I am sure the other reporters crowded around John Smith Sunday afternoon at Gallagher-Iba Arena wondered what the heck I was doing asking the Oklahoma State wrestling coach about his hunting seasons, but that’s what happens when editors send an outdoor writer to cover collegiate wrestling.
Smith is passionate about the outdoors and an avid hunter so I thought he might have some good hunting stories to share with me. It turns out he didn’t kill much this season.
“Pheasant, not many of them,” Smith said. “It was disappointing. But when you have that weather we had this summer it was a struggle for those birds to survive. But I got out several times. Just getting out is all I need, and see a few birds and maybe take a couple home, which I did. But it was a slow season.”
Smith did see a few coveys of quail on his pheasant hunts but didn’t kill many of those birds either.
“When you are pheasant hunting, you are just not quite ready for those quail,” he said. “You see a few of the pheasant get up, with a little slower reaction you can still get the bird, then all of a sudden a covey of quail breaks and you need to be a little faster. I felt like I was behind all day on the two or three (coveys) that we did have a chance.”
Smith also is a deer hunter but didn’t harvest a buck this season.
“I passed on several deer,” he said. “It was a good season though. I saw a lot of deer. It’s a healthy herd right now in Stillwater and Payne County.”
Unfortunately for Smith, the hunting and wrestling seasons overlap. Smith has to balance his time between hunting and coaching. He sometimes will pass on shooting a buck so he can get to wrestling practice on time.
“I just kind of judge it on my time,” he said. “If I see a deer in the morning, if I am able to take one pretty early, I got time to get it and clean it and take care of it,” he said. “But if it’s late, it’s got to be a special deer because that means I am going to be late for practice.”