat, is it ethical to take the shot?   It’s a tough call.   It’s also a very personal call.

This scenario can play itself out many different ways.   Marginal shots while upland bird hunting when your normal canine partner is not with you to aid in the quick recovery…I think you get the picture.   The main goal of hunting should be the preservation of the meat being harvested, but it’s easy to forget during warm weather conditions how the precious time clock begins ticking quicker the moment the shot is taken.

I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on this subject.   Have you ever taken a chance you later lived to regret?   Have there been days you could have hunted, but rather chose not to for this very reason of high heat perhaps leading to spoilage?   Is it even ethical to shoot a game animal when the odds are stacked against the hunter for obtaining a wholesome meat product to take home?

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

How Will You React In The Face Of Protesting?

Back in November 2006 when I hosted then Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at my farm as part of the Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener event, part of our prep work covered what if we have protestors.   Quite frankly, protestors were avoided in the first place because the location where the hunting took place was a well-guarded secret until AFTER the deer hunt had taken place.


When protestors get in your face how will you handle the emotionally charged situation with proper tact?

But not all events can be conducted in secret.   I’ve dealt with protestors at rodeo events, circus events, heck…even the occasional protestor who proclaims their disdain for fur sales at some high-end fashion store.   The point is protesting is meant to grab the public’s attention in a striking way and then twist it for the benefit of their cause.

So, as hunters and gun owners why should any of this really concern us?   Well, our day is coming and the best outcomes generally require at least a modicum of preparation so as not to fall into their public relations trap.   It should be no surprise to you how we live in strange times and the current climate is not exactly favorable to those of us who carry guns and/or kill animals.

That being said, I want to offer up some tips on how best to deal with protestors to diminish the impact of their misguided acts.   Carefully consider these actions when confronted by any protester:

  1. AVOID PHYSICAL CONTACT of any kind.  The media is drawn to these events like moths are attracted to fire.   You don’t need your name appearing on the evening news nor does the gun owning/hunting community need a big black eye caused by aggressive actions taken against a protester.
  2. ANTICIPATE DISRUPTION.  These folks will do whatever it takes to be seen and heard.  Don’t allow it to affect your day.
  3. AVOID ANY VERBAL INTERACTION.   Remember, if they can engage you in conversation you are slowing falling into their trap.   You won’t change their minds…nor will they change yours.
  4. KEEP WALKING.  If they get in your face simply smile and walk away.   It’s tough to do…but critical you don’t linger and fuel the hostilities.
  5. KEEP EMOTIONS IN CHECK.  They are trying to get under your skin so don’t give them that satisfaction.
  6. DISREGARD THEIR ABSURDITY.   Accept in advance how their message will be full of lies and other outrageous claims trying to get you to negatively react.
  7. PROFESSIONAL PROTESTERS?   It’s possible.  These folks may not even hold these deep-seeded feelings, but are moved to be protesting because it only pays the bills.
  8. PAY THEM NO ATTENTION.  They are seeking attention so quickly move from the area, especially if you don’t have to be there.  Avoid making them the spectacle they so desperately want to become.
  9. IF MEDIA IS PRESENT, AVOID THEM TOO.  Most of us are not versed to be articulate spokesmen for our side of the cause.   If asked by media for a comment kindly decline and walk away.
  10. NOTIFY EVENT ORGANIZER OF THIS SITUATION.  If the protest is just getting underway, quickly notify the event organizer what is happening.   Most large events have a protestor reaction plan and will implement it quickly if they know what is happening.  Let the professionals defuse what could quickly turn into a highly charged incident.

There you have it.   I certainly don’t expect you to memorize all these points, but take some satisfaction in knowing most points are just plain old common sense.   By being prepared for what could happen you take away their element of surprise, as well as the emotional shock of what they are saying/doing.

In 12 days I fully expect that Las Vegas 2013 SHOT Show® attendees could potentially see this sort of protest given the current negative climate toward guns.   But, in just 8 days I will be attending my local gun show and this same protesting could easily take place there, too.   It behooves each of us to be prepared with a plan as to how we best deal with the situation.   For the sake of our cause, don’t fall victim to their tactics meant to destroy our heritage in the public’s eye.

Let’s hear your thoughts.   Have any of you encountered protestors and what was your experience?

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

Are You Ready For The Next Zombie Attack?

“I just don’t get it!”   That was a comment I remember an older gentleman saying at the January 2012 SHOT Show.   His remark was in reference to the growing number of booths that were showing some item associated with Zombie warfare.   It might have been a display showing blood…guts…and plenty of gore, or it might have been something much more innocent such as paper Zombie targets.   Whatever the case, there seems to be a Zombie revolution taking place in the shooting world.

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, Zombie shoots in the country takes place at Ahlman’s Gun Shop in rural Morristown, Minnesota.   This morning I decided to check it out.   I did not participate, rather, I watched and took video of the massive event.Photo3

So, what is a Zombie shoot you ask?   I gotta be honest…when I left the shooting range I was still scratching my head over this question.   I suppose Zombies are much more acceptable to shoot than people, but the truth is a Zombie shoot is just a good ol’ fashion excuse to get out and shoot your guns.   That’s really all it is.

In today’s event there were no scores kept.   It was just a bunch of good-natured guys and gals spending a day doing what they love—shooting.   Oh, and with that many folks toting guns safety was a top priority, but I was amazed at the quality of shooters and the respect nearly all of them showed for keeping things safe and playing by the safety rules.

Scattered throughout the gun range were plenty of bloody, nasty props just to remind everyone the true reason they were there.   And most participants had ample supplies of ammunition to feed shotguns, handguns, and the ever present modern sporting rifle.   A bevy of stages allowed shooters to get their fill of short range, as well as long range shooting.

Quite honestly I was very pleased to have made it out of there alive, considering I came unarmed just to cover this event as media.   No Zombie attacks.   Perhaps they figured that because I was not carrying any guns I did not have a brain worth seeking.   Who knows.

The scene outside Ahlman’s Gun Shop in Morristown, Minnesota. It’s a Zombie apocalypse. Proceed with caution.

The point is as silly as these Zombie shoots may seem to some within our shooting ranks, there is no denying how the Zombie craze is catching on at a feverish pace.   And that’s good.   Seriously, the person who developed this concept is a genius and should be congratulated by every gun owner.

The more people we can attract into shooting the better off our shooting heritage will be.   Not everyone owns a gun to go hunting.   Many firearm owners have them purely for self-defense or pleasure shooting.   Still, we are all brethren who must fight for our shooting rights together.

Not everyone likes to target shoot at paper with concentric circles and a bullseye.   Some folks want action, suspense and a little bit of flair which comes with going on a Zombie hunt.

That old timer I overhead at the SHOT Show in January…I’m not sure what role he plays in the shooting industry.   I suspect he could have been a dealer who was just walking the show looking for deals.   Makes me wonder.   How long will it take for a guy like that to recognize that if he quickly embraces this silly Zombie craze…well, heck…he might be able to sell a few more toys to folks who look for wacky ways to have fun?   I suspect not too long.

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.