The Reunification of the Clan

I don’t know about you, but I have friends who I rarely spend time with outside of bird season. It has nothing to do with the quality of those friendships; in fact, some of them are the most highly esteemed friends I have. But the intensity of our common love for dogs and big country cause our orbits to overlap around this time, and then the rest of the year life has a way of absorbing us in different directions. We occasionally keep in touch, but rarely do we cross paths until guns come out of the closet and the dogs are more antsy than usual and the sound of a bird busting from cover comes to dominate our thoughts.

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It is that time again, and phone calls are made and e-mails traded and the mutual bonds re-energized as plans are made. But a nagging thought keeps clawing at the back recesses of my hat rack – another year has somehow gone by. It hardly seems real, but I haven’t shot the shit with “___,” I think to myself, since we were walking across that errant CRP field last October, game bags full of sharpies, my dog limping on a raw pad after a long day, a snow storm scudding our direction across the tops of the Big Holes… Jeezus – that was a year ago. A job I couldn’t stand was kicked to the curb where it belonged, new opportunities were created, new friendships, some old ones strained only to be strengthened again, others strained past the point of recovery, too little time spent with family, hopefully a little more perspective on what matters and what’s worth putting energy into… A YEAR.

I do the only thing one can do when such thoughts threaten to steal you from the present – I wipe the late September drip from my cold nose, drop a couple shells in the barrels, and join a friend as we head off toward the horizon, with much to talk about and little that needs to be said.

8 thoughts on “The Reunification of the Clan”

  1. Smitty….Oh yeah… My chukar people have been contacted…we become like zombies chasing these birds…nothing else matters…

  2. Reunification is one of those universal truths among sportsmen. I am finding myself hunting along side friends and dogs that I haven’t seen since the last season closed, while wondering how on earth I made it through the rest of the year without them. It is just how we roll.

  3. Outstanding, Bruce.

    Modern life has cheapened the term friend. Friendships used to be nurtured by actual time spent together doing something meaningful (at least meaningful to us) Now people brush up against someone at work (or dog forbid Facebook) and suddenly they’re calling one another friend, at least as long as it’s convenient.

    Maybe it’s because chasing birds is more to guys like us than just another leisure-time option, but when you catch up with a hunting partner you haven’t seen in ages – while he may be grayer, balder, paunchier – in about ten seconds, time seems to roll backwards and you remember why you call him friend.

  4. All of the reasons I should have met the guys for the sharpie opener in South Dakota this year, but didn’t because of the poor population prognostication. And, now too late, realize that it wasn’t the grouse that were the highlight of the annual ritual, but the grouse hunters.

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