January wilts and the wind whips. It is cold and dry and barren as an old cow. No winter really, or no snow that is. Doug fir pops in the wood stove and piles of gear lie around the shop, waiting to be stowed. A wall tent, last used a month ago in chukar country, hangs loose in the barn, as if putting it away for the winter is too much, too painful. Or perhaps it is just laziness, nothing more. No special or secret meaning to a tent un-stashed. But it is there and it will stay there for a while longer.
There is one more ahead. One last trip south. The runs there this year have been a thin broth–birds few and scattered wide. Land there as dry and parched as this cold Montana range. But the season is open a few precious days in February and then it’s done. After that point it will be time to stow and clean and repair. Time to give the right knee a break, to run patches through the auto-loader, to let the dogs rest and sleep and gain weight. But there is one more hunt. A meeting with a friend you’ve hunted with hundreds of times, a person who knows your moves and pace as you know his. It is a reunion of friendships, with some drinking, some cigars, lots of laughter. Some new country too, and some old. Good dogs and big hikes. Muscles hard at season’s end and fishing season still off there so far you can’t even imagine it.
Tomorrow and the next day you load the truck and then the next day, you will turn south with 12 hours in front of the hood and then five days of hiking talus and scree, smelling the sage on the dry high desert wind, the big open. Five days. Five last days and then that’s it. There will be time enough ahead for all that other stuff. But now, one more round. And that’s it.
8 thoughts on “One more round”
Well said, Tom
I only have Saturday free for this closing weekend. I hope to enjoy it. Good luck to you, Tom.
Very well stated…one last go! All great things must come to an end!
I work in an office building in Sacramento, CA. In fact, I work in Natomas which is just north of Sacramento, in the rice fields, some of the best pheasant habitat around.
I grew up hunting, family owned German Shorthairs and English Pointers, and we hunted the Sierras for quail, and the valley for quail and pheasants along the rivers and ditches and rice checks.
I have been so busy in college and then work that I have not hunted for almost five years. Yesterday I stumbled upon your blog, and started reading. I went home and got my shotgun out of the closet, found my vest and searched through the pockets, finding 16 gauge shells and quail feathers still in it.
Today I read to the end of your blog. I have read every post on this blog. You guys are amazing writers, and now I can barely concentrate because I need a dog, and I need to start hunting again.
Seriously, what an amazing work this blog is!
I went out for my final hunt yesterday. Hope you all had a great season. Let the waiting begin.
Drying and stretching the last hun,chukar,and quail skins of the season…. will keep a few for tying myself and send the rest off to a Montana flyshop. Had a great year hunting with old friends and new. I will be picking up a new english setter pup in a week. I am so blessed to live in Idaho and have endless bird-hunting and fly-fishing an hour away….. great writing Tom . I have really enjoyed this sight..
Marc, thanks for the great compliment, I’m really glad you enjoy the blog and the writing. As you can tell the mutual love of dogs, bird hunting, the West, good guns and good times are only a few things we share. I appreciate your kind words and speaking for the others writing for this blog, I’m sure they do too.
And yes, let the waiting (and healing) begin.
Cheers! — Tom Reed
Really enjoyable read you guys. I know how fun and exciting, yet sad, the last hunt of the season can be. My last day this past year was spent rushing out early from work to catch what daylight was to be had. My mutt-dog in tow, we snagged a few huns and with the sun setting, made our way home through the sagebrush. A good day all in all if I had to say so myself.