We recently sat down with Soggy Bottom's Brandon Smith.
What age did you begin waterfowl hunting? 10 years old in 1989
What is your Proudest Achievement involving hunting?
Co-Founding a youth event called Feathers-Fins-Fur (F3) which Drake is now involved with. This will be the 6th year and we’ve seen kids from all over Alabama participate. F3 averages about 100 kids and 65 adults every year and we do EVERYTHING from a catfish rodeo to calling contest. Blackbelt Retrievers has participated every year by putting on a dog demo and letting the kids see why retrievers are such a great conservation tool. This event partners DU’s Greenwings and NWTF’s JAKES program together.
What is your Proudest Achievement outside hunting?
Raising two kids in the world we live in today! It is not an easy task and the lines are blurred but I am able to trust in One that is bigger than ALL the “stuff” that is around us! Working outdoors in God’s creation on a daily basis and striving to be more like Christ every day. Most days I fail miserably but that’s what is so great that He gives us grace and mercy. Trying to instill that truth in my kids is what I am proudest of.
Please provide advice or tip for hunters;
We have a constant stream of young pups going out the door almost monthly and we always have to remind owners that there is still a learning curve from training to the field. If we’ve kept your dog for 4 months or 8 months there is still a difference in training and hunting and all the ducks, shots, blinds, etc. we expose them to just will not add up to that first volley of 10-12 birds hovering over head. So, please take it easy on them and expect to move slowly until a few birds are under the dogs belt. Do things right like hunt in a small group on the first few trips as opposed to 6 guns blazing in a pit. How about picking a nice, clean piece of water where you know the dog will get a good splash and see the mark on those first few retrieves. One more biggie, DON’T go out and try to run a 100 yard blind retrieve if you have not practiced this at home! When you pick FIDO up he will do this for me and you during practice time but if you don’t work on a few drills to solidify his confidence in you…don’t expect him to trust you in a hunting situation with all those distractions going on. Pay attention to the dog and don’t let him break, make sure he sees the bird, walk him over to a bird that fell in a thick brush pile or two levees over. Just on those first few trips and you’ll be surprised.
Just my .02 cents…if you’ll take those first few hunts and focus on the dog not the ducks you’ll have done it the correct way and it will pay off for the next 8-10 duck seasons with that dog.
Brandon is married to Kelley with 2 children, Camilla and Crosby. Brandon’s hobbies include: boat rides with kids, duck/turkey hunting (or turkey missing), Sunday drives with the family, volunteering at Fairhaven Baptist Church, Kairos Prison Ministries.
Fun Facts –
Brandon is the current Leg Wrestling Champion of North Dakota.
We are blessed to have the opportunity to do this…thanks for checking us out and trusting us with your hunt of a lifetime – Brandon