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OPINION | ARKANSAS SPORTSMAN: Wish list includes varied quests

by Bryan Hendricks | January 14, 2021 at 2:16 a.m.

I want to do some things, and I can't think of a single reason why I shouldn't.

My goals have changed as I've aged. Killing deer with trophy racks doesn't interest me the way it did when I was younger. I yearned for it in my 30s and 40s because I believed that's something people in my profession were supposed to do. Now, my goal is to kill a buck that's five years old or more. Boone and Crockett antler scores do not figure into it at all.

I've had an open invitation for 17 years to hunt deer on a farm in northeast Iowa that nobody else hunts. It's about time to accept that invitation.

Unique experiences are more valuable to me these days, and I tend to gravitate toward people with shared values. Camaraderie, laughter and good stories are my trophies nowadays, and I've noticed that as I've met more people with that in common, I get more invitations to hunt prime properties.

That's what the Purple Hull Society is all about. Our appreciation for 16-gauge shotguns is merely a pretense for enjoying each other's company for a day. The actual Purple Hull hunts are the canvas on which the painting appears. Similar values bind me with people like Alan Thomas, Bill Eldridge, Rusty Pruitt and Ed Kubler.

I'd love to do a western and midwestern bird hunting tour with a friend or two and a full complement of double-barrel shotguns. I'd start with pheasants and quail in Kansas and work all the way to Washington and Oregon for sharptail grouse, Hungarian partridge, Gambel's quail and California quail. I have hunted chukar partridge in Idaho. I'd leave those for people with longer legs than mine.

I want to walk up birds on what's left of the western grasslands before the mining and energy industries gobble them up. I'd like to frame a few tail fans, especially one from a sage grouse, to go on my wall next to the two ruffed grouse fans that I got in Idaho in 2010. Oh my gosh, has it really been that long? Where has the time gone?

I would love to do a turkey hunting tour similar to the ones that Jackie Rauls and Wayne Richardson used to do every year. They started in Florida and went as far west as the seasons allowed. I would be happy to hunt just three or four states a season. I am organizing such a tour with a relatively new friend who sees it much as I do.

My turkey hunt in April at Crosstimbers Wildlife Management Area in Oklahoma really lit this fire. It was my most memorable turkey hunt, and I worked hard for a magnificent old Rio Grande gobbler. I would love to have a fan from a Merriam's gobbler for my wall, not for vanity, but for the stories it would tell.

I would love to fish for marlin again. A striped marlin I caught a few years ago in the Sea of Cortez was a lifetime highlight, and I dearly want to experience it again. Unless you have felt a marlin's raw power surging through a fishing rod and lost your breath watching a marlin tail walk while throwing its head wildly from side to side, there's no way to explain the allure.

The best part was the aftermath, celebrating with Jim Hendricks and Brandon Hendricks of Long Beach, Calif., two of the most accomplished anglers I have met. Jim Hendricks is an editor for Sport Fishing magazine. We deduced that we are almost certainly distant relatives. I'll never forget our guide, who did not speak English, roaring with laughter and approval when I yelled, "Venga a su papa! (Come to Papa!)." Sid Dobrin, author of "Fishing, Gone?" shot the scene on video. He inscribed "Venga a Su Papa" in the book he sent me, and he gave that title to the video he posted on YouTube.

I would love to catch giant mahi-mahi off the Guatemala coast. I've caught a lot of smaller mahi-mahi off Baja and Delaware, but not a big one. It doesn't have to be Guatemala. Belize would do. I want the stamps in my passport.

I would love to complete a St. Petersburg Slam, catching a snook, red drum, speckled sea trout and tarpon in one outing. I've gotten three legs several times, but the tarpon has eluded me.

I'm out of space, but I'd love to do more. A whole lot more.


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