Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Redemption at Jim's Comeuppance...and the House of Pain

I went to the Finger Lakes National Forest with Rich on Sunday to find Artemis a woodcock or two. It was the first woodcock hunt of the season for Artemis, having been benched for the Grouse Camp odyssey due to her master's absence from the continent.

I met Rich at the Ballard Pond parking area.

We decided on "Jim's Comeuppance " as the covert de jour, and we were off. Light wind, 54 degrees, 3:15 pm. I was wearing LL Bean Cords with chaps over top, a stylish custom art collector's item orange t-shirt, and an Orvis strap vest, topped by a bright orange "Ugly Dog Hunting" hat. I carried my LC Smith 12 ga Ideal grade, loaded w 7 1/2s. Rich was also properly kitted up, though perhaps a tad over-layered.

We hunted through the "Walk in the Park" portion of the covert, and though Miss got birdy a few times, produced nothing. We came to the flats at the bottom of the slope and made our way towards the corner, where I shot a grouse two years ago. Artemis, up a head, came to a sharp halt and a woodcock exploded up and away. The wind, I thought-- she over-ran the scent. Moments later, Rich shouted "bird." A re-flush. Rich thought he knew where the bird put down, so we steered Miss around. She came into a nice point and Rich and I approached. As luck would have it, the bird came out my way. Bang bang. I actually saw the wings, both of them, fall. Feathers floated down behind. Miss was pointing a blob on the ground. I picked up the wings, for science. Rich offered good-naturedly that perhaps the birds needed to be let further out before shooting. Rich is full of good, sage advice like that.

So we had shot one woodcock. We continued on, and were presented one or two more shooting opportunities that resulted in no birds. Then, we reached the hardwood edge and Miss was convinced that we'd find grouse there. I did not doubt her, but this was a woodcock hunt. So we shinnied over the fence towards what I used to call "deeper in" but has now been re-christened by Rich and I as "House of Pain." Here, there is penance and purgatory for any and all that require it. You will hurt if you hunt in there. Mike O'Connor experienced this covert three years ago. He said it hurt. I have never disagreed. I will let Rich speak for himself on this.

We were flummoxed by a grouse repeatedly, both Rich and I missing shots at the wily rapscallion. Miss drug us through every hidey-hole, every multiflora rose thicket, every Devil's Walking Stick. Shots were missed; shots were made. I added another woodcock to my bag. As did Rich. More shots were missed. You would pull up for the shot and be raked across the face and hands by any number of razor sharp blessings of nature. Unlike those hunts where one hears groans after the shots, here, in the House of Pain, one hears groans and shrieks intermittently, especially as the bird flushes and the shot is attempted...

Finally we had had enough. We exfiltrated, got out while we still could, bloodied and stumbling, but somehow satisfied, as flagellant priests during lent. We worked our way back through the flats, past the pond, up the slope with spruces and the walk in the park. We were walking languidly now, enjoying the sunset. Miss was hunting, rather aimlessly. We had that "end of hunt" stupor going. I mentioned to Rich the famous comeuppance bush, and told Rich the story of Jim's Comeuppance. As I pointed at the bush for emphasis, Artemis approached it, slinking a bit. "It was just like that, but it was Kate" I said... and Artemis slammed into a point. I was speechless. Rich walked to the outside and I volunteered to go into the bush on my hands and knees to try to flush the bird up and his way. As I began crawling in, Artemis adjusted to the right. As I began to straighten my back to stand, the bird flushed out and away to the right. A snap shot and it was down. "That one was for Jim, and for Kate" I thought.

Thanks to Jim and his generosity in showing me this covert, I have had, almost annually, a good afternoon outing here. It is a once a year covert for me (for woodcock), one that I was glad to share with Rich this year. We enjoyed a magnificent sunset at the top of the hill, sitting on the foundation of the old farm house that once stood over the coverts. We enjoyed some tobacco and some rum, made plans for our four woodcock, and parted ways.


Anonymous said...

what's all this about flatulent priests??

KGT (aka Cagey) said...

C'mon, if you are gonna make cracks about flatulent priests, you should stop hiding behind the "anonymous" moniker. You can do it...step into the 21st century. Its a brave new world...


Ever and anon said...

once in a while it's nice to be anonymous.

on the topic of flatulent priests, the 1915 novel Belthane the Smith contains the following reference:

"Abate thee, friar, abate!" roared Giles, "cease thy rumbling, thou empty wine-butt. An thou must deal in curses, leave them to one more apt and better schooled--to Giles, in faith, who shall forthwith curse thee sweet and trippingly as thus--now mark me, monk! Aroint, aroint thee to Acheron dark and dismal, there may the foul fiend seize and plague thee with seven and seventy plaguey sorrows! May Saint Anthony's fire frizzle and fry thee--woe, woe betide thee everlastingly--(bate thy babble, Prior, I am not ended yet!) In life may thou be accursed from heel to head, within thee and without--(save thy wind, Prior, no man doth hear or heed thee!) Be thou accursed in father and in mother, in sister and in brother, in oxen and in asses--especially in asses! Be thou accursed in sleeping and in waking, eating and drinking, standing, sitting, lying--O be thou accursed completely and consumedly! Here now, methinks, Sir Monkish Tunbelly, is cursing as it should be cursed. But now--(hush thy vain babbling, heed and mark me well!)--now will I to dictums contumacious, from cursing thee I will to song of thee, of thy plump and pertinacious person--a song wherein shall pleasant mention be o' thy round and goodly paunch, a song that shall be sung, mayhap, when thee and it are dusty dust, O shaveling--to wit:

"O frater fat and flatulent, full foolish, fatuous Friar
A prime plump priest in passion seen, such pleasure doth inspire,
That sober souls, 'spite sorrows sad, shall sudden, shout and sing
Because thy belly big belittleth baleful ban ye bring.
Wherefore with wondrous wit withal, with waggish wanton wiles,
I joyful chant to glorify the just and gentle Giles."

Anon again:
can an empty wine-butt be a fat flatulent friar? discuss.

Path Walker said...

snappy shooting. Enjoy those doodles!