Life in the open is one of my finest rewards. I enjoy and become completely immersed in the high challenge and increased opportunity to become for a time, a part of nature. Deer hunting is a classical exercise in freedom. It is a return to fundamentals that I instinctively feel are basic and right. – Fred Bear
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We’re thankful every day for the wildlife and the wild places they inhabit. We’re also thankful for our customers, friends and family we get to enjoy those experiences with. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! #conservationfirst#hunting#fishing#outdoors
North Dakota pheasant hunting. It was a tough year, thanks to a drought out West. Eight birds over three days. In terms of meat in the freezer, the ROI, as some might say, wasn’t exactly a winning proposition. But the dog loved it and had one of the best retrieves of her career: an old rooster running in deep grass that she wouldn’t give up on, even when I thought it was a lost cause. Also, you can’t measure bird hunting in simple economic terms. It’s been a tradition for the men in my family since before I could tie my own boots. With lots of down time and days on the road, pheasant hunting is when I first heard about my great grandfather losing the family farm in the Depression and my grandfather working to buy it back in the 1940s. It’s when my father related some of his stories from the Peace Corps in the Philippines in the 1970s. This year it was a hunting buddy talking about his conscription into the Army during Vietnam.
We walked many of the same hillsides, draws, and sloughs that we’ve done countless times before. It got me thinking that, if I ever have a daughter, I’d want to show her some of these same spots and tell her some of the same stories. It’s a sappy impulse, I know. But what can I say, it was a long time between birds. Also, nearly all of the land we hunt on is public land, or land accessible to the public. As a kid, I never imagined I might lose that. Now I’m not so sure. New oil wells and trucking roads appear every year in areas we once hunted, and the pressure is on to revoke some federal designations and protections. The land, it seems, is too often valued in terms of jobs created or revenue produced. Or worse, caught up in political posturing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m grateful to live in a country that was once wise enough to create public land for the sake of public land, and I’m hopeful we’ll be smart enough to keep it open (and intact) again. Because, for me, losing that land feels nothing short of losing a connection to my family. Overwrought? Sure. Then again, you didn’t grow up with a bunch of stone-faced Midwest farmers. #publiclandowner#publiclandsproud#makeamericagreatagain#forrealtho
"Okay, try and be as quiet as you can." Hunting Sitka Blacktail Deer on the Tongass National Forest is unlike anything else. I think they thrive in tangled areas like this one because they can hear you coming from a long ways off. But if you do successfully harvest one, it sure makes you appreciate that animal a whole lot more.
Photo and story by @rafe_hanson. Follow along as Rafe showcases his adventures on the public lands of the Tongass National Forest.
With the Keystone Pipeline back in the news, the battle over our public lands continues. Prairie smoke, or old man's whiskers (Geum triflorum), is one beautiful resident of America's public lands. This shockingly pink plant blooms in early summer and is mainly pollinated by bumblebees. Historically, some Plateau Indian tribes used it to treat tuberculosis.
I photographed this patch of G. triflorum, like a tiny fire puffing smoke, on a beautiful mountain trail in the San Juan National Forest, near Durango, Colorado.
The threats to our public lands are growing; it's time to fight back. Consider donating to an organization like The Wilderness Society, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, or the Sierra Club. And don't forget to go ENJOY your public lands, and then let your representatives know that you use them and love them! Photos and stories are a great way to do so. #publicland#publiclands#saveourpubliclands#publiclandsproud#resist#plants#plantphotography#wildflowers#flowers#botanical#botany
Gear: Canon 7D, Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM, Venus Optics twin-head flash KX-800