A Timeless Sportsman Message Courtesy of Federal Ammunition

I saw these posted on the Federal Premium Facebook page yesterday and they really struck a chord with me.   Each embodies the true essence of being a sportsman–yesterday, today and most assuredly even relevant into the future.   Consider these important messages courtesy of Federal!

Minnesota’s Buffer Zone Proposal Needs Careful Consideration

I suspect this blog post won’t make me popular among all sportsmen.

Particularly those sportsmen in Minnesota who have latched on to Governor Mark Dayton’s proposed statewide 50′ waterways buffer zone law proposal.

Is the new law proposal the panacea to bring pheasant populations back to respectable levels once again?   I doubt it.

Will the one-size-fits-all proposal achieve positive outcomes for improved water quality?   Maybe.

Does the Governor in his attempt to sell both farmers and sportsmen on the concept really understand what he is doing?   Not likely.

Ever since this buffer zone concept was first proposed at the Minnesota Pheasant Summit last December sportsmen have clamored to this notion of having landowners mandated to provide vegetative strips to “buffer” waterways from our varied land use (i.e. such as crop farming, etc.).   The concept was first introduced to a bunch of pheasant hunters meeting to brainstorm ways to turn the tide of our state’s pheasant population decline.

In reality, it was a savvy place to announce such a proposal because the crowd gathered all welcomed the concept and was hungry for something positive to grasp onto.   In effect, immediately the news spread like wildfire with sportsmen as the ambassadors carrying the message of this much needed change.   It was a perfect public relations scenario.


Predators love to roam areas near watercourses for the buffet it can become with susceptible prey often being easy pickings.

Well, truth is this concept is intended to have a greater impact on future water quality than it will have for upland birds.   In fact, I actually question if these buffers won’t become killing zones for pheasants, et al. as nesting and brooding habitat now becomes condensed to narrow corridors where most predators are ripe to roam.   Seriously, where do mink, raccoon, skunks, and coyotes do most of their traveling — yup, along watercourses.   It’s a natural highway for them.   Are you telling me that a nest that must sit idle for 3–4 weeks during incubation isn’t a large gamble for the birds anyway?   Let’s not make it even easier for the predators.

Honestly, that is one of my great concerns that deserves much deeper study instead of some anecdotal legislative gesture put forward by an elected official looking to place a feather in his proverbial political cap.   Granted, I applaud the proposal as a measure deserving consideration on many levels, but my concern is it’s nothing but a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that will ultimately not be served as promised.

Now, in full disclosure I am both a sportsman and a landowner who has a watercourse running through my farm.   To the best of my knowledge, there is no crop production that comes within the 50′ requirement, so I do not have any issues that I believe personally affect me regarding this matter.

But other farmers and landowners do have some legitimate concerns as it relates to their interests.   In one blog post I read yesterday the blogger summed up the agriculture perspective concerns far better than I could have grasped and/or explained it.   Take a look at this post entitled: The Buffer Strip Controversy…Debunked.   The blogger, Sara Hewitt, appears to be someone who understands the ramifications even better than our Governor.   I urge you to check it out.

This raccoon is not out for a casual stroll...it's on a mission to find food.

This raccoon is not out for a casual stroll…it’s on a mission to find food.

In closing, perhaps the aspect I hate most about this buffer measure is the simplicity of it.   To the average sportsman who hears about the concept…the immediate response is something like this: “it sounds good to me…let’s do it!”   Yet, I think such a cursory examination of the proposed buffer measure really shows a certain shallowness in thinking.   A shallowness by the sportsman in terms of a “quick fix” or “stop gap” action to fix a problem that is much deeper than adding a few strips of grassland here and there.

I might even call this buffer strip concept a false conservation hope that has potential for future negative consequences.   Indeed, I did not attend the Minnesota Pheasant Summit, but I ask what other substantive pheasant population measures did you hear come from that gathering?   I heard none.   It seemed once this buffer concept was proposed it overshadowed any other potential conservation action conversation.   In effect, the stakeholders of that meeting largely came away from the gathering skipping and singing “Happy Days Are Here Again!”

Well, time will tell.   I might be entirely wrong in my take on this subject, but I can’t help the fact I have some deep reservations about this buffer proposal, especially as it relates to conservation.   It could backfire.   I don’t believe the proposed measure has all upsides without some legitimate risks.   In nature there are few easy answers in this complex world.   Let’s be putting our efforts and our hopes behind proven science and not a government policymaker looking to increase his overall public approval rating.

Paying Attention To Detail; The Sportsman’s Greatest Asset

I just finished reading a 200+ page book that contained two spelling errors.   Seriously, in today’s world with computer typesetting and spell checking how can this even happen?   Moreover, I have to believe several sets of human eyes thoroughly perused the manuscript proofreading the copy prior to press.   Yet, it still happens.

Perhaps even more egregious is when a person holds themselves out to the world as an outdoors writer and they commit these same sort of terrible spelling sins.   Case in point.   Recently I was reading the social media profile of a person who claims to be an outdoors writer.   In fact, this particular person is sort of “in your face,” so to speak, with the fact their life is all about writing.   Just one slight problem.   No matter how professional their prose may actually be…the fact their profile lists their profession as an OUDOOR WRITER [their spelling] just has a way of leaving a bad first impression.   Know what I mean?

Hey look.   Nobody’s perfect.   I know if you were to peruse the many pages of this blog and the other writings I have done over the years I, too, have made my share of dumb mistakes.   Will probably do so yet again before this post is even fully written.   But the point is we should all strive toward honing our “attention to detail” skills.   It will benefit us throughout life.

It’s not always easy to find the needle in the proverbial haystack, but it can be done and fine-tuning such abilities can often reap big rewards for the sportsman.

Back in 1996, while getting my paralegal degree, I discovered one of the biggest faux pas I’ve witnessed in a legal setting.   While studying Minnesota Landlord/Tenant Law, I discovered a statute (M.S. §504.181, Subdivision 2) that didn’t make complete sense.   It was a simple, yet very important error.   The word “Lessor” had been used when it should have properly been “Lessee.”   The law had been enacted and on the books for years.   Scrutinizing eyes of both the Minnesota Legislature had missed it, as well as the Revisor of the Statutes who holds the main responsibility of ensuring errors like this do not get enacted into law.   Yet, errors happen…and it pays to be vigilant scouring the details of every situation.

Take the game warden who is hot on the tracks of trying to break a case by getting a few more facts to strengthen a pending conviction.   The good ones not only read tire tracks to know their suspect has been in the area.   Indeed, the good wardens can get their eyeballs down closer to the dusty road and also determine the direction of travel much like a hungry predator in hot pursuit of its quarry.

Hunters are no different.   The ability to observe the details and then properly interpret them can set you apart from others also traipsing in the woods.   Sometimes it can be looking for little things that just seem “out of the ordinary.”   Other times it may be just a sixth sense that gnaws at you to believe this is where you should sit or how to place your deer stand.

The same sort of careful insight can give one tournament fisherman the edge over the competition.   Sure, it’s easy to claim how one successful fisherman always seems to have a “lucky horseshoe” in the boat, but the truth is that angler has likely developed better attention to detail on reading the conditions.   After all, most fishermen have the right gear and information to be successful, yet the difference can be so subtle in the interpretation of the signs.   Logic might dictate fishing in one particular manner over another, but a “gut sense” might tell a consistently successful fisherman to stray slightly from the mainstream thinking.

It’s hard to teach the development of attention to detail skills.   I agree, to some extent certain people just seem to walk through life more aware than others.   On the other hand, I’ve also noticed how one of the biggest impediments to honing an attention to detail awareness is pure laziness.   I have a teenage stepson that way.   He will repeatedly walk over some object that doesn’t belong there until eventually I believe his mind no longer observes it.   The next person will come along and their mind will question…”Why is this laying here” and then subsequently pick it up and put it in the proper place.

It’s easy to walk through life not watching for those blatant spelling errors.   In fact, our mind’s eye is trained to know what the word is supposed to be even if it’s missing several letters or they are slightly jumbled.   Yet, I contend how you approach these proofreading situations is often how you approach interpreting many aspects of life, particularly in the outdoors.   The road map to being a success sportsman is not always clearly defined or obvious.   Sometimes it’s necessary to develop the knack for observing with a keener eye than most folks are willing to give a situation.   In the end…paying proper attention to detail tends to pay off for those who recognize its importance.