Saturday, October 15, 2011

Gypsy Autumn

I imagine that if your reading this, your a like minded individual. Someone who loves dogs, birds, double guns, and spending time with all three in the field. So it should come as no surprise to you that on these long middle eastern nights when I am far from home, I like to think about and plan my, for lack of a better term "dream hunt". My dream hunt isn't going to be about harvesting huge numbers of birds, you see numbers don't always tell the whole story. This hunt is going to be more about the process of healing and getting away from the drudgery's and stress of everyday life, and if numbers are the focus then I guess I would have missed the point.

My hunt would start in the "Land of Living Skies" otherwise known as Saskatchewan, where my dogs and I would test ourselves against the Hungarian Partridge and Sharp tailed Grouse of this Northern Canadian Province. There is something about the Saskatchewan Prairie that appeals to my soul. The province covers 227,100 square miles and the horizon extends for so long one might think they could see all the way to Alberta.

From Canada I would drop down south to hunt the prairies of Montana. Ever since I was a boy and first learned of the Lewis and Clark expedition I have been captivated by the idea of exploring that much land and the wonderful loneliness they must have felt as they travelled it. The romantic in me wishes I could have made that trip and seen just how beautiful this country must have been before man changed the landscape forever.

After Montana I would head east to try my hand at the Ruffed Grouse or the "King" as some would like to name this medium sized partridge. So much has been written about the Ruffed Grouse I think you would be remiss by not attempting to hunt this noble bird at least once. I am not sure what state I would chose to pursue the king. Most folks say that Minnesota is the top Ruffed Grouse–producing state in the U.S. But being a fan of the late Burt Spiller and his classic book "Drummer in the Woods" I would most likely be inclined to hunt Burt's home state of New Hampshire.

Lastly I would find myself back in my home state of Kansas, chasing Gentleman Bob and his companion the track star like Pheasants that seem to constantly baffle my dogs. I dont blame them though. I am without a doubt enthralled with the west and everything that comes with it. But I imagine I will always keep coming back to Kansas. Maybe its family that keeps me coming back. Or maybe there is a beauty to Kansas that I just can't explain. Either way it's home and always will be.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Waiting on November

The past few weeks have been harder on me than I care to admit. Time has been ticking by terribly slow, and this is worsened by the fact that my mind seems to be constantly dwelling on my upcoming leave. I have many things to look forward to over leave. Holding my wife in my arms again is high on that list, as is spending half an afternoon throwing the football with the boys. Shaking my Fathers hand and giving my Mom a big hug, is up there as well. I look forward to doing all these things and many more when I get back stateside. But most of all I am looking forward to my first real Father and Son hunt with Hunter my youngest son. Hunter is 11 now and is in his first year of middle school. A time in his life when friends, football, video games, and girls all become more important than dear ole dad. I'll accept this as a phase that happens to all boys and gladly take advantage of him asking me to take him Quail hunting with me this fall.

Hunter and I have never made it on a hunt together before. I was supposed to take him a few times on a Turkey hunt, but never got around to it. (Something I plan on remedying this spring) We have attended a few field trials together and we both enjoyed the time spent together. But I just cant wait to share with him my passion for hunting behind a good dog on a cool autumn morning. I hope that he loves the anticipation of walking in on a dogs point and experiencing the thrill and surprise of a covey of Bob's rising at his feet as much as I do. I fondly remember my first hunt with Grandpa and a few of his friends and how special I felt when they treated me just like one of them. I plan to make Hunter feel just as special as Grandpa and his friends did with me. And I sincerely hope that this is the first of many days to come. November just can't get here fast enough.