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Bob St. Pierre

Hugo, Minn.

The Bird Hunter with Diabetes

Just to the right of the Rooster's head, you'll see my insulin pump clipped to my belt.

CAPTION: Just to the right of the rooster's head you'll see my insulin pump clipped to my belt.

I am a bird hunter first.  I am a diabetic second. 

My doctor, my mom and my wife may disagree with that order, but that’s my reality. 

I didn’t know jack about diabetes before I was diagnosed with adult onset juvenile diabetes at the tender age of 26, but it’s one of those diseases that takes over your entire existence, so you learn quick.  You have to.  From doing a radio interview to going out on my fishing boat, diabetes has added a wild card to every activity in my life; especially bird hunting.

My form of diabetes, Type 1, is the insulin-dependent kind.  You may be more familiar with Type 2 diabetes which develops in folks that are a little older, a little over-weight and a little less physically active.  Type 1, on the other hand, is the old school needle-carrying form. 

At this moment, your blood sugar is probably about 84.  That’s considered normal thanks to your healthy and functioning pancreas releasing insulin to manage your blood’s glucose level.  My blood sugar, on the other hand, has been as low as 28 and as high as 584.  At this moment, the insulin pump monitoring my blood sugar level reads 212.

When I have low blood sugar, I feel weak, disoriented and starved.  When I have high blood sugar, I am agitated and also have difficulty thinking clearly.  Lows in the middle of the night that wake me out of a deep sleep are the absolute worst.  Not only do I binge eat to get my sugar back up, it’s virtually impossible not to over-eat, so my blood sugar jumps super high.  It just flat out makes me feel awful for the entire next day.  The goal is to get my blood sugar as close to normal as yours with the combination of monitoring my carbohydrate intake, taking insulin injections, exercising, limiting alcohol intake and managing stress.  On paper it seems relatively easy.  In reality, it’s a crap shoot with every decision I make throughout the day. 

As a diabetic constantly monitoring my body’s reaction to food and activity, I can tell you without a single doubt that bird hunting is the most physically demanding activity I participate in throughout the year and that is compared to 5-mile runs, lifting weights or chopping firewood.  Now I’m not talking pheasant hunting on the groomed paths and corn rows of a game farm.  I’m talking cattail busting.  I’m talking about walking through a field of chest-high prairie grasses pulling at your legs like “Night of the Living Zombies.”  Forget about P90X, take up pheasant hunting instead. 

Give me a plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, stuffing and a glass of lemonade.  On a normal day, that meal might put me into a blood sugar overdose, but send me out into a snowy cattail slough in mid-December and I’ll be sucking down Gatorade an hour later to push my blood sugar back up to normal just so I have enough energy to make it back to the truck before I pass out. 

The moral of my story is we’ve all got crosses to bear in life.  Mine is diabetes.  Diabetes will likely be what kills me, but I’ll be damned if diabetes is going to be what defines me. 

I am a bird hunter.   

 Bob St.Pierre is Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Syren, Re-engineering Shotguns for Women

Most of us have been there before, in the field with a girlfriend, wife or mom who has shown an interest in watching the family bird dog work and experiencing the “rush of the flush.” With good intentions all around, we hand over our shotgun for the day. However, like golf clubs and hunting boots, shotguns aren’t comfortable fits for both genders, even if it includes pink highlights. Enter Caesar Guerini. 

Last year at SHOT Show, Caesar Guerini introduced the new Syren shotgun specially engineered for the female hunter and sporting clays shooter. The Syren product introduction and subsequent sales have been so successful Syren stands alone as its own division at this year’s SHOT Show. 

The recipe for Syren’s success focused on reengineering the shotgun’s stock. They adeptly recognized that women generally have smaller hands and longer necks than their male counterparts, so the fit of a standard shotgun automatically feels awkward when mounted. If you think about it, a shotgun hits your body at your cheek, shoulder, both palms and trigger finger.  That’s a lot of spots to be potentially off the mark in a tool that’s been designed for men the last couple hundred years. Here’s what Syren changed in these touch points:

1) Trigger Finger: The Syren closed the distance between the stock’s grip and the trigger to better fit a woman’s hand. In fact, many models include adjustable triggers for your own personal fit.

2) Stock Length: Known as the “length of pull,” Syren also closed the distance from the trigger to the butt of the stock to better fit a woman’s shorter arm length.

3) Pocket Fit: The “pocket” is the area between the shoulder and chest where a shotgun’s stock rests against the body. In the Syren, the cast and pitch (angle of stock horizontal and vertical relative to barrel) have been modified to better fit a women’s body.

4) Cheek Comfort: In general, women have longer necks leading to a greater distance between a female shooter’s eye and shoulder pocket. This variable is a big deal when a standard men’s fitted shotgun recoils and slaps against the female shooter’s cheek. In the Syren line, their shotguns feature higher “Monte Carlo” style combs for a better fit against the cheek. 

5) Elegant Design: The Syren will never be confused for a “meat stick.” The entire Syren line features gorgeously engraved receivers and the stock’s grip also includes Syren’s signature engraved roses on the Turkish walnut stock.

As with most bird hunters, you don’t need to know all the details of your shotgun’s fit as long as it’s comfortable. Therein lies the magic of the Syren—the proof is sporting goods stores can’t keep them on the shelves. 

The only downside to the Syren is its cost, with semi-autos starting at $1,950 and over/unders starting at $2,980. They are priced fairly for their high quality, but a challenge for most entry level hunters. Look at it this way, a Syren will be the last shotgun a new female hunter will ever have to purchase. They are a legacy shotgun that daughters and granddaughters to come will cherish.

Bob St. Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

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