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    Sophie's Choice or Yours, Feathery Designs Take Flight

    Sophie’s Choice or Yours, Feathery Designs Take Flight

    Sophie Stemler, 15-year-old daughter of Upland Almanac contributor Jodi Stemler, celebrating her first sharp-tailed grouse last fall with her beloved Brittany Mesa. (Photo/Jodi Stemler)
    Sophie Stemler, 15-year-old daughter of Upland Almanac contributor Jodi Stemler, celebrating her first sharp-tailed grouse last fall with her beloved Brittany Mesa. (Photo/Jodi Stemler)
    Regular readers of The Upland Almanac know we like to use this department to alert them to items they might find interesting about some of our regular contributors.

    Combining her love of bird hunting with a businesswoman’s vision and grit, Sophie started her own handmade jewelry company, Field to Feather Designs. The items pictured here combine feathers from a pheasant on top, then Mearns’ quail and then a sage grouse feather base. The beads  are Swarovski crystal, and the hooks, sterling silver. (Photo/Sophie Stemler)
    Combining her love of bird hunting with a businesswoman’s vision and grit, Sophie started her own handmade jewelry company, Field to Feather Designs. The items pictured here combine feathers from a pheasant on top, then Mearns’ quail and then a sage grouse feather base. The beads are Swarovski crystal, and the hooks, sterling silver. (Photo/Sophie Stemler)
    This news brief takes us to the next generation as frequent contributor Jodi Stemler has delivered the latest update on her daughter, Sophie, 15.

    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.

    Sophie got her first taste of upland bird hunting with her parents when she was 9 years old … and she was hooked. (Photo/Tailfeather Communications, LLC)
    Sophie got her first taste of upland bird hunting with her parents when she was 9 years old … and she was hooked. (Photo/Tailfeather Communications, LLC)

    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!
    From onxmaps.com

    Upland Almanac contributor Jack Ballard has been honored by onX Hunt as one of its “Hunting Legends.” With a lifetime of big game hunting experiences behind him, Jack has recently been spending more and more time chasing upland birds with his favorite pal, Percy the English setter. (Photo/Lisa Ballard)
    Upland Almanac contributor Jack Ballard has been honored by onX Hunt as one of its “Hunting Legends.” With a lifetime of big game hunting experiences behind him, Jack has recently been spending more and more time chasing upland birds with his favorite pal, Percy the English setter. (Photo/Lisa Ballard)
    In keeping with our “some news about us” theme, frequent contributor Jack Ballard has been honored to appear in onX Hunt’s “Hunting Legends,” which the website describes as “a new series of exclusive interviews with living legends in the hunting world.”

    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.

    To read the entire Jack Ballard interview visit onxmaps.com/blog/jack-ballard-hunting-legends.
    To learn more about Jack: jackballard.com.


    New, Healthy Treats Now Available

    A couple of new, healthy dog treats from Eukanuba have just hit the market: Activtrainers and Activmobility.

    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

    Hunt until you’re tired and then get a ride back home in Dad’s game bag? Duke the English setter puppy must be thinking, “This is the life!” (Photo/Derik Henderson)
    Hunt until you’re tired and then get a ride back home in Dad’s game bag? Duke the English setter puppy must be thinking, “This is the life!” (Photo/Derik Henderson)
    Derik Henderson of Powell, Wyoming, recently shared a couple photos we thought you’d like to see. In the first one, Duke the puppy – and candidate for a future installment of our “Dreams Delivered” department – enjoys a travel perk not available to his grown up Uncle Beau who looks on.

    No one told Bentley the German shepherd mixed breed dog that he wasn’t supposed to be a bird dog. (Photo/Derik Henderson)
    No one told Bentley the German shepherd mixed breed dog that he wasn’t supposed to be a bird dog. (Photo/Derik Henderson)
    Says Henderson, “I did a quick hunt just above the house here in Wyoming and let the pup out to go venture around while we were hunting. He got tired on the way back up, so I gave him a lift.”

    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.

    Wolfe Publishing Group