Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Flying solo

I used to be a diehard deer hunter.  Sitting hours on end high up in a tree, all by myself, waiting for the buck of my dreams to sneak by, was how I spent just about any time I could get away.  I still like to deer hunt, but it is now more of a way to pass the time when waterfowl season isn't open, as well as to insure the stockpile of tasty venison doesnt get too low.  As I tell my friends, I used to think I really loved to hunt, but what I have learned is that I really like to get up early on cold mornings to drink coffee, smoke cigars, watch dogs work and maybe shoot a duck or a goose every now and then.  Some of my favorite moments not spent with family have been with good friends in less than exotic locations doing just that.  Early season is generally a very festive time with my hunting friends.  Often we enjoy hunts for resident geese, in standing corn, where we can hide sometimes 10 or more guys.  How we manage to shoot anything is a mystery, as we are generally too busy laughing and trying to keep our cigars lit than actually looking for birds.  The same could be said for dove shoots in big cut silage fields, taunting each other and critiquing shooting performance.  It is a social event beyond compare.  So I guess that is what made this hunt very different, but still very enjoyable.

After a nice goose hunt with a close friend on Friday, I made plans to hunt with him and another partner on Saturday, the opening day for teal.  However, one guy "never got the message" (or so he says), and partner number one remembered at the last minute a family commitment that would preclude him from hunting.  With these developments, I had two choices: sleep in or go by myself.  While tempting, the choice was easy.  I have a hard time NOT hunting when season is open, the days of sleeping in are over until February.  Roux and I headed out and set up on a small farm pond in a cow pasture.  We made short work of getting set up and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise all to ourselves.  Soon after sunrise, a large flock of geese gave us a look, but circled and headed out, safely out of range.  I was troubled by this development, and was looking around to see what the problem was, when a small flock of geese came from over my right shoulder.  I sat up and shot twice, dumping 2 geese into the pond, swung on a third but my gun wouldn't fire...seems I was enjoying the sunrise so much that I only put 2 shells in.  I must be slipping...  Roux made 2 fine retrieves to hand.

Bringing one back!
We barely had time to congratulate ourselves and get back in the blinds when a small duck buzzed the decoys and banked back around, showing his big blue shoulder patches.  When he passed me again, I fired as he crossed the pond levee.  I could see he was hit, and I watched as he crash landed 150 yards out in the pasture.   I stood up to line Roux up for a blind retrieve, but a honk over my shoulder made me hit the deck.  Another small flock of geese was making a bee line for the pond, and I let them get out in front with feet down before I sat up.  An honest triple followed, and my limit of geese was done. Roux looked at me and waited for the call to go.  I sent him and he made three beautiful retrieves, ferreting one goose out of thick weeds on the opposite side of the pond.  Next we walked to the pond levee and I lined him up on the last place I saw the teal.  I sent him and 2 whistles later I saw his head whip around and his tail go crazy.  He lunged into some tall weeds, and trotted back with a perfect blue wing teal in his mouth.  I looked at my watch,  7:40 AM.  Not a bad morning, for sure.  We hastily took some pictures and picked up, hoping to leave any other birds wanting in undisturbed.

Roux was very proud of himself.  I was proud of him, too.

I dont hunt waterfowl very often by myself, far preferring the raucous company of the best friends a guy could ask for.  However, this hunt was very special to me.  Just Brown Dog and me, doing what we both love so much.  Not sure I would change it, even if I could.  My only regret was that my only witness to shooting 6 birds with 6 shots was Roux...and he ain't talking.  Oh well.

Not bad for 40 minutes of hunt time!
Until next time, remember,

Brown is Beautiful

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