Making Connections on a Pheasant Hunt

A group of women with varied hunting experience got together for a Federal-sponsored pheasant hunt. Here’s an account of the event.

Federal Project Manager Anne Beihoffer, provided the group’s reflections from a recent pheasant hunting event for new and experienced hunters from Federal and the corporate office in Anoka, Minnesota. What Anne didn’t share, but we will, is that Anne has been a passionate advocate for introducing hunting to youth and adults. Anne is a passionate advocate for introducing new participants to hunting and seeing their individual growth as a result.

There is a special connection between hunters
We hear these words frequently, and a group of Federal women learned what that connection means recently on a pheasant hunt in South Dakota. They experienced a journey together as some became new hunters and others increased their hunting skills.  Here are some insights into the connections these hunters shared.

Connection with the tools – Borrowing, trying, even buying your first shotgun. Support from family and friends as you shoot for the first time. Encouragement and advice to help you hit more targets, how to load and unload shells, trying different ammo to reduce recoil and increase hits. Safety is the common thread and essential to the shooting session: protect those eyes and ears!  How to carry, how to hold, muzzle control, and always remember to keep the safety on until you’re ready to shoot. Practice boosts your confidence!  A new fashion sense – brush-resistant upland pants, oilskin chaps, wool, fleece, layers, and always remember safety – blaze orange. Leather, Gore-Tex, Thinsulate – make sure you’ve broken in those boots – you don’t need rubber boots unless you step into a hidden creek.

Maybe I can do this hunting thing!  

Connection with the hunt – The anticipation of heading out in the field in the crisp morning air. The surprise of the first flush, wondering if the bird is close enough, waiting just a little too long to decide, not pulling the trigger because you’re not sure, saying “Oh well, there will be other birds.”  Seeing more birds, starting to get comfortable with the movement of gun to shoulder, safety off, finger on trigger and squeeze – seeing a bird fall for the first time when you shoot. Gaining more confidence, which helped when a difficult shot arose. You apply the lessons you’ve learned in the field, you hear the cheers and encouragement from your fellow hunters and guide! You love to see the dogs working and “getting birdy.” You appreciate the beauty of the golden fields and green valleys. White clouds on the blue sky. The vibrant colors of the rooster in flight. The enthusiasm as the dog brings the bird to its master. The satisfaction the dog feels when it’s done the job well…the same satisfaction you now feel.

I can do this hunting thing!

Connection with self and others – For some the trip meant new connections in their family – bonding with a teenage daughter over target shooting and plans to hunt together in the future. A new activity for husband and wife. One more way mom is cool in her son’s eyes. A gateway trip to a new lifestyle.  Learning about other areas of the company. How can we help and support each other. What do you struggle with? What can I do to help? I never would have met you if we hadn’t tried this new activity together. The great comradery amongst hunters which makes the trip very fulfilling. Learning skills. Trying again and again until you connect with a bird. The confidence increasing with each shot fired and each bird returned. The empowerment, knowing you can bring food from field to table.

I like this hunting thing and want to do it again!

Connection with nature – Respect for the bird harvested. Appreciating the life that so recently left. Its warm body. The beauty in the colors and patterns of the feathers. Saving some feathers to remember and honor the bird you pursued. Knowing your ammunition did the job humanely and swiftly. Realizing the importance of habitat for the birds to flourish. Seeing the remains of a bird consumed by a coyote and knowing you’re not the only predator the birds need to evade. Understanding why hunters are conservationists, ensuring there is land to sustain this heritage for years to come. Knowing how Pittman-Robertson provides funds to manage animals and their habitat, realizing the ammunition we all strive to make and sell daily helps ensure our feet can continue to break a trail as we walk the journey of being a hunter.

I am a hunter!

Connection is about working together as a team, supporting and encouraging while experiencing the challenge, success and defeat of achieving your goals – which applies not only in the field but also in the workplace. How you choose to connect will be varied and individual, but it’s critical nonetheless as it helps take you from “I think I can” to “I know I can.”