Author Archives: Greg McReynolds

A public lands story

Some very talented folks have put together one of the coolest media pieces I’ve seen and it tells a compelling story about the places we hunt and fish. Go check it out here.

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 11.16.41 PM.png

4 Comments

Filed under Talegate

Stand up for public land today

Today is National Public Lands Day, a day worthy of recognition.

28 OCT 2012:  Upland Bird Hunting in  Pocatello, ID. (Joshua Duplechian)

After years of attacks on the very concept of public lands by a well-funded effort to fleece the American citizenry or our public lands heritage, the threat to the places we hunt and fish feels more concrete and close.
The attack on our public lands has intensified. Those dedicated to wresting the places we hunt and fish from the hands of hard-working Americans have moved their attacks from state legislatures to the halls of congress. They take every opportunity to run down our National Forest and BLM lands. Disparaging the management of our American public places is a tactic to buoy their transfer argument.
There is vast evidence to show that a transfer will not be good for hunting, fishing or outdoor recreation.
The threat is real and unless sportsmen stand for our public lands, we may lose them.

2 Comments

Filed under Talegate

Posers

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.

 

GM

 

 

 

 

23 Comments

Filed under Talegate

The iPhone 7 as inspiration

This afternoon I heard on the news that Apple is getting rid of the headphone jack hole on the new iPhone 7. Apparently lots of folks are upset about this but I think it’s a pretty good idea. In fact, I think there are a quite a few jack holes we could get rid of, starting with the ones in congress who are pushing to transfer (sell) the public lands where I hunt and fish.

So I say go for it Apple – dump the jack holes – just don’t stop with the iPhone.

8 Comments

Filed under Talegate

Pre-season jitters

When the pegasus flushed, I shot it without thinking.
I was pretty surprised when it folded up and went straight down. I was using my standard quail load, 3/4oz of 7.5s in a 28ga, which in hindsight didn’t seem sufficient for a giant, flying horse.
Never-the-less, there it lay, it’s wings splayed out in a patch of tall grass and dead as a doornail.
It was at that point that I got really nervous.
What will everyone think? Did I need a special tag for this? Did I have my license? Did I have a migratory bird HIP number? Did I need a migratory bird HIP number? How ridiculously high is the fine for shooting a flying mythological creature?
Pre-season dreams are weird.

GM

6 Comments

Filed under Ill-mannered Jackals, Soul

Wrong URL

MOF has a loyal fanbase (thanks mom) but we also have plenty of one-time visitors, many of who were captured here.

Since another hunting season is behind us, I thought I would do a quick recap of some of the actual search terms that brought people to MOF in 2015, answer a few questions and note some interesting factoids. What follows are actual search term and phrases that brought people to MOF via the magic of search algorithms.

Recently a gentleman (let’s go ahead and assume) found MOF after searching the phrase, “After I mowed grass there mocking bird is dancing with a little white part of wing open.”   I can offer no analysis of this phrase, but I certainly appreciate how search engines use MOF. I can just see some computer at google analyzing this phrase then determining “seems like this person is into birds and possibly bat-shit crazy, so let’s link them to MOF.”

“Renting a chukar dog in Winnemucca” – It was probably a good idea to use the Google for this one, as asking to rent a dog in Winnemucca seems almost guaranteed to get you an ass whooping.

“My pointing dog gets too for ahead” – We’ve all struggled with this and if your dog is young don’t sweat it, it will even out. If your dog is old and you’re still having this problem, it’s not the dog. It’s you. Consider some off-season cardio.

“Can I take a little jackal to my yard and hunt with it when it grows up with my dogs?” – I don’t know much about jackals, but offhand I’m going to call this a good idea. Worse case scenario, we will be happy to link to whatever catastrophic youtube video comes out of this experiment.

“Excuse me, but someone pooped in the hallway” – We’ve certainly all been there sir, but I think you were trying to contact the concierge. Just pick up the room phone and dial “0”.

“What do feathers taste like?” – Listen here you sick bastard, I told you to scram last year. Wrong site.

There was a significant amount of traffic around the search terms, “cross eyed”, “picture of crosseyed guy”, “cross eyed guys”, “cross side eyes”, etc. Whenever I see stuff people finding us with search terms like this, I say to myself, “Damn, what the hell are Tom and Bruce writing about these days? I really should read the content on MOF.” And then I wander over to the Drake or off the internet entirely before I commit to actually reading MOF.

“Good pheasant knives” – I prefer something medium sized with a wooden handle in case you have to hold it in your teeth. Pheasants are gaudy, but they’re not that great in a knife fight. Ignore the flash, stick them in the gizzard and basically any knife will work.

“Ground sluice” – I think I met this guy down in NM. He was an older gentleman hunting without a dog. His response to a rhetorical “how was it?” went something like, “Well, there are birds, but they are running and flushing wild, getting up at 50 yards and flying forever. I only got one shot.” A less rhetorical follow up question “get any?” was answered with, “Only three.”  Indeed.

“Why brain tend to forget hard learned lesson” – Judging by the grammar, I’ll go out on limb and say brain damage. Hunt chukar, fall, no talk good. Alternate scenarios, possibly from Utah or tried to rent a dog in Winnemucca.

“How to hunt chukar without a dog” – I’m suspicious that the guy who searched this phrase probably tried renting a dog, then resorted to ground sluicing.

Interesting note, many people found the blog while searching for specific towns and specific upland species. As in, “Chukar hunting near Salt Lake City.” We do all our hunting on Giffy Butte, so I’m sure those folks were disappointed.

Thanks for reading and if you found us by accident, I hope you’ll stay a awhile.

9 Comments

Filed under Talegate

Stuff they used to do

Some of you (who probably have too much time on your hands) know that I had a short-lived blog called Shotgun Chronicle. It was largely a running list of guns I couldn’t afford to buy. Eventually I simply couldn’t keep up with all the hours searching Gunbroker in an attempt to fill my imaginary gun room and I shut the blog down.

Since upland seasons are over and it’s gear season, I’m going to bring back some SC content and maybe even write a new post or two. This is the Shotgun Chronicle reboot, via MOF.

mcreynolds_g_-4This is a photo of a screw from a French-built 20ga SxS. It’s not a fancy gun, just a well-built  guild gun, trim and fast, well balanced and modestly engraved. You’ll notice it has a serial number that matches the gun’s. This is the screw that resides under the top lever and pulls the trigger plate tight to the bottom of the action from above.
It’s also engraved on the head. When was the last time a gunmaker hand cut the engraving on a screw head for a gun costing less than a small house? When was the last time someone bothered to engrave a screw that you can’t even see when the gun is closed?
All in all, this little gun has about a dozen numbered parts.
Admittedly, some of this part numbering was self-serving because every part need to be timed and mostly hand fit. Numbering ensured getting the right screws back in the right gun if you had more than one on the bench or if a gun was sent out for engraving or bluing.
Still, it’s impressive and pretty cool to think about.
It makes you feel a little connection to the small gunmaker laboring over an individual gun sometime between the wars.

1 Comment

Filed under Talegate

A MOF update

You can tell it’s a good bird year because everyone would rather hunt than write. Still, it’s been unusually quiet around here, so I thought I’d let everyone know that MOF is alive and well and give you status reports from a couple of the writers here.

  • Tom – Bought a new truck, loaded his herd of dogs in the back and threw his computer in the river. When January rolls around he’ll either be back with a ton of new MOF material or we will have to turn MOF into a fundraiser to free Tom and his pack of setters from a Mexican prison.
  • Bruce – I think he’s out hunting recovering from a bike accident, but it must be a super secret spot. I checked all his usual secret spots and didn’t see him, so I hunted them just a tiny bit…
  • Chad  – AWOL. I’ve heard that bird populations in the southwest are exceptional this year and that may have something to do with it. Chad said, “Tell everyone bird hunting sucks in Oklahoma and Kansas.”
  • Greg – Went old school and had another baby. Look for late-season MOF posts with baby in tow. The good news is, his shooting can’t get any worse if he carries a baby instead of a gun.

2 Comments

Filed under Talegate

Good news everyone…

It’s only 8 months (242 days) until October 1.

5 Comments

Filed under Talegate

Worn

The sun is dropping to the southwest as we slog 200, 500, 800 feet up. The dog ranges ahead while I put one foot in front of the other, sometimes searching for a footing, sometimes skidding and sliding, clawing at the scree and the grass.

At the top, sweating and panting, my fingernails caked with dirt, I take a drink and feel the wind instantly turn the sweat of the climb into an uncomfortable liability. I look west and see the sinking sun against the backdrop of the Snake River Canyon. I know we may find a covey of birds before sundown. Or we may not. There are no guarantees. There are no planted birds, no mowed pathways. Flat ground is a rarity and birds, when you find them, are always uphill.

GregMcReynoldsBootsOct2014 (1)

What brings me to this place is the rawness of it. The opportunity to go where I wish without the burden of “posted” signs and knocking on doors begging for permission. There is no freedom like the freedom to Go. Miles to cross, mountains to climb, spaces to camp or hunt or hike, places to push ourselves and stretch against the bounds of modern convenience, here are the last places where we are unrestricted. Truly Free.

So I find it particularly galling that a few greedy bastards want to try and take it from us. For many of us, the loss of our public lands would be akin to a prison sentence. We can’t afford to buy access and we have no desire to take up golf or play video games.

For the most part, the public lands we hold so tightly are not the verdant lowlands, those were snapped up by settlers 100 years ago. They are hard, wild places and what we do is a hard scramble. There are days where I don’t even fire my gun. This is miles of hiking, climbing and pushing to find the secret spot – the one place so difficult that no one else has hunted it. The spot where the price of admission is so steep and daunting that only we would dare to chase birds in this place. Some days my dog gets one solitary point and all I have to show for it are sore legs and worn boots. Those are good days. Out here, It is not about killing birds, it’s about earning birds. In this crowd, people rarely even say the word “limit.”

A lot of other folks don’t understand. They tell me they gave up hunting when the bird population dropped, or that there is nowhere left to hunt. And if we talk about the flat-ground fence rows that used to hold hundreds of roosters for the price of asking, they’re right. Those places are gone, tilled up or simply sold off to folks richer than us.

And that’s the beauty of what we do. There are millions of acres open to hunting. All it takes is a good pair of boots. A good old American-made leather pair with heel counters and high tops, laces and spares, toe caps and Air Bob soles. The price of admission is what you’re are willing to put in and how much are you willing to sweat, not just in October, but in April and July.

I spend three times more money on boots than I do annually on shotgun shells – because I wear boots out.

The greedy bastards who want to sell my lands – the ones who want to carve the choicest parcels for themselves while selling the bulk of it to the multinational corporations to pillage and plunder – they have not earned that right. No one who has worn out a pair of American made hunting boots thinks we should sell our public lands. No one who has climbed to the top of Giffy Butte or Nowhere Ridge looking for chukar or elk or muleys thinks we should sell off those places to a bunch of rich, foreign bastards with Land Rovers and jacked-up golf carts.

My boots are worn and cracked, but I have paid the price of admission and my heart is full. The new robber barons who are calling for the sale of our hunting lands under the guise of “states rights” have not paid the price of admission. They have never worn out a pair of hunting boots in their lives.

17 Comments

Filed under Conservation and legacy, Giving thanks, Open country, Public Land Rocks, Talegate