As I sit contemplating the upcoming weekend of bird hunting both Britts are curled up sound asleep on different sides of the room perhaps with few if any cares except the moment at hand. Sometimes they twitch or quietly whine in their sleep only to leave me wondering if it’s a dream of past hunts, hunts yet to come or simply a deep sleep response? An answer only they will ever know. But as we start packing the truck their excitement grows and they follow closely from room to room worried they’ll be left behind. Little do they know that without them my desire to hunt would be almost non-existent. But why does this trigger such an extreme desire in them? Some call it prey drive others good bird dog breeding still others have said it’s a learned behavior/skill with a bit of wild that’s part of a long line of previous ancestors. Whatever it is I’m thankful for it and now my primary reason to still enjoy heading afield for long walks rewarded by brief moments of extreme excitement. A person who’s never taken such a walk cannot possibly understand the passion felt and desire to recreate that moment over and over again. After so many years in the same pursuit, so many flushes and walking behind a dozen or more bird dogs in the span of a lifetime, the miles driven or miles walked are forgotten each time a pheasant bursts into flight under the dogs’ nose. The result is almost a sheer blissful excited panic. It absolutely never gets old and is always totally unpredictable. Where, how fast, rooster or hen, cackling or silent, which direction only the bird itself knows in that moment of extremes. If it’s ever taken for granted it’s time to quit!
At one point my prowess as a hunter was measured only by the number of birds in the back pouch of my coat. Over time it’s certainly changed. Maybe evolved would be a better descriptor. You see I’ve become quite particular about who my days are spent afield with now knowing full well that the road already traveled is much longer than the miles ahead. My sons, Erik and Chad are my favorite hunting companions. Watching their successes is extremely gratifying. Both have become excellent wing shots and now with their own bird dogs to follow. I love watching them down a bird building on a passion in much that same way my father did for me. But they too have careers to pursue with demands on their time limiting hunting opportunities so Snap, Belle and I pick public lands not yet walked. With one bird in hand quite often the next one to take flight will make me an observer of that fleeing, brightly colored bird and appreciating the opportunity to take it all in and marveling in the abilities of my 4-legged hunting partners not to mention the beauty in the bird itself. Even if I do choose to shoot a miss isn’t nearly as irritating as it once was too. But those are secrets kept between the dogs and me!
So now I’m back to the next weekend which is where we began above. The forecast is for lots of wind and first thought is to simply not go but now into the last days of November with time in this season limited perhaps that’s not the best plan so guess it’s time to pack up again and look for some public lands to once again search for a rooster, maybe successfully too. However that’s not the most important reason for going. Most important is simply the opportunity to spend the day afield with these two 30 pound bundles of pure happy energy. It’s really contagious and something I love to do! Think the dogs will agree to come along? A silly question isn’t it!
Good hunting to each of you and I’ll see you on the radio, Fan Outdoors radio really soon! Be sure to make some memories of your own because they do last a lifetime!
Capt’n, Snap & Belle too!