Remember To Wear Your Personal Flotation Devices!

April 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Note: This article first appeared in Mid-America Waterfowl magazine

Chances are if you are a duck hunter, you have heard the stories of people involved in accidents. Guys who sank their boat; the guy who fell through the ice and drowned chasing a crippled duck. Most of us hear these stories and genuinely feel bad for them and their families, because as fellow duck hunters, they are our brothers and sisters.

Yet, the messages of these stories tend to go through one ear and out the other. Recently a buddy and I were involved in the kind of incident most of us think will not and cannot happen to us — but it did!

On Sunday, November 11, three friends and I began our day at a draw-in waterfowl area. But as each of us drew a pill from the box, it became apparent we would not be hunting there that day. Instead then, we hustled an hour and a half to a lake that has been real good to us duck hunting-wise the past few years.  We had a spot in mind, reached it by boat, and began setting decoys for a shoot.

It was raining, freezing rain, flurrying.  Then it stopped — and began to rain mallards. There were ducks everywhere, and of every kind. Between the four of us, we had 10 greenheads, 3 hen mallards, and a mixture of other ducks.

In all the great shooting, fun and excitement, it never crossed our minds that for a couple of us,  this hot-barrel duck hunt might be our last.

It was getting close to 1 o’clock.  I had promised my folks I would be home by 2 for a Thanksgiving dinner. So, Trent decided that while two of our friends started picking up the decoy spread, he and I would motor across the lake to my pickup. He would then run back and shuttle the others and the gear across the water to their vehicle.

As Trent and I were idling along (yes, I said idling), we were still amazed at the amount of birds flying. Even though we had limited out and were getting off the lake, there were still tons of birds in the air. It was a day of duck hunting every duck hunter dreams of.

At the same exact instant, we both shifted our gaze from the sky … to the stump in front of us!

“Stick!” we yelled simultaneously.

The stump, angled just right, made the boat go straight up and sideways at the same time. It all happened in a matter of seconds. The four life jackets that had been within arm’s reach now seemed miles away as water poured into the boat. Trent yelled, “Grab the life jacket!”

I ended up grabbing one;  however, thinking back as the boat was rolling, I just kind of stood there. So MANY things go through your head in seconds and I froze,  thinking “this is really happening.” Trent hopped out the back of the boat by the motor as I jumped away from the boat. Once again, everything took place in a matter of seconds.

I went underwater and popped back up — but not without a struggle.

I panicked.

The water was cold, and even though I’m a good swimmer I was finding it difficult with my waders and amount of clothing I had on. Luckily I was with someone who was calmer and was able to direct me in what to do. He shouted, “Kick your waders off and relax!”

Thinking back to those stories we’ve all read before, I remembered that’s the first thing they always tell you to do in such an incident: kick your waders off. I always thought if that was me, I would drown because it takes a person to stand behind me and pull my waders on. So how was I supposed to get them off in an accident?

However, when I undid the straps, my waders seemed to just fall off. I swam toward the boat. We were probably 75 yards from shore at this point. Trent tried to pull me on top of the boat with him. But it was not going to hold the weight of both of us on top, so I stayed in the water and held onto his hand and a handle on the boat.

Trent yelled back to our buddies who were picking up decoys, “Hey, call 911, we flipped the boat!” We were 200 yards from where we were hunting, so I can understand why one just looked over and yelled “What happened?” But it didn’t take long to for him to see what was going on. Then both of them bolted out of the water and grabbed their cell phones. Well, one of them grabbed his cell phone — the only one out of the four of us who even had his phone.

While I was sitting there floating, freezing, panicking, I heard Trent make the comment, “Man, my boat is trashed, huh?”

That was the last thing I wanted to hear!  I told him, “Your boat!? What about my gun, what about my Canon camera?”

Just as that last word rolled off of my tongue, my camera came floating to the surface in its Pelican case — right in front of me.

I looked at Trent and told him, “I am going to float on this and kick my way to shore.” He said he would only let me go if I knew for sure I was going to make it.

“I think so,” I said.

The air-tight camera case was all I had for a floatation device. All other life jackets were lost as the boat rolled … including the one I once grasped in my hand. When your boat flips, it is like a hand grenade goes off inside, especially if the wind is blowing. Spare gas cans, marsh seats, guns, even the ducks you shot that day …  go every which way and you wonder if you will ever even see any of these things again.

That is, of course,  after you worry if anyone will ever see you again.

I swam for shore.  I was within 30 yards when I felt like my efforts to reach shore were not working out. I wasn’t going anywhere anymore. So I decided it must be my coveralls and rain jacket dragging me down, just as my waders had. So I kicked them off as well, keeping my coveralls in one hand and my camera case in the other. I figured if I was going to survive, I might as well keep something, considering I had lost all my other things. Also, I didn’t want to have to replace everything in my wallet.

I made it another 15 yards and once again my momentum quit. But this time, as I kicked my feet in another panic, I felt one foot touch bottom.

Then I hit the ground running. I ran to my truck shedding clothing, socks, shorts — every layer I had on, figuring wet clothes weren’t going to do me any good.

I got to my truck, turned the heat on, took my phone out of the glove box and dialed 911. They barely got out “911 what’s your emergency?” before I was shouting where I was and what happened. The lady asked if I was okay and said that someone had already dialed 911, that I should stay in my truck and wait for them,  and that is what I did.

About five minutes after I reached my truck, help arrived. But before it did, I received a casual call from my Dad, just wondering how the hunting had gone that day. What he got was me crying saying I was so sorry and that we had flipped the boat and where we were at and that I was so sorry. I told him it was just me and that Trent was still out there — and he immediately assumed the worst. He informed my Mom, and they both headed out to where we were. By the time they got there, the Conservation Department had already arrived with a boat to pick up Trent. He, too, was escorted to an ambulance and treated for hypothermia and pneumonia.

I was worried my Mom would be mad that I had single-handedly ruined our early Thanksgiving dinner plans. Yet to my surprise, she was not. I was embraced by both of my parents in a way that you could feel their relief.

All and all, everything turned out okay that day. We had to give the sheriff’s department and Conservation agents our statements of what happened, and we both were allowed to go home without taking an ambulance ride to a hospital. Even my camera was bone-dry inside the Pelican case!

However, my gun, shell bag, and waders, including Trent’s boat were now property of the lake.

We were lucky to be alive in my opinion. God was really watching over us that cold, windy Sunday.

But it doesn’t end there! The following Wednesday, God was with us again as Trent was able to recover his boat. When they dragged the boat in, it acted like a scoop across the bottom and they were also able to recover my gun, waders, shell bag, even the ducks I had shot that day! Sounds like a great story, right? Everyone turned out unscathed, and everything was recovered without damage except a swamp seat or two.

You know, my sister asked my Dad a week after the event if Trent and I could have really died.  My Dad paused and said that we very well could have but we were fortunate enough to know we had to kick our waders off and get out of the chilled water. We owe that knowledge to stories such as this one.

In addition, to highlight our mistakes,  we had four life jackets in the boat, all within arm’s reach. But in seconds, they were out of reach.

Things could have been a whole lot worse. I hope as a duck hunter that none of my fellow hunters ever have to go through something such as this. As you know though, things happen in an instant that we can’t explain. To break this thing down, be prepared, wear a life jacket, have a cell phone, make sure someone knows where you are hunting, and try not to panic if things do take a turn for the worse.

To everyone, have a great hunt, but most importantly — make it a safe hunt.

Wrapping Up Waterfowl Season

April 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Bands are always memorable to a waterfowl season

Bands are always memorable to a waterfowl season

As the sun set the other night on the highway coming home from snow goose hunting, it was almost like it was setting on my season as well. Every year I say that I am probably not going to get to hunt as much as last year and then the next year rolls around and I say the same thing. Well this year was no exception either. As the fall rolled around instead of going to Highland Community College like I did last year, this year I was going to Kansas State. And you guessed it like the previous years before I said to myself, “hmm probably not going to get to hunt as much this year because of college.” Turned out I was completely wrong.

As it turned out even with working part time and taking 15 credit hours this year’s season was good to me! I still found time to scout and hunt sometimes even quick ones before class. Although the spring conservation order for snows is still not over yet; I just feel as though my season is at a close with being deep into this second semester and work piling up! (I am taking 18 credit hours this semester and working 20 to 30hrs a week.) Nevertheless, this year we still managed to scratch out 198 ducks, 103 Canada Geese, 1 speck, and 529 snows. I realize there are people out there who have shot way more than this and way less than this but I feel like it’s a good number for people who have a lot on their plates.

IMG_0238

Good hunts are nothing if not shared with good friends.

The main thing I want to emphasize is to never set the standards of your season before your season. This year I focused a bunch on quality of hunts instead of quantity. I knew that I was going to get to go on many hunts so the ones that I did go on I had to make them count. So scouting played an important role this year, especially hunting in an area I am not entirely familiar with! Although the odds seemed to be against us at times everything still turned out okay in the end. Sometimes it’s not always about train wrecking the birds each hunt. Sometimes it’s just the experience.

Just like the young K-State basketball team, even though we didn’t win the national championship we had some good games! Just beating KU at home should be considered a success; it goes back to the quantity VS quality. Although we didn’t rack up a huge win streak (quantity) we still had (quality) by beating KU. Just like Wichita State. If you look at the grand scheme of things yes, it was a bummer they didn’t win the national championship either, but if I was a senior on that squad you can end your season knowing you went the longest run undefeated!

Happy New Year

January 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Butch Waterfowl hunting can either be feast or famine depending on location and weather fronts. We spend most of our fall looking at weather forecast begging for a stiff north wind and a cold snap. Well this past season lady luck was on our sides. I live in southeastern Indiana, a place not known for its waterfowl hunting. To consistently kill birds around here you have to flat out work your butt off. While we don’t get the major migrations that the better parts of the flyway enjoys we still manage to have a good time and love every minute of it. As luck would have it, the second part of our waterfowl season brought cold temps and along with them the grand passage.
When I saw one of my hunting buddies name on my phone I knew this was going to be good. When I answered all he could say was, “Dude, I have found the mother load.” The next morning was Dec 29th and we found ourselves brushing in layout blinds and packing decoys across a muddy cornfield. While this job never gets easier we were pretty excited about the hunt that was about to happen. We don’t get many snow geese so seeing one locked up and dropping in with the first flock of Canada’s pretty much put a bulls eye on that bird. We ended the morning with a limit of Canada’s. My buddy shot his first snow and I shot my first band. Pumped was an understatement.
When we met three days later, Jan 1st, we didn’t think life could get much better. Were were still walking on cloud nine while brushing in layout blinds along the edge of a farm pond. As soon as the sun starting breaking over the horizon flocks of ducks started trickling into the pond and my buddy’s lab was breaking ice picking up dead birds. About mid morning a small group of geese started working our spread. As the locked up and came I called the shot. As I walked over to pick up my goose I saw the shiny piece of jewelry that every waterfowl hunter lives for. It was my second band in three days. While 2013 was my best year of water fowling ever, 2014 is looking pretty darn good.

What Makes That 3 a.m. Wakeup Call Worth It?

June 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by CollegiateCamo Pro-Staffer Thomas Karczmarczyk

Sunset Over LakeWhether you dream of greenheads coming in feet down to your decoys or that huge buck 30 yards from your tree stand and pausing broadside for that perfect shot, you know that even your passion for hunting can sometimes be challenged by the exhaustion of a long season nearing its end.  Everyone that has had their alarm clock go off at 3 a.m. for another cold day in the blind has had that momentary thought of punching the snooze button and going back to sleep in your warm bed.

I’m an avid waterfowl hunter and spent 40+ days in the blind last season but even for someone that is as passionate about hunting as me can sometimes second guess whether it is worth the effort to go through all that work.  Well let me sum it for you; it’s definitely worth it. One of my most memorable hunts from this past season came on one of those days where I almost didn’t make it out of bed at my 3 a.m. alarm.

The weather was calling for bluebird skies, which aren’t ideal for waterfowl, and I was the only one out of my group of four guys that normally hunt together that made it to the blind that morning.  There weren’t clouds of ducks that made this hunt memorable; it was all about enjoying the act of hunting and enjoying what God has created for us.  The sunrise over the water was truly awesome.

While I was sitting there enjoying God’s masterpiece, a quote I heard from an old timer came to mind, “Some people go to church and think about hunting, others go hunting and think about God.”  We often get too preoccupied with getting a limit or bagging that monster buck that we forget to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate what we have been blessed with.  I’m just as guilty of this as the next person but don’t let the drive for that perfect hunt overshadow the happiness that can be had from simply sitting in the marsh or the woods.

I hope everyone has a great season this year no matter what animal you’re chasing.

How Hunters Can Avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder in the Summer (S.A.D.)

June 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Written by CollegiateCamo Pro-Staffer Brady Burks

Brady Burks with DuckHey guys, my name is Brady Burks and I would like to start out first by saying thanks for the warm welcome I received as the newest member to the CollegiateCamo pro-staff team. If you haven’t had a chance to read my bio I am a 19 year old duck hunter from Wathena, Kansas. I hunt anything that moves, don’t get me wrong, but I have had a special connection to hunting ducks ever since a family friend introduced me to it in 2004. I liked duck hunting and anything to do with duck hunting so much, by 2006 I was already competing in duck calling competitions. I am no champion, however I enjoy it and last year hard work paid off when I won the Cabelas 2012 Novice Meat Competition. I look forward to this year’s competition season to see what it may bring.

More recent than my hobby of blowing duck calls, I have taken up the art of outdoor videography. This past seasons a group of friends and I logged over 9 hours of hunting footage, and I can honestly say I pressed record more than I did the trigger. I have never been a very good shot and my excuse for filming all the time is it’s harder to miss! And I get the same sensation of watching ducks fall through the view finder as I do looking down a barrel. I look forward to sharing these videos with the CollegiateCamo fans on my YouTube channel this summer! Which speaking of summer that is really what this blog is about, so here we go!

Seasonal Affective Disorder A.K.A SAD is a medical term often used to describe a depression one feels when the seasons change. More commonly found in people during the winter months, I feel it affects more people during the summer, and by people, I mean hunters. For in the summer months of June, July, and August, there is no rut, no migration, and no gobbling long beards to keep a hunter at bay. And unless you are an angler at heart, this can be a long three months for some. So my fellow sportsmen here are some ways I cope with the summer and avoid being S.A.D.!

First, there is always equipment that can be repaired and replaced, especially for the waterfowl hunter. You would think for the hundreds of dollars we spend on decoys each year we would take better care of them, yet by the end of each season there are always heads broken, strings and weights missing. And of course layout blinds full of corn, soybeans, and maybe even your shotgun full of it too. (Hopefully not, but it happens.) So one thing I like to do during the summer is go through all my equipment and make sure it is clean and put away neatly.

Also, even though I focus mainly on ducks another way to pass those summer months is to manage your properties for the upcoming season. For me, I have been putting in mineral blocks and trail cameras for my deer. Even if I end up hunting ducks more at least I know I will have the deer getting the minerals they need during the summer months. In addition, I spend time trimming branches and making decisions on where to put stands up that may give me a better encounter than the previous year.

One of the other things I do during the summer is of course fish. Being a waterfowl hunter, fishing allows me to be on the water and watch the local birds that hang around. Whether it be the flock of teal and divers on the river, or the massive resident honkers on the farm ponds near my house just looking at them and counting their hatch gets me jazzed about the season.

These are just some things that I do during the summer to avoid being S.A.D. If you are an avid hunter feeling down during the summer months, try doing what I do. There are plenty of outdoor hobbies and things that can be done to help you ease the pain until the next season comes. Don’t be another statistic and wind up with seasonal affective disorder.

Once again, thanks a lot guys on welcoming me aboard to the CollegiateCamo crew! If you want to know more about me, or see what I am up to find me on Facebook, or check out my YouTube channel “Brady Burks.” You can follow me on twitter @bburks66. Looking forward to a great year, we just have to make it through these summer months first!

Summertime Blues: How to Prep for Waterfowl Hunting Season

June 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Duck Hunting

Written by Pro-Staffer Jonathan Mosmeier

The dog days of summer are now upon most of the country and if you’re a diehard hunter like me this can be a tough time of year. With the closest hunting season still 3 months away in most states, it can definitely get a little tougher to get your fix. But, there are things that you can do in the summer that can really increase your odds of being successful in the fall. If waterfowl hunting is your passion you will find that this becomes a year-round affair.

Summertime is the time to be fixing equipment that you tore up last season and making a list of the things that you need to add to your arsenal before the opener. If you have permanent blinds, this is the time to make repairs. Also, don’t forget about all of those decoys you used and no doubt abused all season long. Break out the pressure washer and some soap and get to cleaning. And of course this is when you should be wearing out reeds practicing on your calls. I like to keep mine in my truck and practice on the way to and from work (the stares you get in traffic are priceless).

For all the bow hunters out there you already know what summer means – practice! There are 3-D shoots almost everywhere, and there is no  better way to practice than getting out and slingin’ arrows. This is also a good time to get out and hang tree stands. Don’t forget to check on all the sets you left out from last year and make sure that your straps are in good shape and the squirrels haven’t made a nest out of your seat.

If you haven’t tried bow fishing, this is a great way to keep your bow arm strong in the offseason and when you find the fish it is an absolute blast. So grab your swim trunks and an old pair of shoes and hit the creeks. So while you may not be under a flocked of locked up geese or looking down at a 10 point buck there is a few ways to take the edge off summertime.

 

Get the Heck out of Missouri

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This trip to Nevada actually started in Arkansas at the “World Duck Calling” Championship. My buddy was headed back to Nevada and the invitation to tag along to hunt was  irresistible.

After 27 hours of driving we reached Fallon Nevada; the nearest town to good hunting.  The first day was spent  scouting  waterfowl; mainly ducks and Tundra swans.

Sometimes it happens like this and the first day of hunting was a bust…we zeroed out.

 The next day made up for it. This was the first time I had swan hunted; it’s not legal to hunt swans in Missouri & Kansas where I spend most of my hunting time so this was exciting.

 We used about 40 floating swan decoys and a special swan call by Allan Stanley Game Calls.

Our calling was successful. They are BIG birds!  What’s cool is that the ducks in Nevada follow around the swans since the swans dig up the food from the bottom.  Most of the time if you find swans there are plenty of ducks, too.

 The limit for the season was two swans and I shot my first one the second day of hunting and my 2nd

was taken the 3rd day out.

 On the 2nd day there were 5 of us hunting  and 5 swans were shot which was the most my buddy had ever seen killed in one day. We were all victorious.

 Then the rest of the fun followed…the feast was great.  The swans were marinated in Italian dressing and teriyaki sauce and then grilled.

 Nope…doesn’t taste like chicken but more like steak.

 This trip is one I would recommend to any waterfowl hunter.

 

Tundra Swan

Christmas Top 5

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

With Christmas just around the corner you’re nearing the big day. Stores are full of the hustle and bustle of last minute shoppers all floundering what to get the people still left on their list. Panic begins to set in as you look at your own list Trying to figure out what to get those people on your own lists….

As you peer down you see loved ones that you wish to get them something they will actually use instead of hiding your gift in their closet. Taking another look, you see a glimmer of hope… You notice they’re hunters and outdoorsmen and women… Now is the task deciding what to get them. Here’s the top 5 gifts for each one that may be on your list.

 Bow Hunters…..

5.) Arrows! They may need new ones from being bent, damaged or lost. You can also get them arrow wraps and fletchings to personalize them. New broad heads are always handy as well!

4.) Fletching Rigs! Makes fletching arrows so easy anyone can do it!

3.) They may need a new sight for their bow or there are flashlights made to screw in where the stabilizer goes that will give them more light when they need it.

2.) A Bow Backpack! This makes gathering and transporting their bow hunting equipment trouble-free and frees up their hands to grab any last minute items.

Last but not least….

1.) Targets! 3-D and Block archery targets are perfect for off-season practice to prep them for the next season.

 Waterfowl Hunters

5.) Harvesting Helpers. The DUCKSTRAP offers various game straps that can be personalized for the waterfowler that you think so highly of and turns it into a gift from the heart that can be personalized for an occasion. The Bird Hitch Bird Cleaner brings a new ease to cleaning and breasting the harvested birds that your hunter will appreciate.

4.) Waterfowl Calls! It doesn’t matter if it’s ducks or geese… There are new calls being premiered with different tones and for different occasions. Your hunter can never have enough.

3.) Blind/Boat Goodies! You can get them an awesome extra large blind bag that will hold all of their needed items from shells, calls, knives, snacks, etc or a marsh seat to give added comfort.

2.) Gun Care and Accessories! This varies from a gun cleaning kit (which this time of year is greatly necessary) to a floating gun case to chokes. With chokes you need to know what gun they hunt with to ensure that you get the correct one.

Last but not least….

1.) Decoys and rigs! A hunter can never have too many and there are types for all occasions. We suggest the several types… Greenhead Gear Puddler Pack which will give variety to any hunter’s collection. MOJO’s Texas Style Decoy Rig which has positive reviews for tangle free hunting. There is also the Rig’Em Right Jerk Rig which is great for the late season waterfowl for decoy motion device that won’t spook the experienced birds.

 Big Game Hunters…..

5.) Scents! Whether it’s to lure in a male by the scent of a lady or to challenge him by the musk of a fellow suitor… It’s a must have and there are many options that will help your hunter fill their tag.

4.) Scent Eliminators! While trying to lure through certain aromas…. Some are better left at home. This includes body washes, shampoos, deodorants and clothing detergents. This will help them to eliminate spook.

3.) Optics! They can always use these. The newest high power scope they have had their eyes on for their new rifle or maybe a range finder to improve their accuracy is a sure fire item.

2.) Camouflage! There are always new patterns with new features coming out each year and they can never have enough. Warm gear is a must to improve the success of their hunt and to add accuracy so they aren’t shivering so much they can’t take their shot. 

Last but not least….

1.) A Quality Knife Sharpening Kit. Nothing is worse than having a dull knife when you need it the most. This can help ensure that they always have a sharp blade for every hunting adventure!

 Fishing Enthusiasts…..

5.) New Lures, Flies and Hooks! Maybe their favorite one got lost or trapped at the bottom or a lake. They can never have too many no matter how many tackle boxes they have full of them. You can even match it with ne fishing line or leaders if they use them.

4.) New Rod and/or Reel! Because one, two… five is never enough. Make sure that you match equipment to the kind of fishing that they do (ie. trout, fly fishing, bass, deep sea, etc).

3.) Water Prep Items! This can be chest waders or even a float tube that can be used at their favorite fishing spots.

2.) Storage! This can range from tackle boxes or rod holders to help keep all of their fishing goodies organized and in a single area so everything is easy to gather for their next trip.

Last but not least….

1.) Polarized Sunglasses! They can always use these for those bright days on the water. A holder can be a good idea for them as well to ensure that they don’t fall in the water when they lean over.

 Those who just love the Outdoors….

5.) Hydration! A good long lasting thermos or a heavy duty water bottle is always a great idea! Get it in their favorite color or with their favorite team on it! Remember it’s important to hydrate on any adventure.

4.) Technology Protection! Pelican and Otter Box make great Waterproof and Drop-Proof cases for phones and other assorted technology items.

3.) Cold Gear or Waterproof Gear! This will help keep them warm and dry and prevents them from catching a cold! This can vary from pullovers, hoodies, Under Armour, Drake, etc. Arctic Shield X System Fleece Gloves, protects against the cold and can still shoot in them.

2.) Lighting! Maybe they need a lantern, lost their old headlamp or just need another LED Flashlight for those times when they need some extra light.

Last but not least….

1.) Gun Range Time! If they love to shoot, whether it’s recreationally, practicing for hunting or competition… A gift certificate to your closest or their favorite range is a great idea!

 

Best Season Openers

April 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Pittsburgh Pirates Home Opener

Pittsburgh Pirates Home Opener

Written by Pro-Staff Team Member Matt Truesdale

On Thursday, April 7, I had the opportunity to continue a tradition started by my hunting buddies and me - the tradition of attending the Pittsburgh Pirates home opener.  This is the 3rd consecutive year that we have been to the home opener, and regardless of whether the Buccos win or lose, it is still an extremely enjoyable time. Nothing can compare to a full day of tailgating in the parking lot with the American and Jolly Roger flags flying high, supporting our favorite ball club at one of the best ball parks in the country and throwing down a Primanti’s sandwich with an IC Light.

As the game rolled into the bottom half of the 7th and we sang “take me out to the ball game” I began to wonder what are the year’s best season openers?  Here at Collegiate Camo, we not only get pumped up for the start of hunting and fishing seasons, but for athletic seasons as well!  Because of the bonded love affair of outdoorsman sports and athletic sports being a common trend that we all share, I have put together what I consider to be the most anticipated opening seasons of each year from the least popular to most popular.

12)  NHL and NBA: I understand that these two sports are completely different, especially during playoffs in the post season.  Heck, the playoffs for both of these leagues are an entirely new season and a different more exciting game.  Even though I am a fan of the NHL I just cannot get as excited for the first game of the year like I can other sports.  I’ll just wait for the start of the playoffs…

11) Small Game: Have you ever felt that heart pounding, nervous, exciting feeling as a big fox squirrel slowly comes down the path toward you?  Yeah, neither have I.  Although I do enjoy small game hunting and the camaraderie with my friends, small game is more of a thrown together afternoon activity than anything else.  Even grouse and pheasant are more annoying and frustrating than they are enjoyable to hunt.  But seriously, have you ever heard of “squirrel drives”?  Exactly.

10) College Basketball:  How long is it until March?  This year VCU proved that the college basketball regular season does not matter and the big tournament is the only excitement worth watching.  Yes, the end of the season tournament may possibly be one of the most exciting post seasons in any sport, but the opening game is just a tease until all the madness.

9) Waterfowl: I will hand it to the waterfowl hunters.  I have yet to get fully enveloped into the sport, but these guys are crazy.  Blinds, decoys, boats, face paint, calls, you name it.  This season requires a lot of attention to detail, equipment, management and site location which could only lead to excitement on the opening day.  Seasons in, migration’s cancelled.

8 ) White Tail Deer, Archery: Why did I separate archery and rifle?  If you have to ask this question, than you must only hunt deer with a rifle.  There are not many feelings that come close to having a deer walk within yards from you, and the practice and preparation needed in order to slay a buck with a broad head.  Unfortunately, the first day of archery cannot quite contend with the first day of rifle.  Be sure to bring enough scent eliminator as the first of archery always seems to be too hot, sticky, and muggy.

7) NFL: The NFL opener is similar to a family reunion.  Every year there is a reunion, you generally see the same people, there is usually something or someone new that brings interest and then there is something or someone that embarrasses you.  The majority of NFL fans already know what they have regarding their teams.  The NFL opener is exciting, but the NFL opener lacks some of the glamour and anticipation of other season openers.

6) NASCAR: Yes, NASCAR.  I know you are all wondering how and why NASCAR is as high as it is on this list.  The answer is that the “Super Bowl” of NASCAR is the Daytona 500, the season opener.  You can disagree all you want, but you cannot argue the fact that Daytona 500 is a hugely popular event full of everything needed for a great opening day.

5) Turkey: The elusive thunder chicken is by far one of the most frustrating and fun species to hunt.  Combine this birds characteristics with the preparation it takes to bag a bird and 2 opening seasons throughout the year, you can’t beat turkey hunting.  No other species or sport has 2 openers in a year, and doubling proves this sport aint no turkey.

4) MLB: Our nation’s pastime.  The spring weather.  Smells of popcorn, hot dogs and beer.  9 innings of excitement and a packed house.  The MLB season opener matches and exceeds the excitement, anticipation, and popularity of any sport.  Yes, the 162 game season is long, but every game counts in the attempt of achieving one of the few post seasons spots.  The fact that the MLB opener does not just bring baseball back, but also brings back the warm weather and the thought of summer heralds the MLB opener high in this list.

3) Trout:  The opening day of trout season may be different for many people throughout the country.  But where I come from, the trout season opener is a right of passage for children and a day long family fun event.  Everyone, literally everyone comes out to the streams for the first day of trout, which does have a drawback.  Although some lines may get tangled between those fishing, the trout opener continues to be a spectacle year in and year out.  Each cast of the line holds suspense of the possibilities of pulling back a 24 inch brownie, or just a 8 inch rainbow.

2) College Football: Do I honestly have to make an argument for this one?  College football is simply American and brings an eruption of pent in anticipation into each fall from the past season.  Every year is different in college football.  Unlike professional sports, lineups and rosters change on a routine basis, keeping the game fresh and new.  But most importantly, with the college football comes the tailgating.  Other sports have their loyal and crazy fan base that do provide a spectacle of amazement when showcasing tailgates, but college football fans do it best and on a larger scale.  Every school has their traditions, their massive tailgates and their crazy fans.  Walk around any college stadium on any home Saturday afternoon and you will find the most die hard and loyal fans of any sport.  The fans and tailgaters could only relate to college football as having the best season opener of any athletic sport.

1) White Tail Deer, Rife: I should not have to explain why.  There is no more popular, exciting, anticipated day for any outdoorsman than the first day of rifle season for deer.  There is nothing more important for an outdoorsman than bringing home the venison and bragging about the previous days hunt over the water cooler at work.  The first day of rifle for deer is essentially a national holiday in most areas.  No other season opener is built into work and school schedules, allowing individuals the day off to continue the American tradition and to spend time with family members at camp.

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