by Lynn Dee Galey
A friend who is new to upland hunting said to me, “I grew up participating in competitive sports; I didn’t think that bird hunting was going to be about competition.” He went on to give me examples of what he, as someone new to bird dogs and upland hunting, is seeing and hearing, particularly on social media hunting groups which he has turned to in his hunger to learn.
“Got it done today.”
“Had my limit in 30 minutes.”
“Got my limit but took me 2 hours.”
“I walked 10 miles and my dog ran 23 miles at 10.3 mph.”
After-hunt photos of a tailgate-sagging pile of birds, to which the replies posted are, “Nice work.”
“Shot these birds over my 16-week-old puppy.”
Photos show guys whose hunting clothes cost more than many families spend on groceries in a month, high tech dog gear that would pay for a couple months’ rent for that family, and a gun with a famous name.
Yes, the social media world of upland hunting can be shiny and fast and too often imposes the same cult of status, numbers crunching, recreation as a job performance to be evaluated, checklist marking, and materialism that plagues our society.
But each of us can get out of hunting what we most enjoy. There are many who place more value on the earthy richness of the countryside and the quiet solitude of the woods and prairies, who measure their hunts by how deeply they can breathe when outdoors, the familiar comfort of worn and patched gear, the reward of occasional warm feathers in hand, and the incomparable companionship of a veteran dog. The value of a shotgun can be in the dings and nicks that serve as touchstones for past hunts and bluing worn from the many hours and miles of carrying in hand between memorable and measured shots.
No competition, my friend, just the rewards that are the uplands themselves.