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.

Posts about Recreation

Man vs. Dog

Posted by: Andrew Vavra Updated: March 15, 2011 - 4:35 PM

 

It’s my belief that the best dog trainers have an unspoken form of communication with their dogs. Whether going through conditioning exercises or hitting the fields after feathered foe, their brains almost seem to work on similar wave lengths as they display an uncanny ability to be on the same page. Now I’m not suggesting that to be a great trainer you must also have the mental capacity of Harlan Pepper from “Best in Show,” but perhaps the phrase “keep it simple” isn’t so stupid after all.

As a younger dog trainer, it can be somewhat frustrating to see the ease of success other more experienced trainers have and I’ve come to the conclusion that their ability to train dogs is wholly dependent upon their skill to think like a dog and to know how a dog sees the world and the challenges set before them.

Therefore, to help me begin “thinking like a dog” I’ve started writing down various scenarios and what I’m thinking versus what I believe my dog is thinking:

Retrieving Bumpers in the Yard:

(ME): The neighbors are outside watching… please just return this to hand and don’t make me look like a fool…

(Beau): Ooooh! People! Do they have treats? I smell treats.

(ME): Crud.

 

Working the “Stay” Command at Longer Distances:

(ME): Ok, here we need to simulate me sneaking up on a duck slough and then releasing her after shots are fired.

(Beau): Ok, if I just slowly creep up on my belly every time he turns his back he’ll never know I’m moving…

(ME): She's lucky she's so damn cute.

 

Missing a Shot in the Field and Inadvertently Practicing the “No Bird” Command:

(ME): #&*@!

(Beau): #&*@!

As you can see, at least we’re on the same page when it comes to one thing. It’s a start.

The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra.

 

 

 

When both handler and dog are in sync, it's a beautiful thing.

When both handler and dog are in sync, it's a beautiful thing.

Why I Hunt

Posted by: Andrew Vavra Updated: January 7, 2011 - 10:27 AM
While recently throwing a few back at the local tavern, I started a friendly conversation with a gentleman who eventually circled back to “Oh, so you hunt and stuff? I’ve never tried, but I don’t have a problem with it.” I immediately found it interesting that a non-hunter felt the need to qualify his comment with “but I don’t have a problem with it.” Is the average American’s perception of hunting so jaded that even people who don’t partake in it (but do support our rights in this time honored tradition) feel like the rest of the world is against it? Or do they not have a good enough grasp on the size, strength and history of which our hunting community is enveloped? Either way, at least I know why I hunt.
Have you ever felt the mind rattling nerves of trying to re-nock an arrow as a big buck nervously stands and wonders what made the leaves behind him explode from the forest floor? Has your heart ever stopped for a split-second as a rooster gave way to flight just inches from your boot? Can you still hear your friends heckling you for missing what should have been an “easy” shot at a late season Mallard? If you’re able to answer "yes" to any of these, then you understand the rush that comes with the highs and lows of hunting. But even so, I’d make a guess that if someone were to ask you why you hunted, you wouldn’t answer with any of those descriptions.
Chances are, if you hunt it’s because it’s in your blood. You were raised in an environment in which Mother Nature was your classroom and Respecting the Land, Rejoicing in Moments Afield, and Reveling in Camaraderie were the “Three R’s” you studied. Anyone can ride a bike to work and claim to understand and care about our natural world, but only hunters understand what it really means to be a part of it.
I enjoy paddling wilderness areas, camping in the backcountry and hiking remote trails, but nothing makes me feel more alive and more connected to the world around me than giving into my primordial urges and putting wild game on the table. It’s that escape from society’s “reality” into what is truly real that brings me back year after year.
Next time you’re walking through a remote field with gun and dog in tow, simply stop moving for a second. Take a deep breath and take in the sights and sounds. Remember that feeling because one day you might have to answer the question of why you hunt, or better yet, you might have to teach a young child why WE hunt.

 

"Remember that feeling because one day you might have to answer the question of why you hunt, or better yet, you might have to teach a young child why WE hunt.

"Remember that feeling because one day you might have to answer the question of why you hunt, or better yet, you might have to teach a young child why WE hunt.

 

Rent-A-Bird Dog?

Posted by: Andrew Vavra Updated: December 7, 2010 - 2:09 PM

Letting a friend or family member borrow the dog you raised since puppyhood can be a gratifying, yet taxing experience.

Letting a friend or family member borrow the dog you raised since puppyhood can be a gratifying, yet taxing experience.

This past weekend was a harrowing adventure for my bird dog Beau, unfortunately I was 300 miles away from the action. Sitting in my apartment in Saint Paul, Minnesota I was relegated to checking my phone for text message updates pertaining to the pheasant hunting action in North Dakota. Not Exactly a dream scenario for me, but it was one I knew I’d eventually have to put up with.

Being a semi-broke college grad, I was lucky enough to have my dad give me a helping hand when it came to financing and training my pup. However, with this help came the caveat that he would be allowed to use her services a few times throughout the year. In the beginning I was so excited to bring home my own “tiny terror” (the nickname she earned for being a drywall chewing champ), that I gladly signed the dotted line and gave dad my blessing to borrow Beau at his discretion.

Little did I know how much worry and angst this would cause me. Being right behind your dog as he or she pushes through shoulder high snowdrifts or as they accidently fall through the ice on a frigid morning is one thing, but reading about your dog doing this is completely different. I think I finally understand my mom’s old saying that she “hoped for the best but anticipated the worst.”

 

 

Hoping for the best, I had to remind myself that I did indeed trust my dad’s judgment when it came to the situations he’d be presenting Beau with. However, could I trust Beau to treat him just as fairly? Beau and I had spent most of the summer and fall training and learning from one another. Building that special bond between you and your hunting dog doesn’t happen overnight, but when it does it’s truly remarkable. With the simple nod of the head or a slight puckered whistle she could decipher more from me than my hunting buddy could understand from a full sentence. Needless to say, many emails and phone calls about how Beau hunted were shared before she loaded up for the weekend.

All I wanted was for both parties to come back with tails wagging and smiles flashing, and they did. For the first time in years my dad was able to hunt behind a dog he could work with and he couldn’t have been happier. Their game bags were a little light by the end of the weekend but that didn’t damper the mood of man or dog, because it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself if you’re lucky enough to spend time afield.

Will I ever feel comfortable renting out my best friend? Probably not, but if it makes my dad happy then I can live with that – as long as his cell phone has service.

 

Seeing the dog you helped train bring a smile to someone's face can be a very rewarding experience.

Seeing the dog you helped train bring a smile to someone's face can be a very rewarding experience.

It’s the Middle of February, Do You Know Where Your Shotgun is?

Posted by: Andrew Vavra Updated: February 11, 2010 - 2:04 PM

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again. Punxsutawney Phil has cursed us with a few more weeks of winter, the action on the ice rink is heating up and men are thumbing through Hallmark greeting cards while cursing half-naked bow and arrow wielding angels. It’s true, February is in full swing and I’m wondering: Do you know where your shotgun is?

February is supposed to be the month in which you express your affection for those who you care for the most, and who (or what) treats you better than your shotgun? Take a moment to ponder this. It puts food on your table, a smile on your face and it won’t ask you to take out the trash. So why not show some offseason affection to your trusty scattergun? As with any other relationship, a little TLC here and there will pay dividends for you in the long run.

Here are some tips for keeping your gun in top condition while in storage:

  • Thoroughly clean your gun with bore solvent.
  • Once cleaned and wiped down, apply a thin coat of gun oil to the metal interior and exterior components to prevent rust from forming.
  • Wipe down synthetic stocks with an all purpose household cleaner (such as 409) and thoroughly dry.
  • If you have a finished or wooden stock, use a furniture spray and wipe completely dry. Once dry, examine for cracking or wear-and-tear. You may want to consider applying a paste wax to increase your gun's longevity.
  • If you have a gun safe, place any type of dehumidifying wand or gel pack in it to remove moisture from the air.
  • Remember, moisture is your gun’s greatest enemy and the leading cause of corrosion and missed shots (I may have made that last one up, but you get the point).

Do you have any other firearm storage tips? Your gun put up with your abuse all season long, now show it some love.

It’s the Middle of February, Do You Know Where Your Shotgun is?

Posted by: Andrew Vavra Updated: February 11, 2010 - 2:04 PM

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again. Punxsutawney Phil has cursed us with a few more weeks of winter, the action on the ice rink is heating up and men are thumbing through Hallmark greeting cards while cursing half-naked bow and arrow wielding angels. It’s true, February is in full swing and I’m wondering: Do you know where your shotgun is?

February is supposed to be the month in which you express your affection for those who you care for the most, and who (or what) treats you better than your shotgun? Take a moment to ponder this. It puts food on your table, a smile on your face and it won’t ask you to take out the trash. So why not show some offseason affection to your trusty scattergun? As with any other relationship, a little TLC here and there will pay dividends for you in the long run.

Here are some tips for keeping your gun in top condition while in storage:

  • Thoroughly clean your gun with bore solvent.
  • Once cleaned and wiped down, apply a thin coat of gun oil to the metal interior and exterior components to prevent rust from forming.
  • Wipe down synthetic stocks with an all purpose household cleaner (such as 409) and thoroughly dry.
  • If you have a finished or wooden stock, use a furniture spray and wipe completely dry. Once dry, examine for cracking or wear-and-tear. You may want to consider applying a paste wax to increase your gun's longevity.
  • If you have a gun safe, place any type of dehumidifying wand or gel pack in it to remove moisture from the air.
  • Remember, moisture is your gun’s greatest enemy and the leading cause of corrosion and missed shots (I may have made that last one up, but you get the point).

Do you have any other firearm storage tips? Your gun put up with your abuse all season long, now show it some love.

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