I see him disappear as he drops off the cut bank and into the river, purely intending to cool off. By “river” I’m referring to the South Fork of the Snake, currently running at 12,000 cubic feet per second.
The uninterrupted force of the river is cranking along the undercut bank where he went in. There is a tangled strainer of logs and debris just downstream, reaching out like a wicked, gnarled hand dragging long fingernails across the galloping surface of the torrent.
I sprint. He’s clawing at the bank without purchase, and then I see him starting to get sucked under and swept. His eyes go wide as dinner plates as the reality of his predicament dawns on him. Somehow sinks through that knuckle-headed pointer cranium of his. It’s a look I’ve never seen on his face, and my own probably didn’t look much different.
I dive to the edge of the bank, grab a fistful of collar and pluck him from the current with little time to spare. Fall on my ass.
I think about what would have happened if I hadn’t been right there, and able to respond so quickly. What if I was still back in the cottonwoods, looking for morels, as I had been just minutes before? He’d be gone. Pinned below the undercut, or swept into the strainer. I’d have lost my bird dog.
On terra firma again, he shakes the water off and tears off back into the forest, following the onslaught of spoor that rules his better judgement. Living as he always does – entirely in the moment. I give up on the morels and decide to call it a day. Too dry anyway.
He was fully immersed in his second favorite thing to do in this world – chasing a tennis ball.
Without warning, he abandoned his second favorite thing to do in this world, which could only mean one thing. He hooked a hard left and headed toward the houses, nose to the ground, inhaling scent at a full run.
From a distance, it was obvious he was on point.
A standoff had ensued. The fowl held its ground briefly, before making a fatal mistake.
As the yardbird turned and ran, the shorthair was on it in seconds, shaking the life out of it.
We’ve been politely invited to help our neighbor build a new fence.
A serving of homegrown footage courtesy of our buddy, Brian Huskey. Pour a couple fingers of brown liquor, kick back and enjoy a little off-season succor. Er, chukar, that is…
The BHA 2013 Rendezvous will be held in Boise, ID – March 22nd to the 24th.
It will be another great weekend rich in how-to and DIY backcountry hunting and fishing seminars, information on advocating for your favorite piece of backcountry, excellent food, exciting auction and raffle items, and of course, time to visit with other members.
Jason Hairston, the former NFL linebacker turned revolutionary gear manufacturer (co-founder of Sitka Gear and more recently founder of KUIU) will be this year’s Keynote Speaker.
BHA works hard to protect the backcountry integrity of our public lands and our hunting and fishing opportunities. Please show your support, and attend if you can!
For a full schedule of events, click here.
To register, click here.
Please note that the registration deadline is March 4th.
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.