FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2023

Team Berger’s John Mullins won the 2023 Arizona High Power Silhouette State Championship by taking first place in both Standard Rifle and Hunter Rifle divisions, March 11-12th.
Randy Luth, a seasoned 3-gun competitor, emerged victorious in the Super Senior Open Division at the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun Championship. The event, held at the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club in Mesa, Arizona, featured some of the top 3-gun shooters from around the country.
Six Colorado men have pleaded guilty to taking fish by an illegal method, stemming from an incident along the Manistee River in October. Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers caught the group illegally fishing following a tip from a concerned angler.
Kimber Mfg. announced that it will be sponsoring the Arizona Game & Fish Outdoor Expo as a Silver Sponsor and will have premium Kimber handguns, revolvers, and rifles available for consumers to shoot while at the event.
Individuals and families of all ages are invited to stop by the Safe LivinG trailer on Saturday, March 25 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, March 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bass Pro Shop in Oklahoma City to expand upon their safety skills and experience.

Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc., will be attending Palmetto State Armory’s “The Gathering” at The Clinton House Plantation in Clinton, South Carolina from March 24 – 25, 2023.
The 2023 Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s National Walleye Tour presented by Progressive season opener saw river rat James “J.J.” Debernardi coax a massive 8- pounder on his first cast. With only two additional keepers, that divine kicker was enough to lift Debernardi into the winner’s circle.
Among the total 55 anglers competing for $300,000 are six Mossy Oak Fishing anglers: Brandon Lester, Drew Benton, Gerald Swindle, Brandon Cobb, Greg Hackney, and newest team member, Lee Livesay.
Spring gobbler season is firing up, and CZ is making sure hunters are well-gunned as they hit the turkey woods. Two hard-hitting 12-gauge shotgun options will allow hunters to carry more longbeards over their shoulders.

Victory Archery announced that the company has renewed its partnership with competitive shooter Remington Boyer. The professional archer and bowhunter depends on The Carbon Arrow Experts for reliable performance in competition and in the field.
The addition of PMC will help Camfour expand their vendor lines and product selection of ammunition lines for their customer base.
If hemlock trees on your property show signs of hemlock woolly adelgid infestation, now is a good time to plan for spring treatment of this invasive species. Hemlock woolly adelgid, native to Asia, is known to be present in areas of Allegan, Benzie, Mason, Muskegon, Oceana and Ottawa counties in Michigan.
The MDT Training Shot Timer is a versatile shot timer that features adjustable sensitivity, allowing it to be used with a wide variety of firearms and calibers as well as dry fire practice and suppressors. The device saves all of your shooting data and pairs with an accompanying app, which enables users to record video with live stats and share them on social media.

The Boone and Crockett Club presented the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation with its most prestigious award for conservation partners. The Conservation Stewardship Award is given annually to the organization or entity that best exemplifies excellence in natural resource conservation and stewardship — core values of the Boone and Crockett Club and its founder, Theodore Roosevelt.
On March 21, Rep. Will Carpenter introduced a resolution commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the National Wild Turkey Federation to the Kansas House of Representatives.
The Native American Fish & Wildlife Society is now partnered with the International Hunter Education Association allowing Native American tribes to become certified to teach Hunter Education.
Attorneys representing the Second Amendment Foundation and its partners in their federal challenge of an Illinois ban on so-called “assault weapons” and “large capacity magazines” have filed a reply brief to the defendants’ effort to defend the ban.

This week, Outdoors Radio features retired Wisconsin DNR wildlife technician Jeff Wilson and his wife Terry Daulton, Milwaukee Lake Michigan Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries chairman John Klett, and pro angler Duffy Kopf.
Several Georgia State Park and Historic Site employees were honored recently during a Rangers Conference held at Unicoi State Park. Around 140 assistant managers, interpretive rangers, administrative staff and maintenance rangers participated in training activities, team building and sharing ideas.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) and conduct public scoping on a proposed action to develop a new wolf management plan.
The boat ramps at Riverview Marina State Recreation Area in Nebraska City and Brownville Riverside Park are reopened after several improvements were completed.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is accepting applications from landowners who are interested in participating in the 2023 Block Management Program. Block Management is a cooperative effort between landowners and FWP to help manage wildlife and public hunting activities on enrolled lands.
To help guide future planning for William C. Sterling State Park in Monroe County, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is asking for public input on a new general management plan for the park.
Big personalities are chasing big fish every Saturday morning on Outdoor Channel beginning at 9 a.m. ET. If the water isn’t quite ready to drop a line in, stay indoors and tune in to watch experts on Saltwater Saturdays.
Canadian-produced show SG Adventures is set to thrill Wild TV’s fans beginning in the spring of this year. The show, produced by Stomping Ground, will feature 10 original episodes on Wild TV’s channel and will stream on Wild TV Plus.

Big personalities are chasing big fish every Saturday morning on Outdoor Channel beginning at 9 a.m. ET. If the water isn’t quite ready to drop a line in, stay indoors and tune in to watch experts on Saltwater Saturdays.
Spring is a particularly important season for boaters to go slow and lookout below for manatees as the slow-moving mammals naturally disperse from their winter refuges, traveling to other parts of the state and beyond.

For that instant when the dogs lock up, just before birds flush, time stands still.

Aching joints relax, tired muscles tense, vision narrows. Lesser essential senses diminish.

It’s that too-brief time when age doesn’t matter.

Thought and action boil down to a simple mantra: Breathe. Swing. Squeeze.

If done correctly, instant gratification comes in a puff of feathers followed by the rush of retrievers. That’s followed by a lasting satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve accomplished something other hunters have attempted since time began: putting food on the table.

I don’t hunt much anymore. Sitting up in a stand or in a blind, hoping something wanders by doesn’t motivate much unless I have a camera at hand.

But wingshooting, that’s something else.

Just before the flush of the birds, dogs and hunters focus on likely hiding spots from which birds are likely to explode.

This week, I’ve been in Kansas, enjoying an invitation extended by Chris Hodgdon. It was accepted three years ago and much anticipated. It would be “the trip” for the year. But “the trip” got delayed - twice.

Fits and starts of life prevented my being in the windswept fields of Flint Oak outside Fall River, Kansas until this week. But it was a promise made to a friend -and myself -that I absolutely had to keep.

Standing in a damp, windy field watching hunting dogs cast about for hunkered down birds, I remembered why. This particular type of hunting still stirs me.

Wingshooting wasn’t part of my childhood. Had it had been, I might never have left the fields of the family farm to see places I dreamed about as a child. Those Kentucky fields - with pheasants, chukar or quail in them - might have been enough.

That’s how appealing wingshooting is to me.

In my youth, shotguns and birds had nothing to do with each other.

My shotgun was an “experienced” single-shot .410. And I wasn’t a great hunter or shooter with it. But powered by youthful exuberance, my well-worn .410 and I brought home more than one family dinner of squirrel or rabbit.

Walking across the fields at Flint Oak, I frequently recalled those days while quietly regretting the decades that passed between then and now when I didn’t hunt, fish or camp.

Watching the dogs search for pheasant, quail or chukar, I joked with my friends while simultaneously recalling the braying beagles of my youth as my dad, my Uncle Ollie and I hunted rabbits.

In those days, we were about as likely to “jump up” a dragon as a pheasant or chukar. Kentucky - in my youth - had been without game birds for decades. No elk herds wandered eastern Kentucky, either. A verifiable deer sighting or a decent shed antler made the local news column of the Lebanon Enterprise.

Not here. Kansas is blessed with game -and sportsmen and women who not only pursue them, but make a living welcoming others to enjoy their experiences.

Flint Oak is one of best of those places. It’s a haul from Kansas City, but worth the trip.

The three-hour (plus) drive to Flint Oak allowed sufficient time for the work I hadn’t finished to fade from memory as anticipation built. Along the way, I realized how much I needed my too-infrequent breaks.

The first sign that Flint Oak is just what my proverbial doctor ordered was the view out “my” window. The sporting clays course isn’t easy, but it’s great preparation for the kind of shots that would be needed in very breezy conditions.

Crossing the wind-swept fields it didn’t take much imagination to see where progressive rocker Kerry Livgren of Kansas’ found the inspiration for “Dust in the Wind” in October of 1977. The breezes gusted across the fields, raising swirling clouds of dirt that reminded me as it had Livgren, that in the scheme of things “all we are is dust in the wind.”

That was fine with me. I was content to take part of a scene that has played out many times before: hunters and dogs chasing game, each playing their part in that “circle of life.”

Honestly, my “chasing game” is an exaggeration. These days, my steps are more measured; my pace is reduced.

But the pleasure in each of those steps is heightened. The experience has become more valuable than the harvest.

Today, seeing a fellow shooter make a great shot on a fast-moving pheasant is almost as rewarding as making the shot myself.

And my frequent misses aren’t nearly so bothersome.

It’s taken me a long time to accept that not every shot will be a hit. Or realize that misses won’t be counted against me in some imaginary “life worth” scoring system.

But the realization frees me to relish that just being here. That’s my big takeaway. The cooler of fresh birds I brought home is only commemoration of the trip for my family and friends.

This too-short, twice-delayed, wingshooting trip ended far sooner than I would have liked. One more shooting session (I’d like a rematch with the “Scotty”) would have been nice, as would have another leisurely dinner with friends.

But that’s OK.

Memories of great times afield with friends make for great memories. They also lead to future plans for similar experiences. Flint Oak photo.

Unlike the dust in the wind, the memory of my great days afield with friends will stick in my memory. At least until it’s my time to become a small part of that dust in the wind.

It’s all part of that inevitable circle of life. Some parts are sweeter than others, but they all make the journey memorable.

Until mine ends, I’ll do my part to keep you posted. Have a great weekend.

— Jim Shepherd

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