Sunday, June 23, 2013

Tween Seasons

It is between seasons, bird seasons that is. At some point, during every single day, thoughts of bird hunting slip through my head. They have to, living with bird dogs in the house and surrounded by books and photos on the subject.
Daily I walk, always with the dogs, to keep in shape. Nothing is more necessary to an upland bird hunter than a good pair of walking legs, and come October the dogs will ready to run too.
Colby and Chara, my two German wirehair pointers

In the mornings, before my workday starts, we trek through the fields and woods out behind the house. They love it almost as much as hunting and I do too. We have no upland game birds here on our island, except possibly a few woodcock that stay to nest somewhere. During the spring and fall those vagabonds migrate through and on more than one occasion my girls have pointed them, but finding a woodcock in the summer is rare. Quail, once abundant, are rare.
There are rabbits galore, and some days the dogs will point one or two and possibly give chase on my command, yet other days they show no interest in them at all. It’s the same with turkeys, who’s numbers are expanding and soon they will become a pest, just like our deer.
Morning sun on the field out back
From the grasses of the field out back we sometimes roust a deer. Two nights ago three decent-sized bucks, with their antlers in velvet, stood like statues in the tall grass at twilight, watching my dogs and I walk along the edge of the field. The dogs never pay much attention to the deer, there are so many of them that I think the dogs get bored with their scent. Oh, if they bump one out of its bed they may give chase for a hundred yards or so, but the dogs always come right back.
Under the oaks of the woods blueberries and huckleberries grow waist high, and, if they are not wet with dew, I’ll often push through them just to work my muscles harder. The dogs bound through them, leaping to see with every stride, their ears flapping like insufficient wings.
Some mornings I seek the sunny sides of the fields for warmth, others the shelter of the trees to break the winds. Lately the crickets have been murmuring in the mornings, but not as loud as later in the day. Turkeys gargle noisily. Crows seem to be everywhere and sometimes I swing my hand like a shotgun, pretending to fire when the lead feels right.
For a week or two a young skunk would turn up along our walk. The dogs would wind it and give it a wide berth, but the little bugger actually would actually charge at a human. I’m sure it made him feel powerful to watch the tall creature flee. With his absence the last couple of mornings I have been wondering if an owl might have had him for dinner.

Soon it will be July, and then comes August, when we can say “Bird season is the month after next….”
Another rabbit.

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