Andrew Vavra

Andrew Vavra is the marketing specialist at Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s national headquarters. Born and bred in Minnesota, he's a passionate sportsman who appreciates the thrills (and chills) that come with hunting, fishing and camping in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Bird Dog’s Brush with Law

Posted by: Andrew Vavra under Pets, Dogs Updated: May 27, 2011 - 8:36 AM

More days than not, I wake up in the morning and throw my dog, Beau, in the back of my old SUV and head to work. There are numerous studies that state having a dog around the workplace greatly improves employees’ morale and productivity, but I drag around the mutt for a much more selfish reason:  I want her to hit the fields running this fall, and lunch-break training sessions at the local park are a great way to accomplish this without giving up much free time.

Sounds like a great idea, right? I thought so too.

Recently, Beau and I rolled into the park’s lot and I put on her e-collar, slipped a lead over her neck and walked to the far end of the property to partake in another uneventful retrieving session, or so we thought.

About 10 minutes into practicing remote releases and the “whoa” command, a city police officer drove up the walking path and parked 20 yards away from us.

ME: Can I help you, Officer?

Officer: How’s it going? Do you know having your dog off leash here is against city ordinance?

ME: To be honest, yeah, that wouldn’t surprise me, but we’re 500 yards away from anyone and she has an e-collar on.

Officer: I see that, but that doesn’t count as a leash and I could write you a ticket. We’ll just consider this a warning, but other officers might not be as lenient.

ME: What about that spaniel I saw walking around with its leash dragging on the ground behind him?

Officer: Technically, it’s on a leash.

ME: You’ve got to be kidding me.

Officer: (Deadpan stare)

He wasn’t kidding me.

Many bird dog owners and their companions face similar “space” challenges. Are you an urban or suburban bird dog owner? Have you had trouble finding unrestricted areas to train, or gotten in trouble training your dog in a public area?

As for me, next time maybe I’ll just let Beau drag a 3 foot lead around…


Beau patiently waiting for her release from Dog-atraz.

Beau patiently waiting for her release from Dog-atraz.


The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever’s Marketing Specialist.

The Uncertainty of Using Bark Collars

Posted by: Andrew Vavra under Dogs Updated: May 3, 2011 - 9:33 AM



Two people and a 14-month old yellow lab living in a 1,000 square foot apartment isn’t necessarily ideal, but that’s exactly the situation my pup, Beau, and I will find ourselves in at the end of the month when we move into a new apartment. But this certainly isn’t a “woe is me” rant because in reality, most people don’t have the luxury of owning their own home and letting their dogs run free upon countless acres of woods and prairies. For the majority of us, city-living with bird dogs is as real as it gets.

There’s a whole host of issues when it comes to shacking up with a pooch in a big city. Everything from finding adequate training grounds to locating a bag of rawhides can be an adventure, but nothing has me waiting with as much anticipation as watching how Beau copes with the noise, or more accurately, how my neighbors deal with hers.

She’s not a loud dog by any means, but Beau knows she has a voice and isn’t afraid to use it. Will she bark at the sound of passing footsteps in the hallway? Will she whine every time I leave her alone in the apartment? Only time (and neighbors) will tell, but I’ve already thought of purchasing a bark collar just in case. But to be honest, I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with the idea of using one.

Call me soft, but is it fair to strip a dog of its voice? It just seems a bit unnatural to have a dog that doesn’t bark to be let out of a kennel before the hunt, or one who doesn’t whine just a bit when you stop scratching its favorite spot. After all, I bought a Lab, not a Basenji.

When it’s all said and done, I’ll have to see how vocal she is in this new setting and then make the appropriate decision. But until then, what’s your experience with bark collars? Have you used them? If so, did it have any negative effects on your pup?

The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever’s Marketing Specialist.

An Open Apology to Chipmunks

Posted by: Andrew Vavra Updated: April 25, 2011 - 4:45 PM



As a young child engulfed by suburbia, I was forced to watch my dad head for the secluded woods and waters every weekend during the fall. Left to tend to the homestead (i.e. watch cartoons at barely audible levels as to not wake mother), I considered myself lucky enough to inspect the goose, duck or deer he’d hopefully return with.

This was all fine and dandy at first, but every 9 year old man has a breaking point. So began the clamoring for my own “big boy toy” – the Red Ryder BB Gun. With the BB gun, came trips out to Grandma and Grandpa’s where targets (both moving and stationary) were dialed in with unwavering enthusiasm. I wish I could say this is where my love of bird hunting came from, but Grandma made it painfully clear that her song birds were to be left alone. The chipmunks, however, were fair game. So while recently thinking back to those days, I felt it appropriate to apologize to those clueless chipmunks for the years of abuse they endured.

Dear Chipmunks,

First of all, don’t be scared. My leather tasseled, lever action BB gun is nowhere to be found. In fact, I’ve put those long summer days filled with lemonade and chipmunk carnage long behind me. I’m writing you today to offer a sincere apology for the “hunts” I put you through in the past. It’s taken me years to realize the senselessness of my actions, but at that time you were content in stealing bird seed and making nests under the old rickety stairs. Something had to be done, and I thought it was my duty as a grandchild to man-up and take action against your army of stripped rodents. Admittedly, my aim was true and justice was swiftly served but this doesn’t change the fact that I feel somewhat bad for my actions. After all, you guys are pretty cute when your cheeks are all puffed out… So please accept my “better late than never” peace treaty. Hopefully now you won’t have to look at me with such distain when I visit the grandparents for the holidays.

With Respect,


P.S. I have a new dog you haven’t met. She’s really fast and I can’t be held accountable for all of her actions. Just thought I’d give you a heads up…

Sorry guys, consider our relationship a rite of passage. Just be glad I never stumbled upon a good chipmunk recipe.

The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever’s Marketing Specialist.

An Idiot’s Guide to Turkey Hunting

Posted by: Andrew Vavra under Recreation, Outstate Updated: April 18, 2011 - 8:53 AM


Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!

Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!

Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!




Growing up, I remember sitting 3 feet away from the television while watching an old worn-out turkey hunting VHS. The tape was scratchy and the music and dialogue constantly faded in and out like a Jimmi Hendrix wah-wah guitar pedal.  I was captivated.

The host was a scraggly-looking bearded man decked head to toe in camouflage while talking about turkeys in a lazy southern drawl that would put anyone to sleep. And heck, as fascinated as I was, maybe I did doze off a time or two, because for the number of times I’ve watched that video I don’t think I can remember a single piece of useful information. Perhaps my inattention to the details is why I’m such an amateur when it comes to bagging Butterballs.  But part of me likes it that way.

All of my hunts during the fall and winter are scripted out weeks in advance and leave little to the imagination. I know what deer stands I’m going to sit in. I know what areas I’m going to pheasant hunt and I can navigate my usual duck sloughs with my eyes closed. Not so when it comes to chasing turkeys. IF I even get picked in my area’s turkey lottery, it’s usually a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants sort of ordeal. In fact, here’s my (idiot’s) guide to turkey hunting:

  • Spend an hour trying to find the diaphragm call you haven’t seen in a year
  • Buy a new diaphragm call because you know you won’t use your box or slate call
  • Throw your bow hunting gear in the back of your truck while hoping it still fits (been a long winter, eh?)
  • Try out your new call during the 3 hour drive to your property the night before opening day
  • Convince yourself that it’s the call that sounds bad, not you
  • Arrive just in time to roost some birds (hopefully)
  • Wake up the next morning and discover the spot where you thought you roosted said birds is under 3” of water
  • Set up on the edge of a logging road and begin repenting for your previous year’s sins (simply praying for a bird isn’t enough)
  • At around 11am pay no attention to the  Tom sneaking 30 yards to your right as you bury your face in a bag of Jack Links Jerky
  • Try wooing the big Tom back to your decoy  using your diaphragm/jerky call (patent pending)
  • Try again next year

Bagging a bird is a bonus, playing cat and mouse is exhilarating, and not having any idea of how I’m going to mess up each year is what keeps me coming back.  When it comes to turkey hunting, I may be an idiot, but that’s half the fun.

The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever’s Marketing Specialist.

A Freezer Full of Remorse

Posted by: Andrew Vavra under Food and drink, Recreation, Locally-produced food Updated: April 13, 2011 - 3:40 PM



"Every bird we're lucky enough to slide into our game bag is more than just some meat covered in feathers."

"Every bird we're lucky enough to slide into our game bag is more than just some meat covered in feathers."



 A lot of blood, sweat and tears go into having a “successful” hunting season. From awakening before sun-up for ducks to blazing snow drift trails in search of roosters, if you’re a hunter, you know how much work it takes to claim a relatively small piece of meat.

Leaving for the weekend might ruffle the lady’s feathers from time to time. There’s always more work to do on Mondayswhen you disappear on Fridays. I don’t hesitate to spend $60 on gas and $20 on ammunition, and I still think I’m getting a better deal than those who spend $40 on a plate of “wild game” served over a white tablecloth.

So I’m sure you can understand the depression that set in this Sunday when I returned from a weekend getaway to discover a puddle of pinkish water pooled underneath my freezer.

What was once a cold freezer full of pheasants somehow morphed into a warm container of rotting roosters.

Good bye BBQ’d pheasant poppers, adios wild game dinners, sayonara pheasant pot-pie.

 As hunters, we have a unique connection with the land we traverse and the game we pursue. In our language, the phrase “wanton waste” holds a far worse place than any four letter word. We’re continually standing up and defending our passion of the pursuit as being true and dear to our existence. For these very reasons, every bird we’re lucky enough to slide into our game bag is more than just some meat covered in feathers.

What a waste.

Do vegetarians get this upset over a wilting head of lettuce? I doubt it.

The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever’s Marketing Specialist.


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