Mouse hunting

The setter people entertain themselves these days by mouse hunting. We take our daily walks on the bench above the home place now in the light of spring, not the dark of winter. North Willow Creek is still fairly clear, but it is coming up and will be over the banks in a few weeks. The ice has abandoned its shoulders. The geese are hooked up and flying in pairs. Mallards jump from the ponds beneath the high ditch and yesterday, I thought I heard the first sandhill of the season.

The classic hard point with two honoring.

My thoughts trend to fishing now and a new six weight in the quiver and a section of the Missouri I haven’t fished yet. Screwing around with a spey rod, as if I need another hobby. Reminds me of when I transitioned to tele from downhill skiing. More crap to buy, more gear. I rounded out the fly rod collection this spring and have a whole box full of articulated streamers.

Hunting is off somewhere on a far rim and if I follow the Solstice Rule–no conversations about hunting are allowed until the days start getting shorter–then I can’t even talk about it. We invented the Solstice Rule to avoid the pain of not hunting, but it really is poor salve for such.

And yet, the major trips are already blocked out for the fall: up to the Front the first week of September, down to Arizona (they are getting a lot of quail rain this spring) in December, Nevada chukar in late October . . . . But now I’m hunting big rainbows and browns and planning summer pack trips. The other day a lady friend and I rode the horses to the Pony Bar and flushed two sets of paired-up Huns on the neighbor’s ranch. I have permission to hunt there. I tried to not think about that–that time so distant.

The finest mouse hunter in all the Realm.

And so, sandhills and trumpeter swans and Candada geese and red-winged blackbirds. The guns are cleaned and gun-safed and the only shooting I’m doing is my .45 Kimber auto at targets. For fun. For something that goes bang. Kind of like how a brown hits a hopper. The smell of sap rises in the cottonwoods and there’s a drift scent of beefsteak sizzling over the alder coals of the season’s first barbecue. It’s gin and tonic season. Spritzer season. I’ll survive.

The setter people? Mouse hunting and chewing on the legs of winter killed whitetails. Damned carnivores.


Author: Tom Reed

Four English setters tell me what to do.

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