column By: The Upland Almanac Staff | March, 21
Sophie’s Choice or Yours, Feathery Designs Take Flight
We first met Sophie in 2014 on a pheasant hunt near Aberdeen, South Dakota, when she was 9 years old. As she kept up in the field with the big kids and even traipsed off with her long-legged father Casey and their Brittany Mesa on a half-mile jaunt to retrieve a wounded bird, she seemed fully immersed in the experience.
Well, Jodi reports that now Sophie has done what so many of us wish we could figure out how to do and has turned her love of upland bird hunting into a part-time business.
Sophie designed her first pair of earrings using upland bird feathers shortly after that South Dakota hunt, and she loved them so much that she designed several more to sell in the Youth Market at her county’s 4-H fair. Two years later, she donated a pair to the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt, and the ladies fell in love. Sophie took orders that holiday season and then decided to turn her hobby into a small business she named Field to Feather Designs, launching a website in early 2019.
Sophie found early success selling to friends and family but struggled to reach a broader audience, so she opened Facebook and Instagram accounts and began marketing through social media. Her sales skyrocketed in 2020, and Sophie was recently featured in The Women’s Outdoor News.
All Field to Feather Designs jewelry feature feathers from wild upland game birds that have been harvested by Sophie, her parents or close friends – it gives them a great excuse to spend more time in the field. Field to Feather Designs offers premade products on the website. Sophie also custom designs earrings either with her own feathers based on a customer’s preference or with feathers the client provides from their own harvests. She has fun designing earrings that help clients to remember a special hunt. Sophie’s favorite custom design job so far was for a bride and her eight bridesmaids.
Check out her jewelry at fieldtofeatherdesigns.com or find Sophie on Facebook and Instagram, @fieldtofeatherdesigns.
You Now Know Jack!
The article begins, “As far as hunting ‘how-to’ writing goes, you’ll find Jack Ballard’s byline on an encyclopedia’s worth of information. Mix in topics like fishing, traveling and grizzly bears and you’ll start to get the picture of what Ballard is both passionate and knowledgeable about.”
Appearing in over 50 regional and national publications, Ballard has written about elk hunting on public lands, creating the perfect traditional elk camp. Both his writing and photography have garnered for him multiple awards from the Outdoor Writers Association of America and other professional organizations.
Ballard grew up between Three Forks and Whitehall, Montana, watching his father, an avid big game hunter, go after mule deer, antelope and elk. He himself starting stalking his own “big game” when he was 6 years old, “shooting mice in the henhouse” by flashlight with his Daisy BB gun.
Like many of us, as a young man Jack picked up the “trophy bug” from witnessing his father’s success and reading Outdoor Life magazine.
“I was really motivated that way, and I killed some pretty good animals. But I’m to the point now that I get more satisfaction out of hunting by helping my wife, who did not grow up as a hunter, as well as my daughter and all my kids. It really doesn’t matter anymore if I’m the guy who pulls the trigger or not.”
Jack is changing his “game focus” these days. “I wrote about big game hunting for most of my career, and I will always like hunting elk. But I really am enjoying the challenge of learning something relatively new for me in relation to upland bird hunting and waterfowl.
“So I’m really into bird hunting now, and I enjoy working with my dog,” Percy, an English setter.
And, Jack being Jack, if he’s doing it, he’s writing about it, so he’s turned his attention to writing more about bird hunting, often in this magazine, and for that we are grateful.
New, Healthy Treats Now Available
Eukanuba’s team of nutritional scientists and veterinarians have developed treats that, like the dog foods, focus on delivering mental and physical advantages to help sporting dogs perform at their best. Both treats are low in calories, fewer than 2 kcal/each, and are produced with a semi-moist consistency for easier digestion.
Activtrainers, for young dogs 2 months and older, are fortified with DHA, a fatty acid that supports healthy brain function while promoting learning and memory. They come in two sizes, 5-ounce in either chicken or salmon and 7.9-ounce in chicken only.
Activmobility treats, for puppies and young dogs 12 months and older, contain nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which can help protect against cartilage degeneration and support mobile joints. These come in the 5-ounce size, chicken flavor.
Derik’s Little Pack
In the background of that photo, you might note somewhat of an oddity for an upland bird hunting scene: Bentley the 3-year-old German shepherd mixed breed dog. That’s also Bentley in the other photo.
“I had shot a double on chukar,” reports Henderson. “Beau went after one, and Bentley took off after the other.”
As it turns out, Henderson adopted Bentley when he was 8 months old. “I spend a ton of time in bear country, and his job is to be my ears. I’ve also been working him on tracking wounded animals.”
Bentley has proven to be very adaptable and trainable. “He loves to go. He’s not allowed to get more than 20 yards from me, but he has picked up some habits just from time in the field. He will flash point and flush, especially pheasants. He loves to run down runners as well.”
Bentley will double-team birds with Beau in heavy cover. With Beau on point, Henderson will release Bentley for the flush.