Jeff Hughes

For 37 years, Jeff Hughes has been the managing partner at Wild Wings of Oneka private hunt club in Hugo. An avid outdoor sportsman, he's on the board of the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance and the North American Game Bird Association.

Posts about Family Fun

Passing on the Tradition

Posted by: Jeff Hughes Updated: November 17, 2009 - 2:44 PM

It has been quite a hunting season so far.  In early October I took my 13 year old grandson to North Dakota for some pheasant hunting, and waterfowl.  We had a blast!  He managed to bag his first North Dakota rooster about 25 minutes into the field, I don’t know who was more excited, him or me!  We made a set for ducks on a small farm pond, and we had a flock of about 100 green wing teal that came right in, and my grandson  managed to bag his limit, what a rush!!  We shared the memories of the hunt on the way home, and shared some personal thoughts, and stories, and I was amazed at how small the two generation gap had become on this trip.

 

I was delighted when Kody (my grandson) said that he would like to go deer hunting with me.  I picked him up the night before, and we both attended the obligatory meeting on the eve of season with all the old hunters that had been hunting together for 30 years.  He managed to get along with the old guys even though he was the rooky of the group, and the center of some joking!   On opening day we were up at o dark thirty, and in the stand waiting and trying not to shiver from cold, and excitement.  At 7:19 a young fork horn buck walked under the tree, and Kody slipped his gun over the railing in the stand, and one shot the animal cleanly.  I can tell you the adrenaline rush for me was unbelievable.  As I remember back over the years, of my personal hunting, I do remember all of the firsts I took, where I was, who I was with, and all the circumstances surrounding that particular moment.  Because I am in the hunting business, I have had the privilege of seeing many firsts in the fields, but nothing in  my forty year history of the hunting club business prepared me for the tremendous feeling of being with my grandson on his first!  It is indeed a tremendous privilege to be able to pass on this heritage from myself to my son, and now to my grandson.  I am proud to be a hunter, and play my part in the ongoing conservation of the species that occurs every year.  I am overwhelmed that my son, and my grandson will carry on this tradition long after I am gone.  I feel that I have done a good thing, and this tradition will be handed on for generations to come!

 

Yours for better hunting and shooting

 

 

    Jeff Hughes

Tales from a Game Bird Farm - The Time Bomb

Posted by: Jeff Hughes Updated: October 14, 2009 - 9:59 AM

As I am, I know you’re all anxious for hunting season!  During this time, I like to reflect on where things all begin.  It brings me back to when our farm operated as a hatchery and events that still make me smile.  Read on for some great humor, where it all begins....
The year is 1975, and we had a new employee that I was breaking in.  It was a Friday afternoon and back in these days Friday afternoon was transfer day.  Let me explain: In 1975 during the spring we hatched game birds at Wild Wings Hunt Club (a lot of game birds) primarily ring neck pheasants and mallard ducks.  On transfer day we had to take all of the eggs that were due to hatch out of the incubator and place them in covered hatching trays in the hatching machine.  We did this on Friday because all of the eggs were set to hatch on Monday our shipping day.  The reason that all of the eggs were transferred is because the hatching process is a messy ordeal with chick fluff, egg debris, and egg jelly all over the place.  So the hatchers had to be cleaned and disinfected every week after each hatch.  Now on transfer day, the eggs had been in the incubator turning and warming at a comfortable 99 1/2 degrees for about three weeks; sort of slow cooker, if you will.  Before the eggs went into the incubator, they were all cleaned and disinfected.  Now occasionally a cracked egg or an egg that had sucked in some bacteria would get put into the incubator.  When a cracked egg or contaminated egg gets into an incubator you end up with a very sensitive little time bomb waiting for the slightest movement to go off.

On this particular day Gary (he hadn’t earned his nickname yet) and I were transferring eggs into the hatching machine.  Gary was going on talking about something that had to do with chicks and how cool it was to see young birds, etc.  I mentioned to the young farm boy that he might want to keep his mouth shut and not talk too much during the transferring procedure.  I further explained to him about the potential ticking time bombs we were handling.  He did not heed my warning and continued on in his idle chatter.  I think you know where this is going!  Not five minutes after the warning did we have an egg explode it sounded like a 22 rifle had been fired in the hatchery!  The stench from the exploded duck egg was mortifying, and as I looked up I could see the young boy gagging and running for the door.  You guessed it most of the gelatinous goo, from the exploded egg, had gone right into his mouth.  After losing his lunch outside,  the transferring procedure continued in a reverent silence!  Using this experience as a teaching tool transfer days remained silent from this day forward.  You can’t put a price tag on this kind of fun!  Until we see you again we remain.  Yours for better hunting!  Jeff Hughes