Thursday, February 2, 2012

Last Weekend at the Range

It’s great working at an advertising agency where almost everyone is interested in shooting or hunting in one way or another. Last weekend, I went out shooting with John, one of the guys from our art department.

We shot a Lewis Machine and Tool CQB MRPTM Defender Piston Model 16 5.56mm. We were shooting with open sights at fifty yards. I’m really kicking myself for not taking pictures of the targets when we were through because I thought we shot some pretty tight groups for a couple of desk jockeys!

Here are a few pictures from a cold and rainy morning at the range. As you can clearly see, we are company men who proudly shot nothing but Winchester ammunition the entire time we were out there. J

Monday, January 30, 2012

R&R - After All The Trade Shows

January is a big, chaotic month in our industry. With the ATA, SHOT, SCI and the distributor shows, I am on the road for the better part of the month. By the end of January, I am in serious need of recharging my batteries. One thing I look forward to is my annual “de-briefing” duck hunt.

I love living in the pacific flyway, not to mention, living 15 minutes away from a prime waterfowl hunting honey-hole. Sunday was the last day of the season. I met up with the usual suspects before sunup. We motored out to a modest blind and set up for the day. In the distance, you could hear the birds start to stir. About 10 minutes from shooting light, I could hear the teals starting to whiz by.

I was excited for the day’s potential, but more importantly, I felt myself relaxing from the month-long trade show tour. My heart would race as we called in birds. At this point, these birds have seen decoy spreads, heard every call in the book and shot at all season. Many circled high, leery to come in.

When birds finally committed, we let them have it. A friend, Randy Hynes, describes it best:

“The whistling of wings at the first light, the landing gear down when they come into sight. The smell of the powder and getting your limit, you wouldn't understand...unless you just did it.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A PR Rookie's Perspective on SHOT Show

Well, I’m just now starting to get back into my normal routine after my first SHOT Show. In other words, the energy drinks have finally worn off and my feet don’t hurt anymore. Overall, the show was bigger, more crowded, and infinitely more exhausting than I could have ever imagined.

I split most of my time between Winchester Ammunition and Nikon Sport Optics. I helped send out press releases, facilitate media tours and keep press materials stocked in the booths. It was an awesome experience working with such respected companies and I was so immersed, I think I fell asleep each night still mumbling about M-223 Riflescopes and Blind Side Ammunition.

It became a routine for me each morning to get ready and then go straight to the press room to fill up on some of that strong coffee (an ample amount of caffeine was necessary before going to actual show).

The show floor was crazy. Once, while attempting to systematically walk the entire lower level, I walked by the same booth three times.

Never in my life have I met and been introduced to more people in a short time frame. The overwhelming friendliness of everyone I met is a testament to the shooting industry. I had communicated with some people via email already and as they say, this was just a great opportunity to “put a face to the name.”

Media Day at the range is a perfect way to start off SHOT. Nothing puts one in the mood to look at shooting products more than SHOOTING!!! I spent the entire time in the Winchester bay, mostly talking to writers and refilling magazines. After the media had finished up, I stepped in and fired my share of Winchester PDX1.

The evenings in Vegas were a great time. I particularly enjoyed getting to know my co-workers better. On Tuesday night, I was fortunate enough to go out to dinner with the Chevalier creative team – a collection of some of the best graphic artists in the business. Although we work in the same office, I really haven’t gotten to know them all that well until now and it was a lot of fun to hang out. Aside from that, I attended the award ceremonies on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday night I watched an Aaron Lewis concert from backstage. Unbelievable!

The funniest moment at SHOT was seeing my colleague, Michael Turbyfill, vacuum the Winchester Booth one evening after the show. We truly are a full-service agency!

The only thing that perhaps should have stayed in Vegas is the new nickname I seem to hear floating around behind my back lately….RED BULL.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Everybody Loves a Happy Ending

My friend, Ed, and I were miserable, disappointed, frustrated and sick at our stomachs on the night of Nov. 13. Shortly before dark, both of us arrowed magnificent, Pope and Young-class bucks on Ed’s small, 45-acre farm in Knox County, Ill. And both of us, no matter our excuses, made horrible shots.

Luckily, my wounded deer headed through the woods toward Ed’s tree stand location after my poor shot. From his stand, Ed watched him walk across a cut cornfield onto the neighboring property – giving us a 500-yard headstart on the tracking job – a small miracle if you ask me. Minutes later, Ed also made a poor hit on a bruising, wide-horned six pointer he hoped would qualify for the record book.

After dark, we headed to back to camp to recount the stories and seek advice from Ed’s dad, Dave, who is the most seasoned and experienced archer I’ve ever met. Dave has harvested big game all over the world with his recurve bow and has truly forgotten more about archery than most of us will ever know.

On Dave’s advice, we decided to begin tracking the wounded bucks the next morning at 10 a.m. Needless to say, I got a miserable night’s sleep.

Ed had another buck tag and with the rut being in full swing, decided to hunt again before we tracked the bucks from the night before. At 7:30 a.m., Ed shot another big Illinois buck – 400 yards from where he shot the big six-pointer the night before! This time, Ed made a great shot and the big, tall-racked buck went a short distance and expired.

The stars continued to align, as against the odds (and my gut feeling), we were able to also recover both bucks from the night before. The end result was three bucks that each qualify for the Pope and Young record book, harvested in a span of 15 hours, on Ed’s 45-acre hot spot. It was an incredible rollercoaster ride for those few hours and I’m so blessed, lucky and thankful for the happy ending. Enjoy the photos!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Deer Hunting in Minnesota

Last weekend I left the warmth and comfort of the Chevalier PR office and flew home to Minnesota for a four-day deer hunt. I hadn’t been home for ten months and the opportunity to visit the family farm was a welcomed one.

On opening morning, I snuck down to my stand (which we call “The Hotdog Stand” because of its shape) with high hopes. Because the leaves on the ground were wet, I made it to stand about as quietly as it is possible. As morning light made its presence known, so did a six-point buck about 25 yards away from me. It came out of the woods to my right, alert and head held high. It stepped out into the corn field and began eating. This buck was not in full rut. I pulled my gun up and eyed him through the scope. It was a small six-point "hat rack" buck. I had to make a choice because he wouldn’t be in front of me for long. I thought about how much more time I had to hunt, about how many small bucks like this one I’ve shot in the past, about how many bigger bucks are probably in proximity to my stand….and he was gone. About an hour later, I saw a fork-horned buck approximately 200 yards away. This took less deliberation to let go.

Weather: The first two days of hunting were plagued by 30 mph winds coming from the South. I think it was because of this that the deer weren’t really moving. The wind certainly made the stand sessions seem longer than they were. Monday afternoon, the wind stopped. While on stand that evening, there was no sound. There were no deer either. Tuesday morning displayed an impressive frost but the temperature and wind during the day were ideal.

My dad is a hunter (in it for the food) and I suspect that my failure to down that buck opening morning raised concerns in his mind that his son has become a sportsman (in it for the trophies). On Sunday morning, my dad was sneaking around in our pasture and spotted two fawns on a knob quite a distance away. He worked his way closer, then crawled on his hands and knees to get close enough for a shot. Instead of shooting one of the fawns, he called out on his deer grunt. A small six-pointer immediately came out of the woods behind the fawns. My dad dropped it where it stood.

For me, the most treasured aspect of the hunt was doing small drives with my dad and my uncle on Monday and Tuesday afternoon. My dad always does everything in his power to put me in a position to kill a deer. We’ve done little drives together since I was just starting out and he is usually able to chase me a deer. For this hunt, I thought it was kind of neat that my dad, my uncle and I were doing drives together. We didn’t see one deer while doing them but in this case, the act is more important than the outcome.

Tuesday evening was my last change to get a deer. Before going out on stand that night, I pledged to my dad and my uncle that I would shoot any deer that stepped out in front of me. They were in agreement. Instead of going out on my stand, which I’d hunted religiously all season, I chose a different stand for a change of scenery. Within 45 minutes of being on stand, I had a tiny fawn on the field in front of me. He walked around the field, eating, for well over an hour. Eyeing him closely the entire time, he refused to grow any bigger. I let him be.

All total, here’s what I saw for wildlife during the hunt: 32 wild turkeys, 3 ruffed grouse, 1 red fox, 2 bucks and at least six or seven fawns.

In summation, I probably should have shot the six-pointer I saw on opening morning. Hopefully I see him next year as an eight or a ten-pointer. That said, deer hunting to me is more than just shooting a deer. It’s a time to be with family and enjoy the land I grew up on. It’s also a time I use to reflect on where I’ve been, amuse at where I am, and wonder where I’m going. These thoughts pile on top of one another until ultimately, I reach one of man’s most satisfying realizations: life is good!