For local hunter Doug Southard, hunting is about setting time aside to be with friends and family away from the distractions of the modern world.

“The big thing with me, with hunting, it’s always nice to have a successful hunting trip. It’s just the camaraderie and just being with my dad,” Southard, who is a fellow Star-Herald employee, told me this week. “Just the special times and making those memories. And, of course, I passed it onto my son.

“It’s just times that are very special. So many times now, in today’s world, we get caught up with different things. We’re always on our phones and we’re on social media. When you’re out in nature, it just removes you from that. It makes you concentrate on what’s important in life.”

Southard’s father, Tom, taught him to hunt at a young age. Southard said he is thankful that his father taught him to hunt because it taught him a lot about life.

“I think hunting was important to me as a kid, teaching me responsibility and being respectful of the landowners,” he said. “Wherever my father and I hunted, we’d leave the land as it was when we first walked upon it.”

Southard said he doesn’t remember his very first hunting trip, but there is one hunt that does stand out. When he was 6 or 7, his dad had taken him duck hunting. That’s when Southard shot his first animal.

“That was a mallard drake duck,” Southard, said. “We were walking a creek just west of Kimball. I think my dad knew there were some ducks up around the next bend in the creek. So, I had a .410 shotgun. These ducks came up out of the creek, of course. I shot. It was a single shot, and I was thinking, ‘Dang, I missed.’”

Southard said his dad stood there for what seemed like hours after he had taken his shot, but it was probably closer to 30 seconds.

“(My dad) said, ‘Let’s go get your duck.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about? I missed,’ He said, ‘No, that duck flew a long way and it just got lower and lower and lower. And it went down.’

“...We walked, I’m not kidding you, probably a quarter of a mile. That big, green head mallard was lying there on a dirt road.”

Southard said it was a memorable trip, not just because it was the first duck he ever shot.

“It was by far the biggest duck I’ve ever shot in my 53 years,” he said.

While Southard enjoys waterfowl hunting, he said he has never been into deer hunting.

“I just never got into it. I’ve never shot a deer,” he said. “I’ve been with a lot of people (on a deer hunt), including my son, archery hunting and rifle hunting when he was younger. Great hunts. I was very proud and very honored to be with them. It’s just something I never really wanted to do.

“It’s just time we’re together. That’s the whole thing with me anymore. As you age, I think, it just means a lot more. It’s the time together and the memory, instead of going out and trying to get your limit in ducks and geese every time. It’s nicer when you can, but it just doesn’t matter to me. As long as I have great, quality time with my family. It’s just about making memories for me.”

For those who do enjoy hunting, the Star-Herald is looking for your entries in its Big Bucks Photo Contest. The contest has been a popular one in the past, with three categories: archery, firearm and muzzleloader.

Submit your photo and you could even grab yourself some extra hunting gear. Each category winner will be determined by public voting and win a gift card to Cabela’s/Bass Pro.

The hunter with the most overall votes will be our grand prize winner. The grand prize winner will receive a $100 gift card.

Photos can be submitted online in the contest, which is already underway at Keep coming back and submit photos from your hunting adventures until Jan. 8.

Entries must include the entrant’s name, address, email address and phone number, a photo title and caption, date and county in which the animal was taken and submit your photo. Remember that by submitting to the contest, you are giving the Star-Herald permission to re-print your photo. We’ll feature an entry from the Big Bucks contest each Monday on and in Tuesday’s print edition, starting Oct. 21.

The public will select the winners in each category, during a voting period from Jan 9 to Jan. 15. The Star-Herald will announce the winners in an ad on Jan. 19. We’ll also highlight the winners in a follow up article.

We can’t wait to see your memories in our contest.

Jeff Van Patten is the sports editor of the Star-Herald. Jeff can be reached by calling 308-632-9050 or emailing

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