The Boots Story…

It seems that whenever I get a chance to visit with people that follow me on social media, they bring up “The Boots Story”.  It never ceases to amaze me just how much enjoyment so many people received from a story I shared about my old boots and how I acquired them.

So let me tell you…

I was living out West, taking some classes and getting my life together.  Dutch was just a pup, about 6 months old.  I was a farm hand for a family dairy in the area and I was flat broke.  I walked in to the sport shop to buy a pheasant stamp and stare at guns that I couldn’t afford… the old man behind the counter asked how my pup 32was doing and told me stories about his old bird dog sleeping on the floor next to him.  He wished me luck and as I turned to walk out he stopped me and pointed to my boots.

“Son, you can’t go out in those, I can see right through them.
If you’re gonna bird hunt out here, you need good boots!”

A little embarrassed, I thanked him and told him they were
on my Christmas list, a little over a month away. But that wasn’t good enough.  He brought me over to the boot rack, pulled a
set down and made me try them on.  I couldn’t even enjoy them while staring at the price tag.  I thanked him and assured
him that soon enough I’d be back for the boots.  But he shook his head and said he didn’t feel right.  “I’ll sell them to you at my cost, its cheaper than a tank of gas in your truck.  I don’t feel right knowing you’re out there without decent boots on your feet.”  What could I 1231111031a-2say to that?  I agreed and checked every pocket for cash, paid the old man and thanked him graciously.  Again I went to leave and again he stopped me.  He came around the corner with a pair of good
wool socks, stuffed them in the boots and said “Merry Christmas”.  I damn near shed a tear.  Packing my truck tonight I oiled the boots and thought about the old man and the gift he gave me.  I keep a record of my hunts and how much ground I’ve covered so I looked back and added it up.  He didn’t just give me boots, he gave me just shy of 3000 miles of memories…and counting.

Thanks for reading,

Joel D. Thorstad


Project Upland: A New Era

Our eyes have widened at videos of skies darkened by thousands of waterfowl descending on a decoy spread.  We’ve seen heart pounding clips of rutted-out 180″ whitetail bucks chasing does toward an awaiting hunter.  We’ve been inspired by great monarch bull elk bugling in the timber.

But for grouse hunters, arguably the most passionate about their game, how can we share the significance of the whole experience?  For a bird that you are fortunate to get even a glimpse of after the flush, how do we capture what it means to us?

The Ruffed Grouse Society has teamed up with Dangerous Cow Publishing to create an incredible, visually striking video series to do just that…and they really nailed it.

You can check the schedule of release dates and follow along here: Project Upland Website

Check out what’s new from The Ruffed Grouse Society

Treat yourself to a few more videos from the incredibly talented folks at Dangerous Cow Publishing, or visit them here.

Conservation: A New Year’s Resolution

I’ll admit, social media has become a guilty pleasure of mine.  To my surprise its become a very useful way to stay up to date on topics that pique my interest, especially relating to conservation.  Not to mention, I truly enjoy the ability to be globally connected with other sportsmen and women who share photos of their successful outings!image

With the New Year on the horizon, I decided to scroll through my Facebook page to recap all the fun I’d had this year… fishing opener, training dogs on sharptails in Wisconsin, taking home the new pup from U.P. Michigan, bird hunting in Montana, Theodore Roosevelt Nat’l Park, grouse camp in the Minnesota northwoods, a little late-season walleye action thrown in for good measure.  As I clicked my way through, I came across all the posts I’d shared to make my friends aware of upcoming banquet events for the Ruffed Grouse Society, news of Minnesota’s “Buffer Strip Bill” legislature, and quail habitat projects being completed down South.  As much fun as it was to see the number of “likes” my tailgate shots had acquired, I was disheartened to see my conservation-related posts seemingly passed over, untouched.

2012-10-19_11-11-34_846Without the conservation action described in those posts, the “tailgate shots” wouldn’t exist.  That’s very real my friend.  These organizations exist to create habitat which grows and supports a healthy population of game.  They also fight for your right to hunt, and create public land opportunities for you to do so.  Maybe most important of all, by giving us a healthy population to hunt, and a place to hunt, we are able to pass our sporting traditions onto a younger generation.image

This is my New Year’s Resolution folks- a call to action!  Attend a banquet, volunteer at an event, find a way to get involved and join an organization of your choice!  You’ll meet and network with a lot of great, passionate people and will be doing your part to ensure the next generation has the same opportunities as we do.  Heck, you might even get a hot tip on a new spot while you’re at it…

Happy New Year,


Visit the Conservation Page!

Midwest Hunting, Fishing, and Living.

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