Category: Travel

In the Thick of It: My First Hunt

There I was, in the thick of it. The sun peeking between the hills in front of us. My partner Geoff – an experienced coyote hunter – is whispering we need the sun on our backs. Make it harder for prey to spot us. Besides, we don’t want the sun in front of us hindering our vision.

I have never hunted before and will not get into why. Geoff is a friend and has tried to get me out for years. He finally convinced me I had to at least try. So, after several weeks of research, including the importance of your stand, the unpredictability of coyote behavior and reviews of some top notch rifle scopes of which you can find here, there I was, in the thick of the hunt in Coulee County, Montana.

Team HuntingWe spent the drive (and the days before) setting up the ground rules. As most hunters tend to go solo, it is important that teams be on the same page. Hunters have individual styles and a responsibility to avoid even the smallest conflict. The worst that could happen is you end up not catching prey tripping over each other. At worst, you shoot somebody. I was taking notes. Geoff told me to knock it off. In the wild, I would not be able to refer to notes. Any unnecessary movement – even leafing through a small notepad – was forbidden. In fact, limited movement and noise was at the top of the list. Also on the list was shooting etiquette, establishing the zone of fire for each of us and who the primary shooter would be, the person who got first crack at prey. Geoff decided that should be me.

We had already scouted the location, using Google Maps and Geoff’s own familiarity with the region. Once out the truck, we checked our gear and got into our camo. We did our surveillance: looked for tracks and bodies of water (you’re more likely to come across coyotes as they eventually need to quench their thirst) and scoped out hazards like areas we do not want to shoot towards.

hunting standGeoff helped me find my stand (basically the spot where you wait) before setting up his. We were both on our stomachs, weapons ready, hiding in tall weeds. Our calls and decoys were about 30 yards to the west. When I signaled I was ready, Geoff activated the “calling,” a mimicked cry of an animal in distress. Any coyote, figuring an easy meal was waiting, would seek the call.

Geoff called for about 10 minutes, took a break, started again. We were on the ground almost an hour before my partner signaled me. And there it was. A coyote focused on the call, obviously cautious, but looking off toward the decoy. I saw the sunlight in its eyes, creating that alien glow that you usually see in photographs. I was holding my breath. When I let it go – surely as quiet as I am sure the coffee on my desk is still hot – the coyote looked right at me. Its eyes still aglow. My head was fully covered (cap, hood, face mask), supposedly blending into the background, but the animal found my eyes. And it ran. Long before I even remembered I had a rifle.

My first hunt. Geoff has not let me forget how I screwed that up. But I didn’t. More than anything, the brief encounter made me realize how I really feel about hunting.



A Couple of Places That Taught Me Valuable Lessons:

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I would like, today, to share memories from a couple of places I visited during the days when I was starting out as a corporate journalist. I like to think that I visited these places to get inspiration about my future as an RJ with a journalism degree and indeed, I did get inspired that it was time the public was made aware of the truth of corporations and how they operated:

Silicon Valley

I visited Silicon Valley because it was, in my opinion, the place where the future of big business lay – eight years later, I’m glad I made that trip, because today, computers, smartphones and ‘apps’ have become the biggest money spinners and the most dominant corporate companies are Apple, Intel, Google, Facebook and so on. My original plan had to been to get interviews from a couple of entrepreneurs. I was supposed to meet them both at Buck’s of Woodside a restaurant famed as a focal point for the sort of people I intended to meet and interestingly, the place where services such as Tesla and Hotmail were incorporated.

The interviews went great and did raise some interesting points – one of the interviewees told about how he was starting a new software company, he believed that the best way to reach the public was to resort to social media and blogging, and really inform the people about what his service could do for them rather than using billboards and television commercials, which might figure into his marketing campaign later. Tech start-ups should definitely take this advice since it won’t cost them much and they’ll be addressing a global audience given their product/service is something unique. In fact, I’ve frequently quoted his words in my radio shows since then.

While there, I decided to kill some time by visiting a famous landmark since I was something of a tech geek. The HP Garage, the place where Silicon Valley was born, was my intended destination. In terms of inspiration for a business journalist, I could think of no better place than this – a small rental house that produced a dominating tech giant and an inspiring story that led to so many others.

Wall Street

 

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A trip to Wall Street is recommended for all commerce students, and corporate journalists won’t do wrong in visiting it either. The truth is that this place is a hotbed for the most aggressive kind of marketers – stockbrokers. These individuals represent the zenith of classical marketing where company stocks are sold to names written on call lists using flashy jargon and marketing ploys, the customers are identified by the numbers on the list and nothing more. I was the proponent of the notion that each customer should be thought of as a whole informed ‘audience’ and be present with the whole truth regarding a service and Wall Street was the exact opposite of my ideology. However, I still believed that it was a good idea to gain an insight into the flaws of the present corporate system before trying to make an effort to change it, which is why I signed on for a trip to Wall Street with the touring company ‘The Wall Street Experience’.

The tour was thoroughly informative, with the tour guide being a former stockbroker himself; our tour group got to see all the famous landmarks that are representative of corporate America – the Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve and, of course, Wall Street itself. We were told actual stories about how the whole financial backbone of the US was functioning and, for me, these stories did shed some light on what drives corporations after they have gone public.

I was so impressed by the tour that I signed up for the more intense ‘Financial Crisis’ tour the company offered which was meant for industry professionals! The tour gave detailed information regarding the financial crisis and the factors which contributed to it. The ruthlessness involved in the day to day life of a successful Wall Street Trader was shocking and instructive at the same time. I learned about technical terms such as Credit Default Swap (CDS) and Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) that represented financial transactions that brought down entire institutions.

My trip to Wall Street strengthened my resolve to inform the consumers about how best to make a decision regarding the purchase of a product or service. I had seen first-hand how easily so many people were swayed to invest into a company by the honeyed words of stockbrokers and I decided it was time people realized the truth.