Trading Cameras for Shotguns: Two onX Staff Get Their First Sharptails

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Two of onX’s in-house creatives trade cameras for shotguns and shoot their first birds.

Some days stick in your memory for a long time. Most of us remember catching our first fish, the first night we spent outside or some random moment we simply stopped and paused in awe of the sheer size of the places where we spend our time outside. Sometimes the things we remember are nights spent drinking around the campfire with good friends or quiet early morning drives to our favorite hunting spot.

Those are the good moments, the moments we remember. The moments that make all the office time, meetings and computer work worthwhile. It’s a fine balance we’re always talking about here in the Missoula, Montana, onX offices.

Garrett Mikrut walks into the sunset while upland bird hunting in eastern Montana.
Nick Larson takes aim with his shotgun while upland bird hunting in eastern Montana.

Two members of onX’s brand team recently had a chance to make their own memories in the field. Content Production Coordinator Dave Fields and Communications Writer Jess McGlothlin ventured to eastern Montana with onX Hunt Product Owner Matt Seidel. Neither Dave nor Jess had hunted before; Dave’s Chicago / Portland career had not lent itself to the lifestyle, and while Jess hails from Montana, she’s new to onX, fresh from a 10-year career as a freelance photographer and writer in the fly-fishing industry.

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Upland hunting was a new experience for both.

An English setter pauses in the field while upland bird hunting in eastern Montana.
Details of a shotgun, strap vest and worn leather gloves on a hunter while upland bird hunting in eastern Montana.

The project was a sage grouse hunt, tackled in conjunction with Billings-based hunter and dog breeder Brandon Moss, as well as various members of the Project Upland team. The group gathered to hunt sage grouse and sharptails, documenting both the conservation journey of sage grouse and the autumnal glory of eastern Montana. Dave and Jess were along on assignment to shoot photographs and video for onX—walking along with the hunters for several days, watching dogs work, and dodging porcupines and bull snakes, all while running around the sage-laden plains looking for the best photographic light.

On the final morning, an opportunity finally arose for both creatives to trade out their cameras for shotguns and walk the hills and gullies with a different mission in mind: sharptail grouse. Neither had shot a bird before, and with the guidance of Matt, along with Nick Larson and Garrett Mikrut of Northwoods’R, they took off across the scraggly landscape after, hopefully, birds.

Garrett Mikrut places a bird into a game pouch, shot while upland bird hunting in eastern Montana.
Fine feather details of a bird shot while upland bird hunting in eastern Montana.

As the clouds and brisk wind gave way to a lighter breeze and spotty sunlight, Nick’s English setter, Hartley, and Garrett’s German shorthaired pointer, Surly, were hard at work canvassing terrain, leading the group into productive opportunities and, eventually, into Dave and Jess’ first sharp-tailed grouse. After capturing a few images, the team took a roundabout hike back to the trucks and parted ways. Both creatives headed back to Missoula, birds in the cooler, trying to make it home in time for the upcoming workday, while the rest of the team remained for a few more days of hunting.

Life is always a balance of work and the things we love. On extraordinary occasions, the two collide. For these two new hunters, after a couple days of sprinting around with cameras and working hard, the opportunity to trade cameras for shotguns was rare and appreciated. There’s no doubt there will be more upland bird hunting shoots—with both cameras and guns—in the future.

A Brittany dog runs through fields of grass and sage while upland bird hunting in eastern Montana.
Nick Larson pauses while upland bird hunting in eastern Montana to give his English setter Hartley a much-needed drink of water.

header image: Jess McGlothlin


Jess McGlothlin

Before taking the role of onX Communications Writer, Jess McGlothlin worked as a freelance photographer and writer in the outdoor and fly-fishing industries. While on assignment in the past few years she’s learned how to throw spears at coconuts in French Polynesia, dodge saltwater crocodiles in Cuba, stand-up paddleboard down Peruvian Amazon tributaries and eat all manner of unidentifiable food.