It's human nature to catalog life's events, and the end of the year seems a perfect time to do such a thing. Here's Anthony Hauck's "Best Of 2009 Volume I."
• Witnessing my Pheasants Forever colleague and friend, as well as co-host of the FAN Outdoors radio show, Bob St.Pierre, hauling in a monster muskie on Lake Minnetonka. Bob checks in at 5' 7", and the muskellunge was 48", so that means the fish was three inches longer than Bob is tall. Sorry Bob, just another one of my fish tales, because I'm jealous...
• My brother Sean's first ruffed grouse trip – all the way to Michigan's Upper Peninsula – resulted in some classic moments, many not suitable for print. However, my younger cohort is riding perfection when it comes to the thunder chickens, going a perfect three for three. Woodcock? Well, you said you don't like woodcock anyways, Sean.
• Pheasants Forever's Rick Young and I left the Twin Cities at 5:30 PM on Monday, November 9th headed to a Pheasants Forever event in Fort Benton, Montana. Naturally, our intent was to get there early so we could hunt. One Dairy Queen blizzard, five energy drinks, one fuel crisis, 1,000 miles and 16 hours later, we loaded our shotguns and headed out to hunt the Pheasants Forever Coffee Creek BLOCK Management (Montana's public access program) area. After all that, sliding my first Montana rooster into my vest was especially rewarding, an experience only intensified by dehydration and sleep deprivation-induced delirium.
• Sister Dana, welcome to the hunting party! Congratulations on your first rooster! You also make mean chocolate chip and banana pancakes. You'll make somebody a good wife some day, but just remember, they have to get by me first.
• The fall hunting beard will be an annual tradition for this outdoorsman. Three plus months sans razor has been what can only be described as a religious experience. Heck, I'm so attached to it – literally and figuratively – that I may make it a year-round look. And an ugly look at that.
• Line of 2009 has to go to Pheasants Forever's Andrew Vavra, who, after chastising me the evening prior for merely contemplating catching a few more zzz's and duck hunting at a later hour, dropped this doosy on me when I tried to rustle him at 5:30 AM: "We wouldn't be any less of men if we didn't go." Get up, Andrew!
• Friend Donald "Donnie" W. Kundel wearing a cowboy hat while dove hunting. Since I've got my 5-gallon lid now, look out dove fields, because next September 1 is the reunion tour for Montgomery (Donnie) and Gentry (me), live and in action. We at least put the "try" in country.
• A hard day of deer hunting. No deer, in fact, spotted. Nothing to raise the spirits quite like a Clint Eastwood flick. Thank you "Outlaw Josie Wales." Mom, Dad, Sean, Dana and cousin Jake and three hours of family time. Now that, as they say, is what I'm talking about!