My annual participation in the Big Fred Tribute provides me with an emotional connection to my best friend, Fred. He always had such great respect and appreciation for the outdoors, the animals he hunted and God who created all these things for man to experience. The BFT keeps his legacy alive because it embodies everything that was important to him. The BFT has given me the opportunity to meet hunters from all over the world, in many different industries, with varying levels of knowledge and expertise in hunting. Although we only see each other once a year at the hunt, there is a bond that you develop with folks that are part of your Tribe, year after year. Also, the dog handlers and their dogs are FIRST CLASS in bird retrieval. It has been a real pleasure to get to know these guys. Their passion for the sport and love for their dogs is what makes these guys great! The handlers love this event. That’s why many of them have been coming since the first BFT.
The Big Fred Tribute bird hunt is at a time of the year when it is cold and everything is dormant. Yet the fields come alive with the quiet whispers between you and your Tribe, the echoes of gunshots and the Handler commands to the dogs, to retrieve the birds. As you put the birds in your vest, you and your Tribe offer each other words of encouragement to keep everyone focused on the competition. While you’re in the field, you wonder if your Tribe will be in first place. When time is up, birds are brought back to the cleaning station. Birds are counted, cleaned and vacuum sealed, while the Tribes gather for a great meal and auction where proceeds are given to charities chosen by the Harteis family. As the auction closes, everyone is on the edge of their seat as the winners are announced. The evening ends with a group picture of everyone who was there to celebrate the life and legacy of Big Fred.