For Those Who Know

It’s stubborn dogs and disappointed spouses, pigeon shit and pissed off neighbours. It’s early morning training sessions and an ever-growing to-do list. It’s puppy blues and terrible twos, pocket kibble and “it gets better” promises. It’s failure and frustration, two steps forward and four steps back. It’s ecollars and kennels, bells and beepers, leashes, launchers and leads. It’s living on good credit and bad coffee, staring out the windshield with half-lidded eyes. It’s out of date maps and middle of nowhere flats, busted ball joints, bent rims and blown fan belts. It’s scraped skid plates and gas price laments, dusty dead ends and permission denied. It’s heatstroke under an all-conquering sun or frostbitten fingers and sideways sleet sting. It’s thistles and thorns and slivers, sand and grit, mud and blood and sweat and tears. It’s rattlesnakes and forgotten snares, badger holes, barbed wire and “Are they bluffing?” bears. It’s tailgate trauma centres, porcupine quills and vet bills. It’s the ghost of gone dogs and all the heartbreak you can handle.

All for a few fleeting moments here at the confluence of nose and scent, where lead just might meet wing and time holds in brief suspension before the blur beckons and begins again.

And if you can’t find the beauty in that . . .

Well, you wouldn’t be here would you?

He say “I know you, you know me”

It’s one thing to meet another bird hunter in October at a gas station, motel or greasy spoon diner. The frayed field pants, the whistle around the neck, the pick up with the Vari Kennel in the back, a blaze orange Purina hat – you don’t have to be The Amazing Friggin’ Kreskin to figure out you share a good deal of common ground.

But in the summer, whether it’s at the boat ramp, a wedding reception or just an evening stroll around the local rec fiHigh fiveeld, crossing paths with another heretofore unknown bird hunter sends little jolts of contentment deep into the remaining Sulci of your brain.

The first step in the conversation begins when the other dude somehow establishes he’s a hunter or that he, too, owns a springer/setter/shorthair/pointer. From there, the discussion unfolds along a fairly predictable, but altogether pleasant, path. You talk dogs, birds, guns, favorite writers, trainers, a wicked cool little blog called Mouthful of Feathers, even local covers if he happens to be local.

Almost always, when the conversation closes, there’s the sense that you made – if not a friend – at least a new ally. Somebody who thrives on that smell that emanates from a just-fired shotgun, who enjoys those long hikes back to the truck, who’s made hero shots and missed the gimmes.

Somebody a lot like you.

– Matt Crawford

%d bloggers like this: