Welcome to the host site for outdoor writer Steve Sorensen’s “Everyday Hunter” columns. For a complete index of all columns, go to EverydayHunter.com.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Three-Time Winner of “Best Newspaper Column"

Steve Sorensen (left) receives the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association award for Best Newspaper Column from Tom Tatum, President of POWA. The article appeared in the Warren Times Observer on November 27, 2010.

Bedford, PA – For the third time in six years, Outdoor writer Steve Sorensen won “Best Newspaper Column” from the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association. The award was presented in Bedford, PA on May 11 at the organization’s annual conference. Previously Sorensen won the same award in 2006 and 2008. The POWA “Excellence in Craft” awards program honors writing, artwork and photography in several categories. Each award is reviewed by a panel of judges, all independent of the POWA.

POWA’s “Best Newspaper Column” award is sponsored by Hunters Sharing the Harvest (www.ShareDeer.org), a statewide charitable venison donation program which provides more than 750,000 meals annually to help feed the hungry.

Sorensen won with a column entitled “The Reason the Sign Says ‘Please Don’t Feed the Bears’,” published in the Warren Times Observer on November 27, 2010. By citing actual examples, the column details how feeding wild bears harms bears and makes them dangerous to humans.

“Of all the awards I’ve won, this is the most gratifying because Pennsylvania has so many daily and weekly newspapers, and so many great outdoor columnists –- the competition is very stiff,” Sorensen said.

POWA is the largest state outdoor writers’ organization in the nation. Sorensen lives in Russell, PA, serves as pastor of Pine Grove Christian Fellowship, speaks frequently at sportsmen’s banquets, and writes for a variety of regional and national magazines. His popular column called “The Everyday Hunter” appears in several newspapers. The award winning column can be read here, and most of Sorensen’s writing can be read at his website, www.EverydayHunter.com.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Shooting Organization You Never Heard Of

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, May 21, 2011.)

The NSSF has a beneficial impact
on every sporting goods
retailer large and small.
Lots of hunters think the National Rifle Association does a lot for them. And it does. As the chief defender of the Second Amendment, no gun rights organization is as large, or as effective. But the Second Amendment is not about hunting. It’s a statement of one of the civil rights recognized by our national founders, and it belongs to all of us. Freedom requires its defense.

But there is an organization supports hunting more forcefully than the NRA. You may not have heard of it. It’s the National Shooting Sports Foundation. For 50 years, the NSSF has been promoting, protecting and preserving the shooting sports. And not just the sport of hunting, but all shooting-related sports.

The NSSF promotes competitive shooting in high schools, collegiate programs and Olympic events. That includes rifle, handgun and shotgun sports. It includes biathlon, steel silhouette shooting, trap shooting and sporting clays.

How many people benefit from target shooting? More than 19 million Americans safely participate in some form of it. And the NSSF helps by promoting safety, supporting shooting ranges, providing educational videos, sponsoring seminars, and introducing new people to the shooting sports.

But the shooting sports are much larger than target shooting. They include hunting. The NSSF knows that hunters are the largest contributors to conservation, and pay the lion’s share for programs that benefit all Americans and all wildlife – not just game species. The American model of game management is by far the most successful in the world. It makes wildlife accessible to everyone, not just the rich. Recognizing that, the NSSF is part of a great network of wildlife conservation organizations.

The NSSF supports virtually every wildlife conservation group, from Ducks Unlimited to the National Wild Turkey Federation to the Izaak Walton League to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. It supports hunter safety through the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA), an organization that meets the needs and represents the interests of 70,000 hunter education instructors who teach hunter safety, ethics, and conservation to about 750,000 students annually across North America.

Through grant funding to state fish and wildlife agencies, the NSSF helps states expand hunting opportunities, keeps current hunters active and recruits new hunters with the goal of preserving the future of America’s hunting heritage.

Beyond that, the NSSF serves as a trade organization for the shooting sports industry. Its biggest event is the annual Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show). The SHOT Show is not only the place where industry professionals gather to talk shop; it’s where everything new to the hunting and shooting world is introduced: firearms, ammunition, archery, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, camping, and related products and services. The show attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, and has a beneficial impact on every sporting goods retailer large and small.

The NSSF keeps hunters abreast of wildlife and hunting-related issues in every state, tracks legislation, and provides a wealth of research and information. It doesn’t compete with any organization or agency that helps hunters; it complements all of them.

This space permits me only to scratch the surface of what the NSSF does. A quick glance at the website (www.NSSF.org) shows a wealth of information that would take weeks to digest. Check it out. Every hunter and shooter should be familiar with the work that the NSSF does because in the long run, we are its beneficiaries.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Spring Gobbler Goof-Ups

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, May 7, 2011.)

A turkey hunter who wriggles and
squirms won’t see many gobblers.
If you’re like most spring gobbler hunters, you’ve probably committed several gobbler goof-ups by now. Before the season is over, how many mistakes will hunters make as they hope to tote home a beard-dragging gobbler? Too many to count, and there are lots of ways to describe them.

The English language is abundant with words for mistakes: blooper, blunder, bobble, boo-boo, botch, bungle, and those are just the b-words! The list goes on with nouns and verbs galore – clunker, fault, flub, foul-up, error, gaffe, misstep, muff, slip up, stumble. They all apply to turkey hunting.

As if we didn’t have enough of our own words, we even borrow from the French, using their phrase faux pas, meaning “false step.” And we’re not finished making up new phrases – “my bad” is a recent innovation.

Whatever we CALL our mistakes, no one is as inventive in ways to MAKE mistakes as spring gobbler hunters. And the longer we hunt spring gobblers, the more ways we find to flub.

After you make your next mistake – and you will – look in the mirror. If you’re like me, odds are you’ll see a stupid turkey hunter looking back at you.

One almost universal mistake is that we call too much. We might not intend to, but we do it anyway. We want to make that perfect call. We get bored. We think we can force something to happen. We think we haven’t called enough. We want to try that call that our buddy said was a killer.

On the other hand, it’s possible to call too little, and allow a pretty little hen to come and take your gobbler away. Unfortunately, only the gobbler knows what’s too much and what’s too little.

Another mistake is that we call too loudly. While there is a place for loud calling, most real hens call softly. Turkeys have exceptional hearing, so always start out quietly. You can always turn up the volume. But call too loudly, and you can’t un-call that. Probably 90% of the sounds a hen turkey makes are soft. So, imitate her.

Sometimes hunters call too soon. When you do, the gobbler may arrive while you’re standing there planning your setup. Or, if you make too many quiet “tree calls” too early in the morning, before the gobbler comes off the roost, he’ll just stand on his limb and wait. Why should he come to the hen if the hen tells him she’s coming to him?

Fidgeting is a big failure. Turkeys have first-class optics, and will see the slightest movement at a long distance. The fact that you can’t see the turkey doesn’t mean the turkey can’t see you. So, a hunter who wriggles and squirms won’t see many gobblers. If you absolutely must adjust to that tree root under your bottom, or stretch a leg that went numb, or scratch your nose, follow this rule – move like a sloth.

Another slip up is to give up, which hunters often do because they assume the gobbler is gone. Just because you haven’t heard the gobbler for a half hour doesn’t mean it’s time to get up and go. A gobbler has all day, and often, he’s just waiting for the hen to make a move. The hunter needs to be more patient than the gobbler.

Hunters hesitant to hunt rainy days are making a mistake. Avoiding thunderstorms is a blunder. Gobblers often give their vocal cords lots of exercise in response to thunder.

Some hunters botch something even before opening day – they overlook patterning their shotguns, fail to do enough scouting, or neglect to practice calling.

We tend to helplessly and unwittingly customize our gaffes, over and over again, to each unique situation. We seem to find almost as many ways to stumble as there are situations in the turkey woods.

What’s the solution to all these mistakes? Yes, we need to learn from them and think of ways we could have changed the outcome. But wild turkeys are wild turkeys – one of the most unpredictable game animals.

We’ll never have all the answers, so the best advice I can give is that no matter what, getting out of bed to hunt turkeys is never a mistake! Keep at it, and success will come.