The Tailgate Obsession

truck tailgates

Bird hunters seem to have an unhealthy fixation with placing birds on tailgates, bumpers, and hoods for photos. I honestly don’t get it.

Upland hunters are blessed to pursue game in some of the most scenic places known to man: mountains, prairies, marshes, desert — the wildest of places. We hunt with dogs that are skilled and striking. Not to mention the birds, the patterns and array of feathers are the epitome of a master’s canvas. And some hunters are fortunate to have a shooting stick with character and history that shows it’s been been put to use.

There’s a chance if you snap a photo of you, your dog, your shotgun, a game bird if you were lucky and the place you were hunting, then one day when your mind begins to falter, you might actually recall a perfect moment afield.

In this age of social media as the upland seasons roll in, I’m reminded that one of every four photos I see will be someone’s tailgate. Was the arrival back at the truck the best part of your day? Are you secretly comparing tailgate pictures with friends? “Oh baby, you think that tailgate is something, take a look at this one. Look how nice and straight the birds are lined up across those ridges.”

Please stop.

Don’t let anyone think the highlight of your day was that vehicle. Don’t let people believe for one second you’re plunking birds from that truck. Chevy, Ford, Dodge — they all spend plenty on advertising, they don’t need your tailgate or bumper posted all over hell-n-back to help spread the word that they make trucks with tailgates.

I fully understand that vehicles offer a nicely elevated and level platform for your still-life. But do me a favor and turn 90 degrees and look at the area from where you just came. Now turn 180 degrees and take a look in that direction. Now turn back to that piece of stamped metal. Elevated and level be damned, which of those views would anyone prefer to see?

And now to address the inevitable “who cares what people think?” You’re posting images on social media platforms just for you? No, it’s SOCIAL media. Photos of your bird hunting adventures will be seen by your friends and family and often, if “liked,” will be seen by their friends and families. These photos should reflect the majesty of this upland pursuit. The beauty of the birds, dogs, guns and habitat can offer those less familiar with hunting a fresh perspective. There is something really cool about that potential that a tailgate has nothing to offer but dents.

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3 comments

  1. Randall Blankenship says:

    How true, but a little harsh. Today the truck is a major part of the upland bird hunting process. The hunter, dog and gun don’t walk out the back door and find the bird anymore. Play some traveling music, sit on the tailgate with your dog and enjoy it all. Such negativity should not be allowed to intrude into where the magnificent wild birds live and die for us and our dogs. By the way, you failed to mention Toyota.

    • Brian Koch says:

      Sometimes advice is just advice — asking bird hunters to portray this pursuit in the best light to those unfamiliar is far from negative.

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