It is the season to be jolly, but it is also the time when the local hunting seasons are winding down. Upland bird hunting in our state is but a memory, and in the surrounding states it will soon be over. Snow will be piling up in the woods and the ruffed grouse will have enough of a struggle without us adding to their woes.
Duck season lingers, but ice will close the season here long before the law does. As I get older, the idea of setting out large spreads of decoys seems daunting, so I usually just throw out a few where blacks or mallards have been congregating, and then wait. Many morning the most excitement I have is seeing the sun come up or tasting coffee from my thermos, but the ducks do drop into the decoys often enough to keep me coming back.
I hate to put the guns away for a last time and wonder what the dogs think, watching me do that. I’m sure the oldest recognizes the little rituals, and I have to wonder if she will hunt another year.
But I fight the melancholy, trying to remember the grand days, like the day we moved thirty-eight grouse, or the visiting German shorthair’s first solid point on a grouse, and that old country road where the grouse seemed to be everywhere, and the morning by the pond, where pairs of ducks dropped in one after the other. Looking back at pictures taken and my notes, there are so many great times that it is hard to separate the memories. This past fall more friends visited and shared a hunt than ever before.
We truly have a lot to be thankful for.