Written By: Karen Syron, Flying B Ranch
I was 18 when I started ruffed grouse hunting in Northern Idaho near where I grew up in Coeur d’Alene, and to this day, it’s still my favorite place to hunt. I came to work here at the Flying B Ranch 17 years ago as a temporary job shortly after earning my degree in wildlife resource management. I had originally planned to continue as a wildlife researcher, but I just fell in love with the depth of the terrain here, the sheer variety of habitats I encountered on each hunt, and I decided to stay. Being able to share this place with other hunters, and watching them connect to the land, is truly a priceless experience.
About eight years ago, I joined one of our female clients–who had previously hunted only big game–for a day in the field with one of our most seasoned guides. She missed several birds that morning, and was feeling very discouraged, but we continued to provide instructions and advice, and she ended up folding a beautiful rooster on a difficult, fast-passing shot. She was so overjoyed that she cried and hugged the pointer who retrieved it, and that was when I realized more adult women really need these types of experiences. My own first outing for chukar was with a guide who obviously did not enjoy teaching new hunters–much less female ones–and provided such condescending advice that the whole day was ruined. Ever since witnessing the birth of that one client’s passion as a result of our positive reinforcement (she has since gone on to buy her own bird dog and join several destination hunts) I have been doing my best to mentor other women toward success in this sport.
Another thing I really enjoy about wingshooting is the relationship with the dogs. Working in the field with our ranch dogs–and now my own too–is what it’s all about for me. Seeing my puppy’s first time holding a point, or retrieving to my hand, or honoring their parents in the field, I just love every part of it. My dogs’ first birds are always my favorite hunts too. I prefer GSPs for many reasons–they’re smart and well-rounded, and can be trained beyond pointing and into retrieving; they have incredible stamina, and are capable of hunting all day given proper sustenance; and their short, sleek hair means less time grooming. Personally, ours are house dogs, and can go from hunting hard all day for guests to quietly lounging in front of the fire and then sleeping in bed with our daughters without skipping a beat. They make excellent family dogs.
Karen Syron is the Marketing Manager for Flying B Ranch in Kamiah, ID.