Our First Western Tour: Preparations

As a carefree, young, healthy college student, the first round of stay-at-home orders issued during the COVID-19 pandemic meant fewer responsibilities and less work. No longer shackled to the office cubicles where we normally carried out the duties of wildlife research assistants, my roommates and I rejoiced in the freedom, its unexpected rush into our little world. A leisurely “15 days to flatten the curve” sounded ideal. The added flexibility in our schedules meant plenty of time to catch up on sleep and binge-watch the latest Netflix series.

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The Planning Season

A few years back, a friend jokingly prodded me about the obsessive nature of my love for upland bird hunting. Because “hunting season only lasts 6 months” he said I would “be deprived of happiness during the off-season”, half of my life. It is true that nothing brings greater joy to my life than watching my dogs do what they were born and bred to do. A motionless point, contrasting our fast-paced world, immersed within the beauty of some forgotten western landscape, like a piece of framed artwork, is an irrefutable breathtaking scene. In my opinion, the experiences collected during the hunting season are worth a few months of insipid living.

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Trophies and Why We Hunt

Everyone has their own reasons why they hunt. A person’s decision to go afield is a very personal one and if you surveyed 100 hunters on why they hunt, you’d get at least 120 answers. But we try to put ourselves into neat little boxes at the expense of others. Read any post about hunting in Africa and the “I’m a hunter but” comments won’t take long to find. Big game hunting with dogs is another huge divider amongst us and the anti-hunters know it. Just look at the most recent bills around the country trying to ban predator hunting and the use of dogs.

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Harvesting Nature Magazine is Live!

inaugural issue of our electronic and print-on-demand magazine! We want to celebrate spring with delicious wild recipes and awesome adventure stories. This issue covers bird hunting, fly fishing, American shad, pheasant pasta, Florida turkey hunting, spring bear basics, foraging tips, and so much more!

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Opening Day on the Prairie

After a fairly productive morning of hunting northern bobwhites somewhere in central Kansas, the dogs and I returned to my pickup truck to rest for a while. It was still early in the day and I could already tell it was going to be an unseasonably warm day for November. I stripped off a few layers and put away my shotgun as the dogs enjoyed a well-deserved dip in a water trough. All three dogs, Ranger, Ruby, and Pearl had exceeded my expectations on their first hunt together. Each one did their fair share of pointing, backing, and retrieving. I wish I could say this quality had persisted for the duration of the season.

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One at a Time

Every year, I do my best to take an extended bird hunting road trip through a few western states. I enjoy exploring new places and hunting the birds that inhabit them. Besides, as the English poet William Cowper said, “(v)ariety’s the very spice of life”. And, in my opinion, being exposed to a broad array of conditions make the dogs and me better hunters. This December the first leg of the trip took us to the southwestern corner of Oregon in search of mountain quail (Oreortyx pictus), the largest species of quail in the United States and the only one I had not had the opportunity to hunt.

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The Quest for Columbia River Chukar

I knelt on the edge of the precipice with my knee dug into a sandy spot beneath a massive aromatic sagebrush while Finn ravenously lapped water from a small, green collapsible bowl. Behind and below us, the Columbia River wound lazily between lush, orderly, emerald orchards, rock faces, and scree slopes – a peaceful and extravagant scene. My friend Chas stood slightly downhill to my left with his upland vest in hand, packing away a massive wild chukar that he had come to harvest with a combination of Finn’s good work and a peck on the cheek from Lady Luck.

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