Fall is a highly anticipated season, especially for those who enjoy the great outdoors in Minnesota. The crisp falling temperatures complimented by jewel-tone colors set the stage for the opening of hunting season. Medina resident Peyton Bartz recently had a socially distant conversation with me, sharing his love for this time of year and why it is meaningful to him.

Starting when he was only seven years old, Peyton began his hunting life by walking alongside his dad, Steve, out in the fields. From a young age he learned the joys of spending time with someone you appreciate while breathing in the fresh air, working your muscles and watching a beloved dog instinctively do what she is bred to do. When he turned 12, Peyton attended a gun safety training course through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources prior to actually handling a shotgun. By the end of the two week course Peyton had learned the parts of the gun, traits of Minnesota’s native birds and animals, ending with a field day where the students practiced what they learned. “You have to use extreme caution when handling a gun, especially when hunting with a dog. I’ve seen birds flying low and Luna has caught a couple in the air, she just jumps up to get them. You need to wait until the birds are a good 10 to 15 feet off the ground and the dog isn’t in your sight so you know for a fact there is no chance of hitting the dog. Luna has definitely been tripped up in the moment a couple of times.” Peyton pauses, thinks for a moment before continuing, “You always need the barrel to the sky, if anything jams in the gun, you need to make sure the gun is unloaded before you clean it to prevent injuries.

“We try and go as often as we can once hunting season starts.” Because they need to work around Peyton’s school schedule at Providence Academy, the opportunity is limited to Saturday and Sundays throughout the fall, this year from October 10 through January 3, 2021.

“Just being out there with my dad, walking in the fields and snow with the sun over top of us and being able to share the experience with my dog is what makes it special. Luna and I are very close, seeing her so happy working back and forth finding the birds is a nice experience.”