Fish / Hunt Swap Stories & New Friends

March 23, 2009 by  

By Chris Hustad


It’s 2:30 a.m. on a cold, April Saturday morning. I’m sucking down coffee to make up for the lack of sleep as I pull out of Fargo. We wandered almost 2 hours from home the night before scouting, only to turn around and do it again 6 hours later. But we were excited. Reports were that the birds were on the move, and there were plenty of birds in our cornfield that evening. I noticed we were the first vehicle to arrive as we pulled into the field approach. Soon within minutes a vehicle showed up, than another and another.

9 hunters came out to hunt that morning, and this was the first time many guys would meet each other. You can see a little hesitation as it’s 4:30 a.m. and we’re all a little dazed, and it can be an awkward time to meet somebody. We all shake hands with one another, stating each other’s name as you normally would the first time you meet; but than they state their Nodak Outdoors screen name from the forum and suddenly we’re not strangers any more. For all of us, we’ve been talking over the forum for over a year and you can get to know a lot about someone’s personality in that amount of time. And we’ve all got stories as we’re making our own, never a dull moment with our crew. We had a fun hunt that day, and it was made possible via the Internet.

It’s pretty tough these days to not be affected by the Internet in some shape or form. It’s changed the lives for many more than they know it at times, myself included. If you’re reading this than you’re just like the rest of us; a group of outdoor junkies. Whether it’s 8 a.m. at work, a lunch break, a break from class, regular night, a late night, whatever…you’ve obviously got hunting or fishing on your mind. But hey, you’re in the right place, the Internet is rich in outdoor content and you can’t read or interact with it all no matter how hard you try. But if you spend enough time on particular web sites, you meet and become friends. I’ve met so many great people from the Internet I’ve lost count. Many of them are now my regular hunting or fishing partners, or acquaintances of a few trips a year. We come from all walks of life, we agree to disagree on many issues, but that’s not important when we’re out. We all love the outdoors.

Here’s a couple interesting experiences I’ve had:

I  became a field editor for another major website in 2000 as I lived temporarily in Washburn, North Dakota away from my home of Fargo. It was the closest I’ve ever been to wildlife on a regular basis and I couldn’t get enough of it. I’ve always taken pleasure in sharing my love for the outdoors, and as a result I’ve opened invitations to many to come out and hunt or fish with me. I put out a “trade a hunt” on the forum and I got a response from a guy out of St. Paul by the name of Robert Langager. He grew up in North Dakota, but moved away to Minnesota and later to North Carolina. He had already taken a trip that year and his party had some bad luck with the timing of the migration. He had an extra week so we planned to meet up and hunt. Needless to say Robert was a straight shooter and everyone enjoyed his company (Good old RC…hehehe – This has been a Nodak Outdoors inside joke). I remember seeing him mesmerized as flocks of Canadas appeared out of nowhere through a blizzard and into our laps in the decoy spread that cold Sunday morning. He just couldn’t get enough. We still spend at least one trip a year hunting in the fall or spring, hopefully more in the future.

I  have been active in Internet forums for about 6 or 7 years, mostly outdoor forums. If you browse around a lot, you find yourself seeing the same people over and over again. In the early days, there wasn’t many ND boys on national sites, so when I saw my first fellow “Fargoan”, I thought I’d drop him a line and say hello. Well, that person turned out to be Zach Herrmann (a.k.a. Decoyer from the forum). We had stayed in touch as I started my first website (some of you might remember my old Dakota Outdoors site), and he was one of the first to sign on here at Nodak Outdoors. Needless to say we both have a passion for waterfowling, or, maybe a twisted infatuation. But hey, is that a bad thing? I had always thrown around that I wanted to get up to Saskatchewan to hunt one day, but for some reason it never came together.  Until one day Zach dropped me a line asking if I wanted to go, obviously a no-brainer for me. I ended up spending 4 days hunting with Zach, his Father Monte (a.k.a. Field Hunter) and Jason Phillips (a.k.a. duxnbux). Monte and Jason were also acquaintances of the Internet who turned out to be friends. To make a long story short (for more information, check out Saskatchewan Goose Hunting ), it was one of the most amazing trips on memory for waterfowl. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the Internet.

Lastly, was a more recent acquaintance from the site by the name of Jon Madison (a.k.a. Madison). There was a controversial thread in a forum that became pretty heated. Jon was kind of alone on his opinion while others lined him up and took shots. Well I agreed with Jon and I chimed in with my supporting opinion. As a result we ended up emailing one another chuckling over the whole incident, and it turned out we both had similar outdoor interests. I am an extreme novice to musky fishing and Madison rarely fished anything else all summer long. At the same time, Madison had an interest in North Dakota waterfowling and had limited knowledge on where to go. So we decided to trade opportunities.  He came out a couple times a year in the fall and spring for goose hunting, I traveled out to his neck of the woods in Minnesota in the summer for a chance at a “big skee”. What more can I say? I landed my first musky last summer (38”), and Madison got in on some great honker and snow goose hunting. We still keep in touch weekly, and I’m very excited to get out again at a chance at a 40”+ musky (Madison claims I’m going to get a 50”+…I crossing my fingers buddy!). Once again, a great friendship I owe to the Internet.
I  could write for hours about some of the great experiences I’ve had over the years. Take a look at the pictures as these are only a handful of those I’ve met over the past couple years. The people I meet, the stories I hear, the bloopers we witness and still laugh about. There will be plenty more to come over the next year, that’s for certain.  We’re finalizing a Nodak Outdoors Trap team, looking into some fishing tournament possibilities, and much much more (time allowing of course). There’s also a new section in the forum, Trade a Hunt or Fishing Trip.  This will give others the chance at the same experiences I’ve shared with others over the years. Give it a try, there can’t be many downsides to new outdoor experiences.


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