Six Things I Learned on a Pheasant Hunting Trip

Two weeks ago I packed up two duffle bags into the Subaru and drove north to meet my father-in-law and some other family members to drive out to South Dakota on a pheasant hunting trip. I’d been looking forward to this trip for six years, and when I finished my masters degree this spring, Katie and her dad combined to send me on this trip as a graduation gift. What a treat!
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I learned a lot on this trip. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a hunter. So naturally there was a steep learning curve here. I loved every moment of the trip and I was taking mental notes non-stop. Here’s what I learned.

Less is More

I think I packed less than anyone else on the trip. I was taking a lot of pride in “packing light” and making sure I only had two duffles. And that included all my ammo! That second duffle was heavy! But still, I bet each bag I only used half of what I brought. I think a lot of times in life we over-prepare for things. This is a big statement for me. I love preparing. I still have that Boy Scout “always be prepared” motto stuck in my head. I had been making a pack list for over a week to make sure I had everything. But less is more. Simplify, travel light, be flexible, make it work.

Me in the hunting van

Physical Preparation is Key

So the flip side: physical preparation make so much of life better. Hunting is hard work. I hunted hard. When they said to zig-zag those fields and flush out all the birds, I did it. The grasses seem like they’d be easy to walk through – not so much! Grasses were one thing, but reeds thigh-high, cattails chest-high. The places where these pheasants burrow are not easy to get to or easy to get through. Lots of leg lifts, lots of difficult footing. Additionally, I probably had one of the heavier guns. The whole first day I was doubting if I could carry this thing efficiently (and safely) for six days. Each time we got out of the van, I was prepared for what was ahead of me on the next walk. Each time I got back into the van I was thankful for my health and my physical fitness. I never once got in shape for this trip, but because of my fitness I was able to excel physically.

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Team Work

By far the best part of the hunting experience was surrounding a honey hole as a group. All is quiet, a bird could flush at any moment. Some of the elder hunters were giving non-verbal instructions of where to go – yes, it kind of felt military-like at times. I was reminded of Band of Brothers continually. We would alternate roles: sometimes I’d flush, sometimes I’d be a primary shooter. We’d report back how many roosters or hens we’d flushed since we couldn’t always shoot if they were to far away. It was exciting to be on a hunt together. It was truly a team effort to be successful. Most of us work in team environments in some capacity, probably at work. But this trip had such a clear and exciting goal each day, each time out of the van. It was an excellent reminder of the importance of communication and executing a game plan to give us the best possible chance of success.20131117-205706.jpg

Family Bonds Are Worth the Investment

Family takes work. I didn’t take work to be with these guys on this trip – it was easy. But it’s essential to take intentional time like this and spend time together; obviously it helps to have a trip to go on and a goal of hunting birds helps too. But coming from a family that doesn’t hang out socially as much as the Robertsons do, it was good for me to just be in community with these men. Friends are good, family is better. Even in-laws;) I jest, but honestly I couldn’t be happier to have these guys part of the family I married into. These hunting and fishing trips are a family tradition. It’s something the guys do. Steve and Paul talked about trips they’d done for 20 years in a row. Memories and experiences are forged on trips like these. I absolutely believe that being on this trip evoked a spiritual revival in my soul. I value this trip for reasons I never saw coming.

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Slow down

The first couple days I didn’t get a bird. Some comments were made, some tips were given, but in the end, I just needed to slow down. One night Grant showed a video from last year. He’s got a GoPro camera mounted on his barrel, so he had some fantastic footage of aiming and firing at these birds. What I watch was very educational. I realized I had more time that I thought to pull the trigger. I had been trying to get that gun up and fire right away. In reality, I had time to aim a little better. Sure enough, then next day I committed to a “one”-count before firing and I got my first bird. Then my second, and then I was a seasoned veteran pheasant hunter. The game gets good when you can slow it down, pick it apart, be methodical and precise. It felt great to slow the game down and win.20131117-205331.jpg

Guys, Guns and God

There’s just nothing like a guys trip. Being with men is good because men sharpen men in ways only men can. The great thing about a gun experience is… well, you shoot stuff! And you’re doing it with other like-minded men! And the great thing about God is that as far away from reality as I can get, He’s always with me, He’s always challenging me. I reflect on His Word, His plan, his presence in my life in awesome ways when I’m away from family, when I have good alone time at the start and end of my days. This was a vacation of sorts for me but it didn’t mean I turned off the most important routines to my life. In fact they were heightened in some respects. I’ll leave it at that. Guys, guns, and God was all good.

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If you’re in Pewaukee tonight

If you’re in Pewaukee tonight, there’s still time to head up to the high school to see JJ Watt’s number get retired. I wish I could be there. I think JJ is a special person. He’s great for football, he’s great for his communities, and he’s great for the kids. But as JJ said himself, never forget where you came from. JJ wasn’t the first to “make it” (and he’s never claimed to be the first). He’s certainly made it the furthest! He was NFL Defensive Player of the Year! But the first to “make it” was Mac. This post isn’t about Watt vs. Mac. It’s about remembering the story. Remembering the giants who came before you. Remembering the past, celebrating the now, and hopeful for the future.

Mark Batterson: Why I Write

Mark Batterson was one of the first folks I followed as a blogger.  When I realized I wanted to write, he was doing it already and he was doing it well.  Now just about everyone blogs.  Not true.  But it feels like I connect with very influential and motivational people who all blog.  There’s something to be said for processing life, events, thoughts through words.  The transparency and the discipline are beautiful.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about family and legacy.  I’ve been thinking about the next season of my life.  That has included a lot of story-telling, as husband & father and as an education consultant.  Then I stumbled on this short vignette from Batterson: Why I Write.

Systems

Boy, is it tough to work without a system.  I should know because I’m well versed in the process.  Here’s the problem: I’m a digital hoarder.  I just can’t say “no.”  A free ebook?  Yes, please?  Free report on the latest fitness trends?  Of course!  And with Dropbox and Evernote on all my devices, I can have all these resources with me at all times.  I love reading but this is where the rubber hits the road.  I have essentially an endless amount of information, but what am I doing with it?  How am I processing what I read?  What am I creating from what I’m consuming?

What I loved about college was organizing my courses each semester.  I loved getting a brand new three-ring binder, putting that syllabus at the front and loading up on blank sheets, ready to take notes in lecture, collaborate with students in discussion, and eventually finish with a passing grade on all the exams.

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I’ve taken that approach to organizing my business endeavors.  Imagine your filing cabinet at home.  Each has a folder, it’s well labeled, and it’s probably in alphabetical order.  Now I probably don’t go in the file cabinet nearly as often as I should, so that is where the system starts to break down.  It needs another component, a glue to make it all work on a daily basis.

Enter Evernote Remindersevernote reminder

I have found that adding a simple reminder to a particular Evernote Note has been a great prompt for me to begin each morning in the right place, with the right note.  From there, the system takes care of itself.  I look over what I’ve done earlier in the week, I look at my goals for the week, and I write this all down in my work log.  I’ve written about Evernote in the past, but I’ve never fully shared how I have mine organized probably because I’ve known that the system wasn’t fully complete.  It’s interesting how when you add more and more responsibility that you are forced to add more and more levels of organization, and in this case a simple reminder to get started on the right foot each morning.

Sorry if this post was a little vague.  As always, I reserve the right to blog about moments in time that are reminders to myself how I’m moving the ball forward.  But I hope that something here today gets you thinking about how productive you are, how reliable your system is.  Collecting information is easy.  Keeping it organized so that you can access it at the drop of a hat is a step towards professionalism.  And when you take all that information and create something meaningful on a regular basis, and you can tell about it, then you’ve become a pro.  For me, that’s the goal.

Three Reasons I Blog

I started blogging in 2006. Wow! That was 13 years ago. I remember walking to the coffee shop and writing that first post. Sure, my writing has changed a lot but I’m happy to report that this initial set of thoughts are still very applicable today.

I wrote about having a game plan, reflecting on life, learning from successes and failures, and growing stronger for the sake of my family. I still have a long way to go, but I appreciate the journey that I’m on.

Today I read a Facebook update from Michael Hyatt asking why we blog.

 

The post inspired me to reflect on why I blog.  Interestingly enough, John Saddington recently tweeted a similar thought:

 

So in this line of thinking, here’s the three reasons I blog.

Process life with words
I’ve always kept a journal. I process so much of my life when I take time to be disciplined in thought and reflect on things that have happened, thoughts or ideas I’ve had, and the results which occurred. I believe being an active thinker and reflected are essential to being successful in life. I don’t think I’ll ever stop blogging for this reason alone.

Telling a great story
People are looking for encouragement, purpose, and connection. I do not have a huge following on social media or my blog, so this is not a humble brag. I believe our story needs to reflect God’s story. I am a part of that story and I want my blog to demonstrate it. I want to help people pursue a healthy and disciplined lifestyle. Those are biblical principles; it’s the narrative God has given me. Blogging helps me tell the story, then I want the story to continue and build after a post goes out, so the process becomes cyclical. I want the posts to become a living narrative and thus a significant source for inspiration to live a great story.

Digital Coaching
I have always coached. I’ve always had a leadership role or mentoring relationships. As I’ve grown my professional life, that coaching has continued and my blog is my home base for this. To be clear, my blog is still evolving and I need to continue to prune away and develop my niche. But part of my thought process in writing on my website is to create a resource of people to help them lead a healthy, active, disciplined life. As I said – people are looking for all kinds of motivation and step-by-step guides. They want a project. Healthy living is my project, and I thoroughly enjoy creating this content for people to consume for themselves and hopefully share with others (hint hint).

Question :::  Have you ever thought about blogging?