(Editor’s Note: This is Part Three as NewsChannel 9 Outdoor Editor Richard Simms documents a recent road trip to South Dakota in search of ducks, geese and pheasants. You can read Part One here and you will find Part Two here.
WEBSTER, South Dakota – When Samantha (Sam) Andrews lights up with a bright smile, it’s easy to see why she was a high school cheerleader. No doubt Fall Friday nights found her bouncing and waving at the crowd on the sidelines. These days, however, most of Sam’s Fall Friday nights are spent preparing for the next day’s hunt.
“When I was a cheerleader in high school, anytime I was challenged I wanted to prove myself,” she said. “I always loved shooting and being outdoors.”
The pretty young woman’s desire to meet challenges, and her interest in guns, led her to serve six-years as a military police officer in the Army National Guard.
“I thought it would be really cool to play with guns and stuff,” she said with a glowing Minnesota smile that probably took a few drunken soldiers off-guard during her law enforcement days.
Growing up she deer hunted with her family occasionally, but it wasn’t really a passion. Then she met Tyler Andrews.
She well remembers her first hunting date with Tyler – a goose hunt seven years ago.
“I didn’t have to lift a finger,” she said. “I just remember hearing the wing beats of those first birds flying over us and I was hooked right then and there. But now Tyler has me doing a lot more work,” she added with a smile.
At six feet, seven inches tall Tyler is an imposing figure. His long strides cover mile-long cornfields in short order. Now 31, Tyler can easily recall the day he killed his first duck – a wood duck – when he was 12 years old. He said that was the beginning of what will no doubt be a lifelong calling. Since then the waterfowl he has taken number in the thousands.
“With me and a group of friends hunting, I remember one September when we shot over 700 Canada geese,” he said.
Before he became a pipefitter, Tyler worked at a Cabelas retail store and was very familiar with all of the wide variety of hunting manufacturers. But he said hitching his wagon to Avery was an easy choice to make.
“It’s simple,” he said. “I like their products and I like their gear.”
He says the expectations of being a pro-staffer are small, but he does all he can to give back.
“We do migration reports on what we see where we’re traveling. We do shows. We just try our best to represent the product,” said Tyler. “And we get to do these writer hunts. I got to meet [you] two pretty cool guys from Tennessee. That’s the main thing – just getting to meet new people.”
Sam is most proud to see Avery and other manufacturers beginning to recognize and provide products for women.
“It’s so good to see,” she said. “It’s nice to have clothes that actually fit me – well, they don’t fit so much now that I’m pregnant, but it’s awesome to see women having an impact on the industry.”
Yes, Sam and Tyler are expecting their first child in April. But Sam’s current condition didn’t stop her from a 5 am wakeup call to venture into the freezing South Dakota fields, for relatively little return.
“I’ve definitely been on some better hunts, but that’s hunting,” she said. “You just never know what you’re going to get.”
However the Andrews’ $10,000 of various waterfowl hunting paraphernalia, including the huge trailer to haul it all in, helped insure we didn’t leave the field empty-handed. Tyler understands that success under tough conditions doesn’t come cheap – financially, physically or emotionally. But he says when a pair of ducks or geese finally set their wings and sail for the decoys, “It just gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. It proves that obviously I didn’t do everything wrong. I got birds to work.”
Laying flat of his back beside a frozen South Dakota pothole with the wind chill in the teens, Tyler had his wife right by his side – something not too many waterfowlers enjoy.
With a gleam in her eye Sam said later, “Spending time in the outdoors with my husband – having the experiences and seeing everything we see together just takes our relationship to another level.”
Very soon a child will take it up a notch, no doubt bringing about a lifestyle change for the couple. But there is also no doubt that down the road the little one will be heading afield with Mom and Dad. Hunting and fishing will most definitely be an Andrews family affair.