Friday, January 18, 2013

Not My Favorite, but…

     There is this place that I hunt because it is close to home, not because it is the best hunting. It’s state owned land, complete with stocked pheasants and feeble pen-raised quail and lots of hunters, but the memories go way back, well over forty years, to my earliest days with a dog and a gun.
Colby in the early morning haze
     Even in the off season I stop there to walk the dog sometimes. Often I’ve told myself that I really haven’t hunted that property all that much, not wanting to really admit how often I’ve been there. But when I get out in the woods and walk into the first field I always recall where the pheasant hid in that corner on the last day of a season and can even still see it burst upward through the limbs of the oaks again. Or there’s that thicket, just north of the old sand pit, where the other hunter’s dogs had just passed through, and then mine locked up solid on a sulking pheasant. And as I pass by that old blow down that fell over four or five years ago, I see again the covey of quail that exploded in every direction, making my head spin and the dog go crazy.
     That particular blow down is near the corner of a field where my first bird dog, a young Brittany male, who at that time knew more about bird hunting than me, located his first covey of quail. I can still see his eyeballs doing circles in their sockets as about two dozen quail huddled together six feet from his trembling pink nose.
There's a quail hiding in there
     And then there’s the place under the power lines where my oldest German wirehair, well over a decade ago, back when she was only five months of age, pointed her very first quail. When I shut my eyes the pup still stands at the edge of the weeds. I remember how nervous I felt, not wanting to miss when that bird flushed, but I can still see it fall and her hurried grab.
     All three of my wirehairs have hunted there. My youngest retrieved the first bird shot over her only three seasons ago. It happened in a logged-over area and I can still see her prancing back with that bird in her mouth, looking ever so very proud.
     There have been a few golden moments too, like the occasional woodcock twisting up from under my feet, and even points that produced exploding ruffed grouse, although I never would shoot one there with their numbers so low in that neck of the woods.
Chara pointing and Colby honoring
     Every fall the same faces are there in the parking lot, people who I barely know, but we hunt together and our dogs back each other’s and we share laughs and stories and watch each other miss. It’s a camaraderie that predates modern man.
     Around every turn and over every knoll are places that remind me of good times. I guess forty plus years multiplied times a couple of times a year adds up to a whole lot of…pretty good fun.


  1. Hunting familiar areas is more relaxing because its not a survival-adventure; its truer to the sport because its more sporting.

    1. I am not certain I agree with you. Hunting new country is always the most fun for me, and I do like the adventure part of it, seeing what is over the next ridge or across the stream. Finding new cover is a major part of grouse hunting. But, as with many things in life, we all have our own preferences. Familiar places are full of memories though, and just walking there are remembering is nice.

    2. Hunting new areas is why I'm a grouse hunter. It's the adventure. Sometimes, I have to laugh at those bow hunters sitting in the same tree day after day, season after season.

    3. I agree with you. Sometimes I walk for miles, trying to see what is over the next hill, on the other side of the clear-cut, or around the corner of the logging road. Trout fishing I'll do the same thing, hurrying down the stream, rather than fishing it properly, anxious to see what is around the next bend.....