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.

The Fine Line Between Hunting Success Or Failure Is NO EXCUSES!!

Spend any time in the typical deer hunting camp and you will hear hunters explaining away their lack of success.   Spend any time in a duck hunting camp you will also find hunters lamenting why things didn’t go as intended.   Huddle around parked vehicles during a pheasant hunt and you’ll hear countless reasons why that rooster kept wingin’ over the horizon.

Excuses…nothing but damn excuses!!!

Hunters are full of them.   In fact, some hunters are famous for always having a new one just for the appropriate occasion.   Fact of the matter is it’s our human nature to blame equipment or circumstances for our shortcomings rather than the person pulling the trigger or releasing the arrow.

Now, that’s not to say equipment can’t indeed malfunction or who would have predicted that 100–year-old tree to finally topple over just as the deer was moving into range before scaring off…but in most situations hunting excuses = joke.   They always have and they always will.


Truth is the hunter who always looks to excuses for lack of hunting success may simply be joking around and having some fun.   And certainly there’s nothing wrong with that.   Yet, there’s a faction within our hunting community where excuses become a serious crutch underscoring poor performance.   We all have bad luck on occasion, but too many hunters create their own misfortune and the excuse is a crutch highlighting it.

None of us like to admit that we didn’t spend enough time this summer on the archery range to get our bow really dialed in for optimal deer hunting performance.   Likewise, the duck hunter who never made it out for trap night at the local sportsman’s club shouldn’t expect to be flawless in those follow-thru shots on fast-moving waterfowl.  Much the same can be said for the pheasant hunter who fumbled with the gun taking it off safety messing up the timing of his shot.

Often times success in hunting means beating the odds.   The room for error isn’t that great to allow for amateur mistakes, yet still see positive results.   Sometimes a hunter can get downright lucky, but most times success is a product from lots of practice with equipment plus deploying an educated game plan knowing the animal.   In other words, hunting success is like an investment…the dividends you are allowed to take are directly related to the value a person puts into it.

It’s important for hunters who genuinely seek success to eliminate any need for excuses cropping into a conversation.   When things go wrong and failure results, the hunter who accepts personal responsibility will be miles ahead of the hunter who seemingly has an excuse ready in every pocket.

This fall it should be every hunter’s goal to minimize the use of excuses no matter how tempting they can be.   If you missed the shot, accept that a few more days at the range could have paid off in better results.   If that animal responded to your calling, but just wouldn’t present itself…accept that perhaps you’re not the expert caller you’d like to think you are and you need more practice.   If you’re not seeing action, maybe it’s time to realize how staying out late and partying isn’t a priority compared to getting up early, feeling refreshed and energized for the morning hunt.

This year, I’m calling for NO EXCUSES allowed in my hunting camps!   Let’s focus on success by capturing that inner predator spirit present inside each of us.   Besides, stories of success are a lot more fun to share.

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