Lost

We impart a piece of ourselves on the things that we carry.

My father’s knife, my grandfather’s block plane, the gun that I have carried across a dozen states and hunted nearly every species of upland bird in America – these things do not define us, but they are significant exhibits that help explain us as people.

My gun was a light, quick handling Italian 20ga, made by I. Rizzini and imported by B.C. outdoors as a Verona. It came with a spare set of barrels in 28ga. More important than all that was that I shot it well. So much better than everything else, that in the years since I have rarely hunted with anything else.
Light parade, Jason, Boys, Matt, Thomas
My wife bought it for me on my 30th birthday. Completely unbeknownst to me, she ordered it, went to pick it up, didn’t like the one she got and sent it back for another one. The one that I ended up with was perfect for me and I loved it even more for its origin. There are few things in life like getting a truly special gift from the person you love most.
I’ll miss shooting that little gun and the confidence that I felt when I swung it on flushing birds. I regret that I never got to restock it, for once sanding, fitting and checkering a gun that would always be mine. More than that, I regret that I won’t have it to pass on to my sons and tell them about how their mom bought it for me.
It’s been a week since I drove off and left it behind in a nondescript parking spot near Arimo, Idaho. A week since I rushed back hours later in a panic, only to find it gone. It’s been a week since someone else picked up my gun, the one my wife gave me and that I held in trust for my kids.
It’s been a week since I filed the report with the sheriff, called every gun shop for a 100 miles. A week since I told my wife that I had squandered the effort that she put into that special gift all those years ago.
It’s been one day since, shooting another gun, I missed 12 shots in a row. And no, that is not a typo. 12.
I try tell myself that it was only a gun, but it was more than that.
Maybe someday, whoever picked it up will read this and the gun will find it’s way home. Maybe the serial number will come up somewhere or a gun shop will recognize it. Maybe I will have a chance to buy it back. Maybe a guilty conscious will deliver it to the sheriff, who will return it to me.
Or maybe the Verona with the faint crack in the wrist and the worn bluing on the action, the gun that I carried and left my mark on, will simply go somewhere else.
Somewhere out there, someone has a gun that I was holding in trust for my kids. It is part of a narrative that helps explain who I am and what a special person my wife is. It is an exhibit that means more than birds and miles and hunting. It has been imparted with my story and I want it back.

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Filed under Guns, Talegate, Tools of the Trade

No Tell Motel

IMG_1181Anyone who has a bird dog and has taken to the road has a good motel story. These stories usually include burs, barking, poop, blood, ass gas and the midnight puking. Not all of these features are confined to the dogs.

All manners and all bets are off when the setters enter a motel room. Beds are made to be jumped on. Carpets made for dragging butt. Toilets for drinking.

I like motel rooms that are on the first floor, with doors opening to the parking area and quick access to a place for a midnight dash. The worst kind of motel is the kind that has access only through the lobby and perhaps one other door, and all the doors open to a shared hallway. If you are really screwed, your room will be up a flight of stairs on the second or third floor and the outdoor poop zone will be some gravel parking lot in the middle of town. Probably behind a bar (occupied by midnight drunks outside smoking cigarettes and making comments about how preeeetty your dog is and trying to pat him without falling over). Assuming you yourself are not in the bar because there’s an early morning of pheasant chasing to be had.

Recently, I found myself in a scenario that was worst-case, as they say. Upstairs, indoor access. Long, long hallway. Three setters one of which was my girlfriend’s, a five month-old puppy and an 11-year-old veteran. Numerous walks with the older dogs at heel, pup on the leash. A gauntlet of dog-patters and cooing admirers to run in the hallway. Early rise planned. Really early. Like five a.m. A dirt parking lot behind the drunks. Worried about the pup and her tentative housebrokeness. Finally, I hit the sack at 11 or so, setting the alarm.

Duke the veteran woke me just before dawn. Panting. Not a good sign. I hurried to get dressed, hooked the pup up to the leash and headed out into the early morning hallway. A quiet, not-a-mouse-stirring hallway long before sunup. Both of the veteran dogs sprinted past me and ran down the hallway at top speed. I did my best Lauren Bacall shout, yell-whispering: “HEEL, HEEL, HEEL. DUKE! HEEEL!!”

The pup went one way while I yanked the other, chasing Duke, who was in the lead. Suddenly, NOOOOOO!! I couldn’t believe my eyes, for there was good old Duke, every bit of 11, squatting and deploying a schooner right in the middle of the hall. The door was shut behind me and the GF’s dog running past Duke while he was in full quiver and the pup jerking the leash one way and probably likely to make Mr. Grumpy herself. And a fresh steaming turd in the hallway. What to do? What, indeed, to do?

I figured I had no choice. I bare-handed the turd. That’s right. Bare hand and a steamer.  My left, because the pup’s leash was in my right.

All of this before even a hint of coffee.

We ran down the hallway, down the stairs. HEEEL. DAMMIT. HEEL. At the bottom of the stairs, first floor, a quick Duke detour to deposit another goodie in front of room 105. Bare-handed that one too.

Finally, door to the outside and there stood a fellow just coming in from his early morning cig break. Duke was jumping up and down at the door that this guy was holding shut. “Hey, I didn’t want to let him out until you were here.”

“Yeah, good idea.” Please, please don’t look at my left hand. I’m carrying dog shit in it. Please.

Out into the morning air, sun a long, long way from rise. I scrambled to the parking lot, putting yards behind me and the guy in the lit doorway. The guy just stood there while I held the pup on a leash and Duke sprinted out to do his third act of the play. The pup peed, then pooped. The guy stood there looking at me. Okay, man, go in and shut the door. I need to get rid of this thing. I have a wet, hot turd in my hand. Two of them. Finally, he went in and I pitched Duke’s little gifts behind the dumpster and loaded the dogs into the truck. Ran upstairs as fast as I could to wash my hands.

It was opening day of pheasant. God, I love bird hunting with dogs.

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Direction

Compasses are fascinating things, with much to teach for being an inanimate object. I’m speaking of course, of an analog piece,  little changed for centuries, not the app on your phone.

There can be a number of things that affect the proper reading of a real compass, causing one to lose direction. Unlike your phone, a dead battery isn’t one of them.

compass

The Tru-Nord pin-on compass. Generally more reliable than I am.

Other things in your pocket may be interfering, pulling the needle from true. Take this as a sign that you may have too many things in your pockets, and that it might be time to simplify. Don’t let other things confuse your compass and cause you to lose direction. True direction is the highest priority.

It seems inevitable that cheap compasses develop bubbles over time. These too will affect the needle. Don’t trust your life, whether it be your ultimate safety or only your current direction, to cheap things. You’ll get exactly what you paid for.

Compasses are only useful when you can see them, and the less accessible they are, the less likely you are to use them. Keep your compass handy and refer to it often.

There is an old adage to the effect of, “if you keep checking your course regularly, it’s much harder to get lost than if you wait until you’re not sure where you are.”

Sage advice.

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Filed under Fodder, Keeping it Real, Reloading, Tools of the Trade

To those of you who are here by accident:

Some of you are here intentionally, I know this because I have access to the site stats and you found us using search terms like “chukar hunting blog” or “how to hunt gambles quail.
Many of you will be sadly disappointed, like those of you who came here after searching “hunting breeks.” I’m also sad for those of you who came here while searching for the location of “Giffy Butte.”
It makes perfect sense to me that after “Mouthful of Feathers” and its variants, the most used search term that brought people to MOF is “WTF.” WTF indeed.

A fair number of the searched phrases are questions. I thought I’d answer some of the questions that folks have searched for and ended up at MOF seeking answers.

“What is a ditch parrott?” – Good question. It’s one of those pink decorative birds on a stake that rednecks put in front of their mobil homes.
“What does quail taste like?” – Imagine a marshmallow peep grew up then raised a clutch of little marshmallow peep chicks exclusively on a diet of butter and roasted peanuts. And then, when those baby peeps were as cute as they could possibly be, you ate them.
“What do feathers taste like?” – What kind of sick bastard are you?
“When is too old for bird hunting?” – The people who write here and many of the ones who read this blog would happily breathe their last breath while climbing a scree slope towards a dog on point. So I guess never.
“Is there chukar in Wyoming?” – This is a popular question, so I want to answer it correctly. No. The good news is with your fancy talkin’ skills you goin’ to fit right in in Wyoming.
“When you go pheasant hunting do you eat the birds?” – That’s like asking “When you go to bars, do you drink the beer?”
“Why does a ruffed grouse defecate in one place?” – I like this question and I hope whoever searched for it contacts us to become a contributor. This question has a real hillbilly Confucius feel to it.
“Are nice guns meant to be used?” – Yes. Use it, or give it to me and I’ll keep it safe for you.
“Wtf images?” – Is this a question about our photography or lack of? Some strategically placed punctuation could be really helpful here.
“How to keep a cigarette out of a mouthful.” – Don’t drink out of the urinal. This brings up another point, folks, keep your dogs off the interweb. It’s just not a safe environment for setters.
“What does chukar taste like?” – It tastes like victory. Sweet, delicious victory.
“Is bourbon flaskable?” – Does a ruffed grouse defecate in the woods?

Thanks for stopping by.
GM

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Filed under Fodder, Reloading, Talegate, We might have been jrunk.

An Idaho Scene

Chapter 1: An endorsement for Motel 6, Unless you have an aversion to ponies
Scene: Late night, somewhere in Idaho, a Motel 6 lobby

Hunter – I need a room.

Motel 6 guy – $49.

Hunter – Great. I have a pet.

Motel 6 guy – There is no pet fee. $49.

Hunter – Great.

Hunter hands over payment and waits in awkward silence

Motel 6 guy – Since you have a pet, I’ll put you on the bottom floor.

Hunter – Great. It can be difficult to make a Shetland pony climb the stairs.

Motel 6 guy says nothing. He simply hands over the key and walks away. The Hunter stands alone in the lobby, suddenly wondering what would happen if the setter came face to face with a pony in the hallway.

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