A number of years ago, Labor Day weekend activities landed me in the hospital facing noteworthy surgery. As I began to contemplate the implications of my situation and slip into a bout of self pity, losing an entire season of upland hunting was beginning to seem like a harsh reality. For the first time in my life, my body was letting me down from pursuing passions in the field. My thoughts during post op recovery pondered the harsh realities of time, growing older, and the uncertainty of it all.
While I was able to limp through a small corner of the uplands that season and get drug through a bit more by good buddies, it was certainly not a "normal" year but those are stories told on another day. Through it all, what really plagued my mind was the simple fact that I had X number of upland seasons ahead of me. How many? God only knows but there is certainly a countdown with each year that passes.
That kind of revelation can kindle something within you, something that can be leveraged as fuel for your passions, accelerate a journey that's long overdue, and spark things you never knew were needful. For me, I committed to make the most of every season from now until I follow my dogs into the last sunset. The top of the list...backcountry sage grouse.
Why sage grouse? I can't say other than I have a deep admiration of their beauty and respect for the harsh environment they call home. Having chased pronghorn in the American West, the opportunity to camp under those stars that stretch across the the prairie and chase birds in such vast expanses seemed like a worthy challenge for both man and beast. I'm also just a lover of the great American West and have always been drawn to it.
I began to do research and formulate a plan over a year in advance. I spent countless hours reading articles, scouring DIY blogs, watching Project Upland videos, and pinging various folks in the community to gain insights. If you are like me, all that research is just as much a part of the journey as the trip itself and only provides fuel for that deep desire to explore more, push boundaries, and experience things that so many others won't. It's not that they can't or aren't capable, it's that time has a way of evaporating and before you know it the opportunities have slipped by, comfort zones were never expanded, and dreams were never chased.
As these things usually go, one call leads to another, a text leads to another, and the next thing you know a year has passed and there is a group of passionate uplanders all headed for public lands sage country. Stay tuned for insights on our hunt.