Monday, February 20, 2012

Pheasant Fest 2012: Winning Hearts and Minds, One Kid At A Time

Most of you are aware that Pheasants Forever hosted their annual Pheasant Fest in Kansas City this past weekend.  For those unaware, it's an outdoor trade show that features all things related to hunting and conservation -- bird dogs, guns, and everything else related.  By any account, it was a success, drawing more than 22,000 people over three days.  That's impressive, given that KC was as far south as The Fest has ever ventured -- not to mention that the weather was ridiculously nice, which probably kept a few people outside.

But I've got another, more personal, way to measure the festival's impact.  Saturday morning, I took my 11-year-old son Jack to the show, and let him bring along one of his classmates -- we'll call him Justin.  While Jack's outdoor experience rivals almost any kid of his age, Justin wasn't at all familiar with hunting, shooting, or bird dogs.  I could tell on the drive downtown that he had no idea of what to expect from the show.

After arriving, the boys and I cruised the aisles.  We pet bird dogs and we handled shotguns -- a first for Justin.  After about 30 minutes (and a few "rules" admonishments), I let them wander the hall alone while I conducted some business.  A couple hours later, we met up for lunch.  The boys were ebullient.  They told me about the shooting galleries and fishing games, and showed me the autographs they got from the young men who would represent the U.S. on our Olympic skeet team.  They had collected stacks of catalogs and brochures from vendors.  (Jack was a little bummed he couldn't find Larry Potterfield to autograph his Midway USA master catalog that he lugged to the show, but that's another story...)

Anyhow, I had planned on taking them home after lunch, but we went back for more.  Two hours later, we were descending the escalator, smiles on all our faces.  And then Justin turned to me with a question.

"Do you think I could take a hunter's safety course with Jack this spring?"

That's when I saw Pheasant Fest from a different perspective -- the view of a non-hunting kid who had truly gotten excited about a new thrill.  It's a thrill that I've never lost, but it's one I've almost come to take for granted.

The kids are home from school today (Presidents Day, you know).  But I can't wait to hear what Justin says to Jack tomorrow in class.  Hopefully, he's still as excited about hunting as he was on Saturday.  Hopefully, he'll talk his dad into shooting with us some afternoon this spring.

And maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to show Justin the thrill of a rooster flush or covey rise next fall.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Designer Breeds: English Pointer - Shar Pei Cross

Nothing like another trip to the vet for LuLu to get me blogging again. 

This evening, during the nightly chores to walk and clean the pups, we were greeted with this.  LuLu, my almost two-year-old pointer, had a head that was swollen up so badly that she could barely see, and her jowls were swollen and droopy.  She was fine when I checked her at noon -- all I can figure is that she tangled with a spider or some other creepy crawly.  As warm as it's been this winter, the insects have had an easy time of it.  It was sad, funny, and most of all, alarming.

I debated shoving some Benadryl down her gullet, but we decided that she was advanced enough that we were concerned about her airway.  Mrs. Scampwalker called the vet (literally minutes before closing time), and they graciously stayed late to administer a couple different rounds of antihistamine.  The photo was taken after the trip to the vet, and the swelling had already gone down quite a bit -- you can imagine what it was like 30 minutes earlier.

The Glass Pointer strikes again -- this time from the confines of her own kennel run!