Tebowing – Late Season Pheasant Hunting

December 6, 2011 by  

By Nick Simonson

It’s December, it’s cold, it’s tough going in the field. But somehow, as the season wears on, I find myself out there, still grinding away, searching for a last chance bird or deer with a never-give-up attitude I hoped I’d have at this time of year, way back in October as I was headed back from a successful North Dakota pheasant hunting opener.
Pheasant HuntingAnd as we drove home from our weekend out west, my friends and I listened to the late game on Westwood One. Tim Tebow had been inserted as a last-ditch replacement on a struggling Denver Broncos team which was down by two touchdowns with 18 minutes left in the game. As a fellow Florida alumni, I had followed the second-year pro all through college as the Gators won two national titles and Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman. That evening, Tebow rallied Denver, but failed to convert on a last second pass into the endzone. But even in defeat, the crowd at Mile High resounded through the radio as chants of “TE-BOW, TE-BOW” echoed over the airwaves.
I petitioned my friend, who I often rib for being a Cowboys fan, to cheer for the Broncos this season with Touchdown Timmy at the helm, as the Vikings, my lifelong NFL team of choice, were tanking horribly.
“At 1-4, they’re going to need all the help they can get, and it won’t be much different than cheering for Minnesota,” he joked, allowing my request.
Since then, Tebow has brought the Broncos from a lost season to the top of the AFC West, capped with a last-second win over my hapless Vikings. In that span, Tebow has helped engineer five fourth-quarter comeback wins, taking six of seven since becoming the starter, thanks mostly in part to his heart, grit and determination. He has proved that it’s never too late to find success, no matter how bad things look, and no matter what the critics might say.
Watching the game with me this weekend was my buddy Adam from Grand Rapids, Minn. who had joined me for a pheasant hunt, despite this season’s low numbers. It was his first time afield for wild birds, having only partaken in a game farm hunt. Despite my warnings, and promise of no apologies for what lie in store, he headed out with my lab, Gunnar, and me, knowing that bird populations were down.
Early in the day, we flushed birds at a distance and one rooster provided me with a through-the-brush shot which I missed. We trod on through WMAs and private acres, putting the occasional bird in the air, with most being hens at this late date in the season. The day wore on and as I carried my gun across my shoulders lamenting the low numbers, a rooster surprised us. Adam’s shot rang out as the bird launched up from a brushy drain edge, and he toppled it on the far side. Gunnar made the retrieve up and down the gully and back, and dropped the bird at my feet. I loaded it in Adam’s vest, patted him on the back, and congratulated him on his first wild bird.
“That’s all I was hoping for,” he replied.
With one in the bag, we soldiered on to another WMA and walked the hillsides. Gunnar got hot and veered away from me, toward Adam and onto the downward slope of the hill. Forty yards ahead another rooster cackled as it flushed in front of the dog, a long tail flapping in the north wind as its wingbeats carried it up over the dried brown rearing grass.
Adam chased the bird with his first shot and toppled it with a second at long range. Gunnar was on the rooster in moments and it wasn’t long until Adam held it up with pride. We finished the walk out and headed back to the truck, riding high on Adam’s success resulting from a never-give-up attitude he had kept that day, despite the odds against us.
After a slow morning hunt the following day, we packed it up and headed in for the football game, and watched as that same spirit carried Tim Tebow and his Broncos to yet another improbable victory. As the commentators summed up the QBs performance, they came back to the same theme, that no matter how late it is, no matter how far he has to go, he gets it done with an unbreakable spirit. A perfect description too, of the attitude required on this short and challenging days of the late season and my friend’s successful first pheasant hunt…in our outdoors.


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