It’s important to sit down and take the time to enjoy the harvest. A full freezer is a sign of many things—success in the field, a plentiful winter ahead, and great meals to come. All of this is a result of your hard work and determination.
Michael Braun learned to carve decoys from his father, and he carved his first one at the age of nine. Now that creating these one-of-a-kind, functional pieces of art is his full-time career, it’s still the tradition behind the artform that he finds most appealing.
As a duck caller and call maker, John Stephens has always been captivated by the people who practiced these art forms before him. “Waterfowl is one of the few sports that has so much tradition,” he says. “There’s so much history behind our sport. There have been so many call makers across the country, and even though they were making tools, they were making functional pieces of art. And to me that’s really just fascinating.”
Dusty Brown loves a good challenge, and getting sandhill cranes to come into a decoy spread is sometimes as challenging as it gets. “They see really well,” he says, “It’s more gratifying than decoying a duck or a goose. They’re a little more methodical how they approach the decoys. They don’t just come to bombard decoys with reckless abandon like ducks do.”
A meal fit for a king, the bone-in tomahawk steak is one of the most delicious cuts of meat possible. This is especially true when you get a chance to grill them right in camp fresh from the field. The tomahawk is a favorite of professional archer, teacher, SITKA Ambassador, and expert smoker of meats, John Dudley.
For Ira McCauley, duck hunting is about more than just the ducks. It’s about time spent with family, dogs included, and it’s about food. His favorite mornings of the year are spent in a Missouri duck blind known affectionately by the family as “Heaven.” The blind’s most distinctive feature is a ceiling mural of a mallard drake descending through the clouds, painted by Ira’s father and brother.
Alex Templeton didn’t know if her buck had made it through rifle season. She’d been watching him for nearly two years at that point, seeing him mature over the years on trail camera photos from her family’s Missouri farm. She’d decided long ago that this was the buck she wanted to hunt, but she hadn’t seen him at all through early, pre-rut archery season, and he’d dropped off her cams for the entirety of the mid-November rifle season.
I was young, maybe five years old. I was sitting on the floor of my grandparents house playing with my Lincoln Logs; I had combined multiple sets of logs to create the type of cabin that only a five year old mind can construct. I waved my grandfather over to me, (I call him PawPaw,) and he climbed out of his recliner to join me on the floor. I point at one of the rooms I’ve built and tell him, “that’s where the deer go.”
Leaving his job on Wall Street for the day, Eugene Burger boards the subway with hundreds of other people. Within a couple of hours he’s alone in his treestand. The stand provides a view of the Manhattan skyline and, sometimes, of the Boone and Crockett class bucks that call Long Island home.
Spend any time in the desert, under a late summer sun, and you’ll quickly be reminded of two things: life and death. Oases of life exist. And yet the grip of the desert is always near; the traces of it linger for decades as bones lay bleached, and tracks rest baked into the Earth’s crust, a reminder of the fact that literally everything is on the line out here, day in and day out.
The concept of deer camp goes back generations and is so often associated with history, heritage, and looking back at the past. But for photographer, Austin Thomas, and his best friends Taylor Cook and Gunnar Lovekamp, it’s all about living in the present.
For career farmer and rancher, Alex Templeton, there isn’t a distinct point where farming ends and whitetail hunting begins. It’s all part of the same holistic life, and it all connects to the land she spends her life working.