The Purge.

There are those that are diligent about cleaning their gear at the end of the season, putting it all away properly. Truth be told, with the exception of guns, I’m not one of those.

My bird vest usually gets tossed in the closet shortly after chukar ends around the first week of February, and doesn’t emerge again ’till…well, right about now – a few days before the next season starts.

Somewhere in Idaho

Empty purple and yellow shells clink together in the pockets as I take the vest off the hook.

A granola bar wrapper is still in there, which I ate the contents of atop Nunya Peak, as the increasing wind ushered in a black wall of storm in the distance, and the birds called each other into the safety of the cliffs below me. We proceeded to take a few stragglers from the base of that cliff; birds that didn’t heed the call to safety. It was snowing sideways on the way out, and it took a while to find the truck, even longer to regain the feeling in my hands.

There is still a smorgasbord of remnant feathers all mixed together in the back of the vest, representing a rough stratigraphic timeline from early season ruffies at the base, through the solid mid-layer of sharpies and roosters and the occasional Hun, topped off with a dusting of chuks. Dirt, dried grass and twigs hold it all together.

There is that small hole that should probably have been mended (but likely never will be), from where I took a break against a fence post that hid a rusty old square nail, somewhere in southern Montana.

A small projectile point made of chert that I almost stepped on walking the canyon country of Nevada. I stood there for a while after I picked it up, sliding the cool smoothness of it between my thumb and forefinger, taking in a view that extended far, far into the distance.

Drops of dried blood remain on the lining of the game bag, reminding me that this isn’t just a game.

In some weird way, purging my vest of all these things is almost as difficult as accepting the end of another season. I put the vest back in the closet. There are still a few more days before this really needs to be done.

8 thoughts on “The Purge.”

  1. Quail season is right around the corner from us here in Arizona. Fingers crossed that it cools off a little before the end of September opening. No one wants to chase birds in 100+ degree heat. I’ll be cleaning out my vest here shortly…


  2. I don’t like new gear that much. I bought a Wingworks vest this spring and have been wearing it all summer dog training and hiking. Didn’t want to start this season looking like it was my first day of school..

    Probably like many of you, I am suffering. One week to go. Seven days. Six and a wake-up. My dogs are antcy. They know, boy do they know. The waiting. I try to stay busy. But its really busy work. How many times can you clean your shit? Been training my dogs and myself. We all know though, its practice. Training (shooting) on live birds tomorrow. Just a scrimmage. I spend a lot of time jus t sitting thinking, mental rehersing. Waiting Hope the price of gas comes down – or my wife is going to get pissed! She’ll get over it. She always has.

    Seven to go. Six and a wake-up. This is tough!

  3. Bad juju to clean a vest too thoroughly. Never know when you’ll need a ziplock bag of stale raisins and rancid peanuts, Or a couple of (slightly bloodstained) quail body feathers for a few last-minute BWO softhackles.

    Though I did sew up that ripped pocket that I almost lost the walkie out of a couple years ago.

  4. A vest is like a perpetual souvenir of every hunt , which is why I only clear out enough stuff to make room for the newer stuff.

  5. My dog has been laying down barking jags of frustration and boredom at me. We have been in the pre-season training fields to loosen his strides and fill his lungs. Back in the crate as I am closing the door on his protrucing head, his expression seems to say, “Well??” Five days, boy. five days.

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