A Chilly Weekend in October

Last weekend was the first weekend of the Fall that actually felt like a Fall morning, There is something special about that “low 50s”/flannel shirt weather that gets a man of the outdoors like this one excited. You just want to stand out there in it. You open the front door and you just marvel at what a different world it is at this temperature, with trees changing and time afield close at hand. It was a perfect weekend, planned with lots of perfect things to do on such a weekend so close to the season.

Saturday, October 5 – Staring down the barrel of a… 7D?

Saturday would start out nice and cool and overcast – and stay that way for much of the morning. This particular morning would be the result of considerable anticipation. Months prior, at a family gathering, my step-brother-in-law (I know, a mouthful, right?) hatched an idea that I was all over.

IMG_1093editYou see, he is a professional photographer – and a darned fine one at that. He also happens to be an ex-Marine, and has an affinity for specialty firearms, as does yours truly. One conversation led to another, and it was determined that we would, at some point on a cool and overcast morning, get out some guns, some studio lights, and haul them up into the woods and do a military-esque photo shoot, just for fun, and to play around with some unique lighting situations.

This was way back in the spring, of course, and with a summer gone by, we found ourselves staring at the ideal weather, with previous night’s rains concluding just in time for us.

IMG_3348I wish I could cite details, settings, information on Chris’ work this morning. One thing I noted, even aloud… I like to think I take some nice photographs, and consider it a significant hobby, I sink money into it, I work to be better at it, I thoroughly enjoy it. But being with someone like Chris, who has such a deep understanding of lighting and exposure and how to really get the most out of what each shot has to offer – to get the most out of what his camera and equipment have to offer – left me feeling so very humbled. I felt like such a hack! I get lucky with my “photography” – I am fortunate that I can do wonderful things post-production. But I certainly marvel at those who approach the craft with a trained eye, an artistic approach, and a keen ability to put all of the pieces together at just the right moment.

IMG_1240editbwWe hauled lights and guns and equipment up into the woods and had a blast. We appreciated a perfect October morning, laughed and laughed while we did what other, less fortunate folks might call work, and were rewarded with some great shots, a few of which I will post here. I can’t recommend Chris enough for his work. I don’t need to, either. His work speaks for itself. If you need a photographer, I highly suggest taking a look at Chris’ website, his Facebook page, and give him a call.

And a few more pics from this shoot…

Sunday, October 6 – The perfect “Guys'” Day

Sunday was set to be just as exciting. With only two weeks remaining to get all the “ducks in a row” (pun intended, of course) before the waterfowl season would kick off with a youth hunt, the weeks leading up the opener would require careful and calculated planning. This was the final morning for wrapping things up. Next weekend is brush day, then go-time. So this was it. I woke up as eager to go as the previous morning. The plan was to meet three of the Kansas Outdoorsmen crew at the blind at 8:30.

IMG_3351-edit-smI thought I just might sneak out and get a jump on things, throw a little top-water around in the event there’s a hungry bass lurking nearby, and just generally sip my coffee with the cows and the ducks for a bit before the boys arrived. The sharp 15-20 mph breeze added to the romance of finalizing a new duck blind. With the bass firmly checked off, courtesy of Adam showing up early enough to sneak a couple casts in with me, and the coffee downed, pond full of teal marked and counted, we started our blind-work-day.

IMG_3365With four of us getting at it, we dug our heels in and attacked the list of remaining items as if we had a Chiefs football game and a few cold ones to get to. Which, as chance would have it, we did.

IMG_3364Paint buckets were cracked, ladders and rollers employed, and the application of layers commenced. Meanwhile, chicken wire would be applied to hold next week’s brush, as well as a host of minor tasks, cutting notches for guns, shelving and table space inside, fence posts sunk for a cow-proofing of barbed wire, etc. And in only a few quick hours, we were done. The blind needed only to be brushed next weekend to be officially “open for business”.

IMG_3375This was just the beginning of this day. Our plans from here were to gather at Nick’s (where there were ribs on the smoker waiting for us) for an afternoon of watching football while we take on a pretty sizable project – taking some of last year’s remaining duck and goose and turning it into this season’s blind snacks. We had the grinder, stuffing attachments, casings, spices, everything we needed, along with a four man wrecking crew. Using smoked bacon and Adam’s wild hog as our pork/fat sources, we proceeded to produce over 40 pounds of smoked snack sticks.

IMG_3378Nick followed his ribs with smoked wild turkey, and I added some Lake Trout from our September trip that I had brining from the previous day for added effect (this would be turned into an awesome smoked trout dip, a la the Barefoot Contessa {add garlic})… Word has it there was even a crossbow shoot-off near dusk.

IMG_3393These are the days that men like us relish. Days where so many of the things we enjoy, appreciate, and love, all become intertwined. They make sense of each other, and pull it all together. At the heart of it all, whether fishing, hunting, or simply being afield, it is the fellowship that, in the end, holds all such adventures together.

What an incredible weekend of being outdoors, with awesome people, all of whom represent the best of family and friends, and all of whom I love, respect, and appreciate. All of whom I look forward to spending more time with as “our” season unfolds in the coming weeks.

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