Fall has set.
Come to pass are the barren branches of winter trimmed in frost and the gray light of a shallow sun.
The best days are gone – though with fortune some remain far ahead.
We are threadbare. The months and years have been hard. The cold is less inviting and the wanderlust, while not subdued, is somewhat satiated.
Beneath the sage and the basalt, the earth itself seems to slumber.
The lean time of the year has come and the urgency is gone out of us.
For the first time in a while, the end is not only a thing to be looked on with sadness.
Maybe part of what makes the thing so special is the long break in which we cannot participate in the chase, but are relegated to yearn.
In the sparseness of the final weeks, like the leaves of the coverts, we have been slowly stripped the of need to stretch.
Let it snow. Let the wind howl and the cold deepen.
The land rests, and so shall we.
Author Archives: Greg McReynolds
Fall has set.
There’s half an hour of shooting light left but with the snow blowing in it might as well be midnight. A handful of chukar call from across the canyon to the half-dozen a hundred feet above me.
A few minutes ago, my young setter got an honest-to-goodness point on this covey of 15 or so birds before they broke and flushed wild.
I was above her, looking down when I saw her go on point.
I’m still out of breath from the hillside sprint toward her.
It was like being the weakest link on the seventh-grade mile-relay team all over again, pushing as hard as I could and still watching it slip away.
It wasn’t her fault though. These are tough birds, tricky in the best of conditions and difficult for even seasoned dogs to pin down.
I got close enough to see them flush at least. And we saw some light halfway up the slope where we now repose.
It was pure adrenaline that got us up here and as it starts to darken, I wonder how I’m going to get back down the snowy slope without sliding on my ass through the mud and the muck.
I can see the road at the bottom and on the other side I can just make out the hillside where we started a few minutes before.
My legs are burning from the climbing, my feet are soaking wet, the truck is parked a mile down the road and I haven’t fired a shot.
But the young dog got a point on chukar and I’ll call that a win.
So when the birds above me answer the call of their covey mates across canyon and fly directly over my head, silhouetted against the billowing white snow clouds, I don’t even raise my gun.
I didn’t come to pass shoot them.
I came to see them pointed and for now, it’s enough.
But then they crossed in front of us and the plan changed. Maybe 15 or 16 huns, flying low, dropping into a piece of public ground a few hundred yards in.
I grabbed a pocketful of 7.5s and a shotgun, no time for hats or vests.
I let Luna out with a few whispered pleas of “easy” as we slipped into the sage.
Two coveys flushed, 100 yards ahead of the dog.
We hunted the edge to the corner and watched as she made a high-speed swing across the stubble, coming to a hard stop on a fence line 200 yards ahead.
A short sprint later we slowed, walked in and huns rose in formation and swung to my left, as if they too wanted me to make a shot.
The stars aligned and two birds fell, one a runner that my young pup chased down and picked up, bringing it within about 10 feet of me before dropping it and watching in confusion as it darted away again.
This post comes to us from Steven Brutger, a good friend and bird hunting buddy of MOF. We can’t tell if he’s making fun of himself, of a certain type of hunter, or of us specifically. Regardless, it’s funny.
Mouthful of Shit
By Steven Brutger
Scent fills her nostrils. Her tail cracks back and forth like a windshield wiper. She quarters into the wind. My finger creeps near the safety.
Her ancestors, training, years of experience all lead to this moment. Muscles ripple down her sides as she hones in on the target. A lone, compact turd of cow shit.
Without missing a stride she scoops it up, swallows and quarters.