mall game hunting for me is often as much of an excuse to go sit in the woods and ruminate as much as hunt. I am as bad or worse a small game hunter as anything else, but as they say, even a broken clocks right twice a day. I’m apt to enter as more nulls in this ledger as not, but as is the nature of this experiment, that doesn’t represent the sum of the game.

Date Animals Shot Animals Retrieved Sex Yield
Totals 0 0 0 oz
Date Weather Temperature Start of Hunt Miles in Travel Time Hunting Total Time Yield/Time
Totals 0 00:00:00 00:00:00
Date Location Ownership Shots Fired Ammunition Cost Other Cost Total Cost Cost/Yield
Totals 0 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00

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Devil Birds

We spent the first evening eating, drinking and scheming. The affair, we decided, would be undertaken in the usual manner of men who can’t stand to escape to the great outdoors just to erect a temporary indoors from which to surveil those great outdoors they had previously been in – sit and call, walk and listen. Brandon and Ryan took turns babysitting me and in this manner we covered between seven to ten miles each day. We walked up and down what felt like sheer cliff faces, we stripped down to cross spring fed creeks, and we walked through a holler full of feral hogs (this is akin to the valley mentioned in the twenty-third psalm, but if the scriptures written in the Ozarks).

The Duck Hunt

ust as it is true that “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” it is also true that “to be present in the duck blind is to be absent from your family.” In large part, the choice to chase waterfowl – I mean really get after it – is a choice to be gone, to miss some milestones. I’m as guilty of it as anyone. This last season I crossed multiple states, invested hundreds of hours, and spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars in search of greenheads and honkers. I’ve missed out on more walks to school, more nights in bed next to my wife, and more of my children’s firsts than I care to count.

Pronghorn on the Plains

315 Yards, 3.8 MOA.” I heard the dope shouted out from somewhere over my left shoulder. I looked at him looking at me, a world away, but somehow also in my lap. For a fleeting second I thought about how strange it was that this tool makes something so intimate and externalizes it, sends it far away. I wouldn’t have to reckon with my choice for another ten minutes at least, until I walk over and put my hand on its recently stilled chest.

I Came Here to Have Fun

am thankful there is no barrier to the outdoors apart from desire. If I were measured against any other benchmark, I would come up short. I am no great hunter. I’m not a giant in the field of conservation. I can’t track the faintest blood trail or find the smallest sign. I can’t make the longest shot. I can’t sound the most realistic call or train the best retriever…but I can want it. I can desire to be outside in the woods. I can day dream about about sitting in a duck marsh while I’m sitting at my desk avoiding work. I can ache with a desire from the very core of my being to escape to the wild places and fortunately for me, that’s all she asks.

Get Prepared

nce again we find ourselves at that stage of the evening where the appetizers are being served, and while they smell and taste better than you could have imagined, it does little to change the fact that you’re starving and at this point you’re not sure if you’ll make it until the main course. Dove season just hit the table and Early Teal is being carried out of the kitchen by the waiter as we speak, but November seems like it might as well be decades away. If you’re anything like me, grateful as you are for the respite from the hunger of the off season, nothing can sate your appetite quite like gadwall & greenheads, the bite of crisp air at your cheeks, and the sound of ice sluicing around your wader boots as you throw out your spread. While that may be true, you might as well do what you can to scratch the itch in another way.

No More Apologies

I n the Neale family, there are just a few holidays that matter: Resurrection Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Opening Weekend of Whitetail Firearm Season. It is time with my family and time in the woods that I have come to cherish. This year I planned to head up a day early to duck hunt [...]

Wool and Waxed Cotton

The photos on this post are all  35mm film photos. Some are out of focus and some are on corrupted film. I wouldn't have it any other way. T here's a powerful nostalgia that I've been reckoning with recently. Maybe it's the fall, maybe it's fatherhood, that feeling of trying to grab smoke from a [...]

Pheasants in Winner, SD

Photos for this post were provided by contributor Cody Goff from More Than a Calling. O n September 26th at 10:47am I received a text message from Cody, "October 19th-23rd...what do you got going?" A few minutes later a dropped pin in Google maps, Winner, SD. "This feels very cryptic, " I replied. He responded [...]

Bowhunting: A Brief History

B owhunting has always intrigued me. From an early age, I can remember my dad bowhunting, or more accurately, I remember my dad shooting his bow in the backyard, honing his craft. I remember my dad's ratty Mossy Oak Bottomland patterned get up, some of which I probably still have in a rubbermaid container in [...]

Cory’s First Dove Hunt

I awoke with a start. 5:00am. That can't be right! I checked my messages - 3:58am: Leaving now. 4:23am: I'm here. Where is you? 4:33am: Heading home. Call me if you are awake. This is was not at all what I had in mind for the start of the day. By 5:06am I had my [...]

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