Tuesday, October 30, 2012

30-minute epic

Sunday afternoon, misty, foggy, Sandy on the way. Nolan's been plugged into the d!@#$% I Pad.
Must... Get... Kid... OUTSIDE! 

I offer a walk in the woods to check on our deer stands --- naaah. I offer to take away the Ipad until further notice if he doesn't get his boots on and meet me at the door --- whi-i-i-i-i-ining. How about we get Brody and look for a bird? -- Okay. (... ev-er-y-one's a win-nah!)

Okay then.  A bell & beeper, vest and shotgun, and a bit o' orange, and out the door.

Up past the barn to the red maples where we've found woodcock in prior seasons. Brody finds old scent - stop and go, searching.  Stopping long enough to activate the beeper, but no woodcock this time.  

He hunts farther down the maple stand, and bumps into a woodcock and gives chase to the edge of the big woods.  I give him a little "what-for" and we resume the hunt down the hill along the edge of the old field, to the other old field edge below the house.  Nolan and I scoot along, keeping pace while Brody works in and out of the woods, making bell music as he rolls along.  

Pretty soon he stops in the woods near the trail where Richie Feller and Angela dragged a deer out last fall.  Nolan and I follow this other music, SportDOG's bobwhite electronica, to the source -- Brody on point.

Nolan stays tight behind me as I walk wide around the dog and come in for the flush.  A timberdoodle whistles high for the sky, my gun barks, and the red gods smile. The bird plummets while feathers float softly to the ground as we walk toward Brody and the retrieve. The off-season retrieve training has been paying off, as last year he would've more likely mouthed the bird whereas now he's retrieving to hand.  Woodcock, at least -- still more work to do for consistency on grouse. I take the bird from Brody, and Nolan takes it from me to inspect and carry. Nolan is impressed with the shot, and I disguise my relief. With any luck, we won't find another bird.

But we do.  Brody works farther along the woods/field interface and into a little popple peninsula that juts into the field. This spot has held both woodcock and grouse in the past.  Into the aspen goes the dog, and out runs a deer -- a good-size one, but I couldn't tell whether it sported antlers or not. Ahead, bobwhite beeps are interspersed with tinkerbells, and Nolan and I follow Brody into the aspens. We approach Brody on point, and a woodcock lifts off out ahead, and glides across the field and down into the woods from which we just came. No shot. 

We continue on as before, working into the north breeze, and after we take just a few steps Brody's on point again. This time he's in the edge of the field pointing down into the woods to our left.  As we walk over a little knoll, Nolan get's a good look at the dog and we stop to admire the scene and discuss strategy. And the plan is a simple one -- I walk just inside the woods as Nolan trails along at the field edge. 

Our plan works to a tee, as the woodcock flushes away north down the field edge, with Nolan getting the perfect view.  My first shot misses behind to the right, but the 2nd barrel centers the bird and it falls. We wait as Brody goes for the retrieve, finds the bird, and brings it with speed right back to hand. Nolan, of course, is all proud of his dog, and full of questions about shooting -- were the shots hard? which one was harder? why'd you miss? 

We agree that two woodcock are enough today, no need to hunt further. We walk up the field to the house to get into dry clothes and warm up by the woodstove.  Our little hunt couldn't have turned out better, and I bet Nolan will remember it long after he's forgotten whatever game he was playing on the Ipad. The hunt will be re-lived at Thanksgiving when we eat these birds (prepared according to Pete's interpretation of March Woodcock). Oh, and Nolan's been jonesing to go turkey hunting next spring down in PA (thankyou PGC for the Under 12 Mentored Hunt Program!).  Time to look into youth sized shotguns... but that's another story.

Brody, Nolan, and two timberdoodles


Anonymous said...


Wonderful write-up, and great memories made for you and your family.


Jim Tantillo said...

nice write-up PW, why'd you miss?


Dr. Dirt said...

Great story. Funny how such a brief experience can leave such an indelible outcome.