Things have gotten busy here for the poetaster's apprentice. little poetry humor there for you.
For those of you who tire of poetry and want real blood and guts, old-fashioned hook-n-bullet accounts of killin' thangs, you'll be glad to hear that I've gone back into the email vault to pull out "reruns" of some sporting classics from bygone days. Seeing as how I appear to be the only one posting anything these days, one of us has to feed the blog. At any rate, enjoy.
ps. I've changed the names of one or two characters on the outside chance they don't want their private hunting experiences as connected to yours truly to show up on google searches and the like. You'll still be able to figure out who they are.
Trip log 2002: Wisconsin-a-ganza, "Part One"Jim again: just like reruns on television, these recycled "sporting classics" will not appear in any kind of special order--basically just as the mood hits me. I invite the rest of you to share your email archives with us as well, although I suppose most of you won't. :-) no matter.
Saturday October 12 am.
Called Dizzy [editor's note: here's the first name change] and Son the night before and made arrangements to rendevous at "The Giant Loon" in downtown Mercer WI at 9am. I wake up early and it's pouring I mean pouring rain. Drive the hour or so to Mercer, then give the lads a courtesy call at 8:30 to see if they still wanted to hunt. Of course they wanted to hunt! And so we did.
Dizzy and Son hunt with a pair of German shorthair pointers named Reba and Vida Blue. These dogges work really well together, and it was also interesting to watch the interactions between Dizzy Sr. and Dizzy Jr. (not technically a junior, younger Dizzy's name is Seth). Seth and I hit it right off--he's an attorney and I play one on TV, so we spent the morning swapping lawyer stories in the rain. Did I mention it was raining?
Sidenote on Dizzy: For those of you unaquainted with the Good Professor's work (I hear some people only read article abstracts to get their degrees), Dizzy is author of [a famous book--ed.] and is someone who helped me with various chapters of my thesis along the way.
Anyhew, in a long day's hunting, I was the only one to kill a bird--two in fact, a grouse that one of the shorthairs caused to fly my way, and a late afternoon wc over a Kate point. By that time the skies had cleared and we were hunting three dogges, although the general noise and hubbub emanating from the shorthair sector was a BIG distraction to the wimpy-assed, overly sensitive, wispy-haired white dogge. Thus we hunted out of earshot of the Dizzys as much as possible.
That night, I rolled into Old Tamarack tired and somewhat wet. Safari Jim had gotten there Friday night, and in a two hour pm solo hunt (Saf. Jim skipped the rain) on Saturday Jim apparently got four easy grouse in the "cherry" Old T. coverts. He left them out in the open for me to see as I drove into camp and was out road hunting for his fifth and limit grouse when I arrived.
That night there was much rejoicing.
Sunday morning Oct. 13.
Safari and I hit the coverts the first morning with Kate as I recall. XMan was due in at 10 am and had left explicit and detailed instructions with Jim to make sure we were there upon his prompt arrival at 10:00. Of course we hunted until 12 and had lunch way before Rico showed up at 2pm. (Note to Rich: hey where the hell are you, we're waiting).
If I'm not mistaken I got two grouse that morning hunting with Jim (Safari?), both over points. Although one was a super sky shot on a bird that Safari had walked in on but had missed, and I was simply in the right place at the right time to get the rebound. (If I was a lab guy, I would now talk about Katie's excellent retrieve. But I won't, except to say that she found that bird a long way from where I took the shot.)
Rich shows up late as I already mentioned. After quick howdy do's, the three of us head out to the coverts for Rico's first hunt, over one of the black and tans as I recall.
(From here on in, the specific details of specific hunts is apt to get a little fuzzy. I'll just give some of the highlights as I remember them. Guess I was gone just TOO DARN LONG to keep it all straight. heh heh.)
Monday Oct. 14.
We hunted. We hunted hard. Somewhere along the way Rich and I drank some scotch. Could have been Sunday night, Oct. 13, into the wee hours of the morning Oct. 14. Like I said, I was either gone too long to keep it all straight, or I drank too much scotch. Both are plausible hypotheses.
Sidenote on Lagavulin: This turns out to be Heberligne's [second name change--ed.] favorite single malt. Go figure.
Sidenote to sidenote: Heberligne will also later speculate about the "interaction effects" between Rico, me, and Lagavulin.
Hunting on the 14th: I'm sure somewhere along the way, Rich killed a grouse over a Katie point. Absolutely textbook, in a perfectly picturesque little glade where grouse should be killed.
I on the other hand, killed a grouse that flushed wild along the trail. I call Kate in to find it, she proceeds to track it furiously uphill on the side of the trail, and after about a minute the beeper indicates she is on the bird. Or should I say, the bird is in her? "Save the eye for me, Katie." I resolve to feed Katie when we return to the cabin.
We also hunted with Safari some on the 14th, as he was leaving (oh so soon Jim?) (heh heh) for a Gordon Setter field trial Tuesday morning. Note to Safari Jim: ask Rich to sing his "Do you want to field trial" cover of a Tom Petty song. Great stuff. I kill a grouse that flushed from a tree while we were looking for a bird that Rich shot over Thor. We never did find Rich's bird.
I guess later that day is when Rich hit his famous woodcock that had been pointed three consecutive times by Katie. This was the bird that before the third point, I say: "If this bird goes up within a hundred yards of the dogge, KILL IT." Of course Rich kills it cleanly over a classic point. Here's what I do: I run over to Rich to give him an overly enthusiastic high five, explaining IN THE VERY ACT OF DOING THIS that I rarely get all "Like wow we killed a bird" high-five-ish after a bird is killed but I was happy for the dogge's effort. Wouldn't you know it that we never found that bird. We looked for close to an hour in waist high grass for it, Katie gave up looking for it, and Tuesday morning Safari Jim and Meg looked for another half hour for it. Moral of the Story: Never Gloat. Never High Five. Stay on the Path. The Red Gods punished us for our arrogance, our hubris, our overweening (over-weenie?) human pride. Lesson learned.
Masaman for dinner that night? can't remember. Yes, Jim was there and cut the veggies for it. Masaman. A good time was had by all.
Tuesday Oct. 15. Safari Jim departs after a morning hunt.
Rico and I hunt and somewhere along the way we kill more birds. I believe that it is THIS afternoon that Rich INSISTS on going to the McCarthy Lake trail--scene of a famous or infamous incident in Grouse Camp History. To wit, the famous "Andy's Ramble" incident. Of course I respond rather weakly with the retort that "that's a morning hunt, Rich," but Rich is not to be talked out of his desire. Dumbass me, I figure, it's Rich's last full day to hunt, so I'll go along with his plan.
We proceed to hunt in the Place of the Dead. Rich remarks somewhere along the way that it is like something out of the Hobbit. Voila! a new covert name: Murkwood. "Don't go off the trail."
"Stay on the path."
At precisely 5:00 pm, I am standing in six inches of water near a beaver pond, listening to Rich command "Jim, STAY. WHOA!" as Rich attempts to find the trail that we had been on until about 4:30 pm. "Rich, that's a morning hunt." "Jim, I wanna hunt McCarthy." "Jim, WHOA! STAY!" Thanks to Rich's excellent woodsmanship, disaster was averted and by 5:30 pm we were both on our way back out to the truck in dwindling light. Somewhere along the way, Rich killed a wc over a nice Katie point. Murkwood claims another victim.
Wednesday, Oct. 16.
Rich and I decide to hunt "Cosmic"--a very large popple stand that had been the site of previous X-Man triumphs two years ago. We found a single wc in that covert in about an hour and a half of hunting. Big disappointment. A Cosmic Bust, you might say.
Fortunately, we recovered for a quick lunch at the truck, and proceeded on to "Jay's Spot," a trail along the Merengo River that Josh and I had discovered on the last trip, but which Jay was already familiar with. With Rich's hunting time diminishing with each passing minute, we walk the trail in, and then cut into the woods to follow some popple and boggy stuff growing on the hillside above the Merengo. Within a minute or two, Kate goes on point. A bird goes up and I promptly shoot it. It goes down. Moments later, a second bird goes up, and I don't remember if Rich got a shot off or not. Anyway, Kate is following the second bird's flight when I call her back to get the downed bird. I see the downed bird on the ground. I debate whether to shoot the downed ground bird, which is sitting up and looking around. I decide against that course of action, call Kate over, and then the bird manages to take flight after Katie spotted it. And with the dog on the bird's tail, I can no longer shoot it. The bird gains speed and altitude and flies practically into the next county.
Damn! I'm cursing and muttering and beating myself up and really angry. Rich says calmly, "Let's just follow the line." Which we proceed to do for 70 or 100 yards. No bird. I'm still cursing and muttering. We let Katie cover the area pretty thoroughly. No bird. At this point I'm ready to give up and ready to show Rich the rest of the covert (this is Rico's last hunt before departure). I desperately want to try to get Rich another bird, but Rich to his credit says, No. Let's just continue the line the bird took and see if it turns up.
Another 100 or so yards downhill, Kate goes on point near a boggy little swale with water trickling down the slope. There's the bird!
And Jim breathes a BIG sigh of relief.
We hunt our way out of the rest of the covert and head for camp. Of course the story would not be complete without mention of Rich's road hunting exploits on the way back: we spot a bird on the road, and as I stop the truck short of it, we see it fly into a balsam on the side of the road. Rich gets out, loads the gun, walks to the balsam, and . . . Rich can tell the story better than me, but suffice to say the first bird that flushed did not distract Rich from the task of killing the second bird with one shell when it flushed. This is this.
End of Wisconsin Grouse Camp 2002, Part One. Next installment, Wisconsin Part Deux: Heberligne arrives.