COVER STORY PREVIEW: DECEMBER-JANUARY 2016
What is the essence of the upland lifestyle, the intersection points between working dogs, double guns, time-honored traditions and the glory of fellowship afield? Covey Rise explores that question with a single focus: to deliver the upland experience to its growing community through extraordinary words and images. So imagine the opportunity to hunt with Tom Brokaw, legendary journalist and ardent pheasant hunter with deep roots in South Dakota. This is a man who could shed some light on the draw of upland hunting.
Covey Rise pulled out all the stops to compose this pre-season hunt at Paul Nelson Farm, the gold standard of pheasant hunting lodges and a frequent stop on Brokaw’s hunting agenda. Writer Miles DeMott and photographer Lee Kjos were given the task of capturing the three-day hunt, but like a good hunting story, the tale just kept getting bigger and bigger. After Brokaw saw the potential storyline, he recommended the inclusion of Chris Dorsey, creator of Ram Outdoorsman, who brought along a crew, some cameras, and a goal of creating an episode around the Covey Rise quest to capture Brokaw in his native state and natural element. For a behind-the-scenes look at how a story takes shape before making its way to you, stay tuned for more details on Covey Rise’s television debut on the Outdoor Channel in late December.
Brokaw, as you might expect, was calm, cool, and collected in front of all the cameras, remarking at one point that he had covered wars with fewer guys. For every gun there were at least two cameras, still or video. Over two full days of hunting, birds flushed, shots were fired, and conversation flowed. Along the way, important images were staged, like the cover shot for the magazine’s next issue. In a barn door, atop an old hay truck, Brokaw poses with Red, his Lab and hunting partner of ten years, decked out in the latest Filson vest and shirt, his iconic eyeglasses reminding us that his view is informed, his perspective clear. His shooting eyes were pretty good, too, as he went five for five to close out the second day of hunting.
In his defense, though, Tom Brokaw has been hunting pheasant since he was a boy. His connection to South Dakota is palpable, especially a wild stretch of the Missouri River, between Fort Randall and Yankton, that brought him into the world, that moves him every time he’s there, and that, ultimately, will call him home. But it was another river, the Hudson, that reflected the bright lights and big city that made Tom Brokaw a household name, giving him the cultural heft to anchor a weekend of pheasant hunting and the relevance to grace the cover of Covey Rise.
The weekend closed with a quick ride aboard Nicholas Air from South Dakota’s Missouri River to New York’s Hudson. Tom Brokaw’s learned a lot since he first made that trip a lifetime ago. On this flight, though, was a man who loves the company of a good dog, whose life spent crafting a national narrative has informed and enriched his own, almost immeasurably. A curious boy whose life took him out of South Dakota, flying in the mind of a man who can never let it go.
Covey Rise works hard to bring the essence of the upland lifestyle to our readers, and sometimes we get lucky enough to bring you the legends as well. While we continue to hunt up the next compelling story, we hope you’ll enjoy a little time with Tom Brokaw, to see him and the upland experience in a renewed light.
Photos by: Lee Thomas Kjos and Travis Gillett
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