I saw one grouse here.
One time.
He flushed left to right, a brown phase ruff. Going like a bat out of hell. Carrying the mail, as they say.
I shot about twenty feet behind him and then my little setter burst from the chokecherries with a “did you get him?” look on her face.
Um, no. Sorry. I wanted to. Sorry. I tried.
So every year for the last ten or so years, I spend a bit of time on this old homestead, tromping over old barbwire fences wilting and rusting into nothing. fullsizerenderSeptember sweating up through willows, scratching through gooseberries and raspberries. It’s always a solo trip because there’s only been one grouse in all this time. There have been bears and burrs and brambles. There has been mud and blood and, after, beer. But no grouse. That setter has been buried two years now and I have new one to chase the ghost. Different boots, less hair, more aches. Still going.
Every year. Ten years in a row. Sometimes twice a year. I have never seen another grouse here, ever. But I still go.
What the fuck is wrong with me?

Author: Tom Reed

Four English setters tell me what to do.

9 thoughts on “Ghost”

  1. Hope! That’s what makes you a grouse hunter, perseverance when others would have given up.
    The habitat has changed, after ten years I think you can give it up, you tried.

  2. I find myself returning to the same place, after seeing that one grouse. Returned yesterday, left alone. Thanks for the beautiful words.

  3. I am sitting at my desk. Have not been out bird hunting for over 3 years now because of “other stuff”. Not a damn thing wrong with you.

  4. I am blessed to walk into the same field year after year and hunt the same game. The field is new, the game is new, the earth is new, my dog and I shed our brittle skins and become new. It’s what we do.
    Gorgeous piece here, thank you.

  5. I went hunting in Hawaii for a lot of times, and often over the same ground. I kept looking for birds I had missed, or seen flushing off in the distance. I think we are all haunted by the ghosts we haven’t busted. Who you gonna call?

  6. So true. I always look for fish in certain lies, remembering that one that was there that one time, long past. Never since, but once it was there and now forever it is a place to look, subsequent history inconsequential. Nothing wrong with you brother. You are haunted by memory and it makes you the man, and the writer, that you are.

  7. Nothing is wrong with you. You are a bird hunter, therefore an eternal optimist. If you go there often enough , there will be birds.

Leave a Reply to Nicole Roca Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: