Target Clientele?

Me: “Hi. I’d like to please be removed from your mailing list?”

Well-Spoken Southern Accent Customer Service Girl: “Ok sir, I can do that for you, but can I please ask why you’d like to not continue to be informed about our fine offerings?”

Extremely Polite Southern Accent Customer Service Girl: “Hello, welcome to “_______.” How can I help you?”

Me: “Yeah, hi. I’m not sure how I got on your mailing list, but I’d like to be removed, please.”

EPSACSG: “Ok sir, I can do that for you, but can I ask why you’d like to not continue to be informed about our fine offerings?”

Me: “Uh, you’d like to know why I don’t want to receive your catalog?

Well, since you’re asking…to be honest, I don’t think I’m exactly your “target clientele.” You see, I live in the West, and hunt for wild birds on public lands, on foot. I’ve never been to a private $7k/week plantation lodge. In fact, I’m pretty sure that someone in a position of influence would make sure I never even made it to the front door of such an establishment.


Nor have I ever been transported from one planted bird location to another in a horse-drawn carriage. Do those things have a wet bar?

I’ve also  never faced the peculiar dilemma of which sportcoat I should pack for standing around the fireplace after a day “afield,” while discussing my many and varied accomplishments in both the realm of canned hunting and finance.

Also…Are you still there?”

EPSACSG (practiced politeness eroding quickly):I am, sir.”

Me: Great. Also, I can’t ever imagine myself in a pair of your $200 bright green jackass slacks with the embroidered Labradors and ducks on them. In fact, I would fully expect that these pants come with a clown nose, a ball gag and a pair of handcuffs. Is this true, or are these accessories extra?”


Me: “Hello? Ma’am? I still have a few more reasons I’d like to share… Hello?”


This is not a dog.
This is a nuclear-powered starship headed for another galaxy. It is only coincidence that brings her to earth where she will flush birds at high speed and low regard until she escapes from gravity and continues on her interstellar journey.
Iphone hunting
A covey of sharptails explodes like cosmic dust in front of her and for a moment, while their trajectory lines with her own, she gives chase. When they turn, she stays her course, occasionally leaping sage brush and other obstacles with the glee and grace of a cape wearing nine-year-old.
I watch her turn in a long loop, not because she is re-centering on me, but because she was running out of field and had no choice but to alter course.
“She’ll settle in,” I tell myself, just before she blasts through a covey of huns without so much as easing off the accellerator. A few days ago, she pointed a covey of huns so perfectly, so steady and confidently, that this disregard for her pointing accumen is startling to me.
I whistle her in and try to settle her down but when I turn her loose, I can already tell that she is going to make another break against the bounds of gravity.
So when she blows through another covey of sharpies then proceeds to flush two dozen pheasants one after another without even tapping the brakes, I know that last week was not a turning point, but an anomally.
And so we go home, back to the check chord.
Back to the blue grouse and the huns on the road, back to known birds, back to “whoa” in the garage and yard work.
Back to school for both of us, learning to pilot a rocket ship.

The inmate needs constant supervision

During her evening yard walk, she must be shackled or watched by an armed guard.
Around the cell block, they whisper about her, “Her dad was a badger,” they claim when she’s out of ear shot. “No,” another says, “the sire was a setter, the dam was a beaver.”
One of the things that got her here in the first place was stealing stuffed animals from children and then mauling the stuffing out of said stuffed animals.
On more than one occasion, she has literally taken candy from a baby. As you would expect, she found it rather easy.
She’s jumped bail so many times that she doesn’t even have another parole hearing for a month.
Still, it doesn’t faze her much.
Even now – the tail end of a bird-dog summer – she lives life like a tethered rocket. You can shorten the rope but she’ll just run faster laps.
And time in the box can’t break her spirit.
Not that she hasn’t been there often enough for violations like digging, chewing, chasing, destroying and insolence.
Given even a moment of freedom, she will dig a crater-sized hole, remove whatever plant material that previously resided there and mulch it.
It happens so quickly that the guard often pleas on behalf of the inmate, sure that he has not fallen asleep on watch.
“It couldn’t have been her,” the guard says, not quite meeting the glare of the warden while hanging his head in shame.
He begins his protest anew, then glances at the inmate and sees the white paws covered in dirt.
So he turns away and goes to get a shovel.
He takes the inmate with him.

Pre-Game Strategies

They are out there, even as we speak, going over the playbooks. Refining tactics. Brainstorming new evasive maneuvers. Reviewing the videos from last season. Running scrimmage.

But that’s ok. We’ve been doing the same.

The one thing you can count on is that the bastards won’t be the least bit sportsmanlike.

Some prefer to hunt in groups, walking abreast in a regimented grid pattern, throwing enough collective lead on a single flush that no one knows who actually connected. Not to mention that what would have been edible is now likely sluiced. I guess it’s a social thing. And that approach certainly works, but frankly, I think I’d rather drink light beer and slam my dick in a door.

Give me tangled, twisted bottom lands and a fast-moving pointer who can 180˚ on a dime. A dog who amazes me, just often enough, at his ability to beat them at their own wily game. Just the two of us, scrapping it out through dank ditches and walls of willow and boot-sucking mud, hitting the margins and forgotten corners, far from the crowds. Emerging with tails sticking out of the game bag, covered in the mire and vegetation of their little jungle and looking like extras on the set of Apocalypse Now.

Bring it.


Dove: it's what's for dinner...

First, a disclaimer: I’m fully aware that whitewing doves aren’t considered “upland” in the classic sense.  But here in our state of Hellfire Apocalypse Formerly Known as Texas, I am forced to write about them because it’s 112 degrees and quail are now extinct and ditch parrots may be too, but I haven’t looked.

So here’s how it goes.

Twenty years ago, we had to drive way south to hunt whitewings. There were huntable numbers in the Rio Grande Valley, but the proper flyways were in Mexico. In those days there were lodges in Tamaulipas staffed by wonderfully accommodating folks who would fetch your birds and hand you margaritas and nachos when your barrel became too hot to touch.

In December of 1983, an Arctic blast descended upon the Rio Grande Valley and wiped out massive groves of citrus trees that were favored nesting habitat for whitewings. Everyone assumed that would be the end of the Texas population, but instead of moving south to join their Mexico brethren, they began trickling north. They first showed up in San Antonio around 1990. They liked the massive liveoaks for nesting, the adjacent grain fields, and the abundance of backyard bird feeders. By 1995 they were in Austin, in 2000 they arrived in Dallas. And now they’re everywhere. In San Antonio, alone, the population is now 50 times as big as it ever was down in the Valley.

Grainfield in a can

They adapted, and so did we.

Nowadays, instead of sitting on a tank dam and waiting for a trickle of mourning doves, we gather around large fields adjacent to urban whitewing concentrations and wait for the daily assault. The first waves normally leave the towns around 7:30 am. They fly high and cautious and if you’re good with a full choke, they make a really neat “thud” when they auger in from the stratosphere. If you’re lucky enough to be in the field in which they want to feed, they come in undulating waves, juking and dive-bombing at eye level and making fools of those that forgot to switch from full to improved. While the bag limits aren’t as liberal as they once were in Mexico, it’s still a lot of fun, especially when your dog that once pointed quail discovers that shagging birds in a manicured farmfield ain’t as lame as it sounds.

Not shooting at quail

And what happened to the once fertile whitewing grounds in Mexico? I’m guessing that the birds are still there, but the lodges are now shuttered and the blenders are idle and those once accommodating locals will now shoot you in the face for no plausible reason.

Hey Gringo, fetch your own dang birds...

Week-old chukar

It was a romantic dinner. Candlelight. A fire crackling in the woodstove, splashing orange shadows on the walls of the old ranch house. A decent Malbec. Some tunes.
And chukar. Sauteed in olive oil with an excellent mild curry paste added on low-simmer. Red peppers, cloves of garlic, slivers of sweet onion. Served on a bed of rice. Delicious white, wild meat, spiced just right. A most successful evening.
A week later, my old die-hard bachelor habits resurface. I dig in the refrigerator, find the remnants of that spectacular meal. I’d sent half home with my lady and she prudently ate it the very next day for lunch. My half I forgot about and now, like a treasure discovered at a garage sale, it resurfaces. Eureka! I’m not shoveling in microwave popcorn after all.
When was that meal anyway? I wonder, asking my canine friends. They don’t remember. Surely this has still got to be good, right? They agree. Offer to eat it for me.
Without female wisdom this night to guide me, I dive in.
I can put it on a tort! Melt some cheese! Dab a little Indian hot relish to top it off!

And so I do. And it turns out well. Nearly as delicious as the first time, with only the lovely company lacking.
Two hours later, a rumble. Hark! What was that? Distant thunder. A crack of gastric lightning! Silence rent with a sound much like a stepped-on frog. From under. Fumunder. What?! I’m tore up. Battered in a bile hailstorm!
I sprint from bedroom to bath and fling porcelain out of my way. An explosion! Then silence. A thunderclap!! Another! What?!
Two hours later, I shiver and sweat in bed, timidly sipping water, awaiting the next distant rumble and thinking: Goddamndable chukar partridge. Even in the off-season, they win. Little bastards.

Jackets are the answer

It’s cold.
Seeing as it’s winter, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Apparently surprises the shit out of a lot of people though.
They are so surprised that many of them forget how to drive, or how to dress, or even how to take it in stride.
They forget how to talk about anything else. Don’t they know there are two weeks left in the quail hunting season? Or that ice on the river concentrates the ducks?

When you live in the Rockies above 5,000 ft, you have to know that’s it’s going to get cold sometimes.
The thing is, so many people never do more than brave the cold between their car and the front door of their office.
It makes them soft.
Unless they’re hunters that is.
If you have pounded through the snow clenching a 7lb chunk of frozen steel in your hands while following a deliriously happy dog, then what’s a little cold weather?
If you have felt your truck do the diagonal slide, where you look a bit like a crooked-gaited hound dog going down the road and asked your buddy, “We have a shovel, right?” Then what’s a little snow on the roads?
If you have knocked the ice off of your fly-rod guides so you could get an extra couple of feet on your cast, or sat shaking in the frigid predawn dark listening to elk, or taken off your gloves to cut the ice balls out of your dog’s toes, then what’s a single digit temperature mean to you?
It’s winter.
It’s what happens in the mountains.
It’s cold.
So what.

– GM

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