Monday, November 2, 2009

It's about over...

I was in the fleet store this evening looking at deer hunting gear and gadgets when I ran into an old friend doing the same. He told me he’d just went back to work after taking the most of October off for hunting and fishing. He couldn’t believe how quickly that time passed. I know the feeling.

I spent most of October hunting, also, and though it was a tough month weather-wise, I hated to see it end. I can’t remember such a wet bird hunting season. I know it’s not over yet, and there may be good grouse hunting in Nov, and December, but it’s a chancy bet with the snow that will likely be here. As a matter of fact I often find grouse bunched up near clear cuts late in the season and the shooting can be awesome. But it’s not the kind of day-in, day-out hunting I enjoy when the leaves are turning.

I hunted a lot in raingear this year. It wasn’t easy to find a dry log to sit on and enjoy a sandwich while my setter lay in dry leaves next to me hoping for a bite. My evening routine consisted of hanging clothes to dry, sticking boots on the boot dryer, break down the shotgun for an oily rag, supper, drink, bed.

My hunting was interrupted only by the field trials I had been asked to judge. During them I connected with long time friends, saw some great dogs work many grouse and woodcock, and had a fine time in general. Hunting or trialing, I walked hours a day, and I ate bigger meals than usual but lost nearly ten pounds in October. It was nice to do a little duck hunting when I could watch the morning break sitting in a boat or canoe. I might be in better shape than I was the first of the month, I know my dogs are, but after weeks of following bird dogs through tight and heavy cover, I feel kind of worn out. But not wore enough not to do more if the opportunity presents itself.

On our last hunt in October I was treated to maybe the prettiest grouse find I’ve ever seen. My setter Ty hunted forward on the edge of a cutting, when his bell fell silent. I climbed out of a draw to come into a little meadow where I saw Ty pointing on the other side just at woods edge. He was facing right and stood tall and still, poker straight tail at twelve o’clock. I approached in the wide open of the meadow when three grouse exploded simultaneously in front of the dog. Two went for the woods and the third came across the meadow. You seldom get offered shots like that and I’ll remember that scene for a long time.

Saturday morning I’ll watch night turn to day in a quiet deerstand. A few days of that peaceful pursuit will be welcome. But it won’t take long before I’ll miss the action and sound of dog bells, fast flushing birds, and smooth swinging shotguns. The best of bird season is coming to an end. It felt like summer when it started, and it’ll be winter when it’s finally over. It will be too soon for me.

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