There are a lot of posers in the upland hunting community. In the interest of full disclosure, we here at MOF are old, mean (especially when we’ve been drinking) and skeptical of everything and everyone. In other words, we assume basically everyone is a poser.
If you say you like to hunt upland birds, my line of questioning goes something like;
You have a dog? (Answer “no” and you’re out.)
What kind? (Answer anything that includes “doodle” or requires an explanation and you’re out.)
Other grounds for dismissal include; using the word “Bra” or “Bro”, wearing a flat-brim baseball cap, party hunting, using a “loader,” having someone else handle your dog, being a dill weed, walking slow, over using your whistle, wearing neon laces on boots, fanny packs, hats with propellers, riding in a jacked up 4-wheel-drive following someone else’s pointers, coiffed beards, taking selfies in the field or wearing purple.
There’s a reason I tend to hunt alone.
Posers litter the upland landscape. Just take a gander at nearly any upland product marketing material and you will almost certainly see a bearded hipster dressed like he’s headed for Sunday afternoon cocktails pointing a shotgun at a limp-tailed pheasant flying directly at the camera. I want to shout “Don’t shoot the photographer,” then I realize it’s likely the photographer who has set up the shot and put himself in harm’s way. Of course, it’s unlikely he’ll be shot by the hipster, but there is a pretty good chance he’ll be kamikaze-ed by the pen-raised bird careening toward him.
And that’s the thing. Upland marketing seems to center around pheasants even though a passel of enthusiastic upland hunters are not chasing pen-reared pheasants. Instead, they choose to hunt wild birds, often on public land. They are hunting ruffed grouse in the Carolina’s or the UP, chasing chukar in Nevada or desert quail in Texas or Arizona. They hunt sharptail grouse in the northern plains of Montana or sage grouse in the sage brush sea of Wyoming. They chase blue grouse on high ridges of Colorado or Utah. They might even scratch down an old rooster every once in a while in a few of those places. Some of them hunt pheasants in the Dakotas or Kansas, but the ones who hunt passionately are usually hunting wild birds, often on publicly accessible tracts.
Follow dogs across enough forest and prairie and you learn to notice things. Hunters can tell by the wag of their spaniel’s tail or the way a setter carries herself when birds are close. They learn to veer towards a falcon holding high above the cholla or to walk out of their way to swing past an abandoned farm implement. They notice how a pheasant will run like hell in short grass but hold up before he crosses a low spot or how huns will flush in a circle and after a few flushes, eventually lead you back where you found them. Upland hunting is a pursuit of subtleties and when you’ve see enough flushes, you know a setup when you see one.
Sadly, many of the companies selling guns and boots and vests are pretty far removed from the realities of upland hunting. There are some exceptions like Wingworks and Russell and Quilomene and Kenetrek and Gundog Supply. Big companies who understand upland hunting are rare, but one that stands out in a good way is Orvis, whose catalogues often feature the birds and places people actually hunt. I think that’s mostly because their CEO, Perk Perkins, and their Vice Chairman, Dave Perkins, are serious outdoorsmen and upland hunters. And damn good fly fishermen as well. And while I’m not typically prone to endorsements, Orvis gives 5 percent of company profits to conservation and I think that’s a pretty big deal.
Orvis recently posted this video about upland hunting. It’s a pretty accurate assessment of what most of us at MOF do and how we feel about upland hunting.
Perk, Dave, if you’re reading, you’re in.
27 thoughts on “Posers”
Yep. Wild birds, wild birds, wild birds. Can’t say those words enough, although I can’t believe I got shut out of the clubhouse because of my dang propeller hat. It’s a family heirloom.
I’m an ardent supporter of pheasant hunting and bass fishing cuz it keeps lots of folks off wild birds and trout streams.
I kind of like it this way. But I am pro fanny pack.
Can’t wait to photograph that Fanny Pack in the field this season, Larry, love how the color pops for the picture.
You coming down with Jordan Moriarty (a nickname he doesn’t know about yet) for the NV chukar? I will bring my finest fannies. Maybe even that sweet new vest.
Hey, I love my propeller hat. I just reserve it for fishing…
I find it gets tangled in my leader, I use it for turkeys though.
Excellent essay. I do walk more slowly these days, but not by choice. Hope you have a great bird season ahead.
Thanks Jerry, here’s to a good season for us all
I’ve bird hunted with Dave P.; he is the real deal in the grouse woods, for sure.
Although I’ve looked longingly at their products from time to time not everyone is independently wealthy enough to pay $250 for an imported field jacket.
yourcousin, I assure you no one on this site is independently wealthy. I tend to focus my expenditures on the essentials, boots being the number one priority.
Tread lightly on posers – some like me still are.
Do I have a dog? No. I have kids from college to elementary school.
Do I want a dog – oh God yes but realistically it will be a few years.
Have I hunted wild birds? Unless it’s turkey in the woods outside my property, no – that would mean dedicating at least 2 days and a few hundred dollars that isn’t the right choice for us.
I share the upland passion for many of the stated reasons – solitude, beauty, challenge. But there are those of us who did not get the tradition passed down. I am a neophyte on a long journey and working to create my own tradition with my kids.
So when you see me with my discount gun dressed like a poser because upland marketing targets at us, remember you can choose to encourage the passion of hunting or give the response I have encountered more often than I care to admit.
Homer, I jest, I jest. Enjoy yourself and welcome to the blog.
Judgement always feels more comfortable when you’re the one wearing it. Even though I agree with the judgement.
Rookiebird, are you judging my judgemental tendencies? Also, last time I hunted with you I believe you wore a cape and an executioner’s mask. Did I make a big deal out of it? Of course not. Now if you had been wearing a propeller hat…
Thanks for a laugh, Greg.
I know some AZ quail hunters who don’t own bird dogs and I wouldn’t advise calling them posers – damn near everything in the desert wants to kill or maim your pup.
And maybe I walk slow but I’m old dammit and so’s my dog.
Thanks for not mentioning Nebraska. The wind would cause the propeller hats to launch and there aren’t any birds. Believe it. Great post.
I hunt wild birds on public lands because few landowners will let me hunt on their land. Maybe if they saw me shoot they wouldnt feel their birds were threatened. Actually I treasure our public lands more every year because they are the great leveler of those who own their own private pieces and the rest of us. Upland bird hunters should demand public lands be well managed and not just fodder for more livestock.
Trying to decide if the essay or the comments were better! All good!
Since the subject of your rant is Posers, surely http://www.uplandjournal.com must of been on your mind. It’s the web’s safe haven for upland bird hunting pretenders, want to be’s and online experts!
Relatively new to upland hunting, lifelong waterfowler. Wish I had more upland opportunities to me, but from what I’ve found, we don’t have much in eastern VA besides maybe woodcock. Forced to hunt preserves until I can make a pilgrimage out west.