Saturday, January 31, 2009

Season's End

The 25th of January, 2009, last day of Pennsylvania grouse season, a day that I had hoped to spend in New York coverts, but that’s another story. I called my friend Dean and we were on our way to Pine Grove Mountain a little after lunch, two GSP pups in tow. We had hunted the coverts along the mountain top hard during the late season, encountering plenty of grouse but unable to provide our young dogs with anything to retrieve. I had watched my now 7 month old dog grow from inexperienced pup to a reliable partner, but since our trip to Maine in October I had been incapable of holding up my end of the partnership: the kill.

So it was that we found ourselves at the covert called Broken Rib, crashing through thick stands of 20’ pines for porcupine meadow. Winter sun overhead, 20 degrees, crusted snow. The two pups knew their business and hunted independently. Once at the meadow we tracked the line of white pine that rims the lower edge: Lilly and I upslope; Dean and Mauser down slope. Occasional seeps create breaks of barberries and laurel through the pines, about the only place where I could see Dean, only 20 yards down slope.

At the first seep Lilly began a series of points that pulled me further and further upslope, away from the pine barrier. Four points and nothing. Old scent? Just then I heard two shots from Dean. Four grouse had flushed from the pines and his second shot brought a fountain of feathers but no bird. We followed the flight path of the wounded bird, crossing a creek, cutting through pines and eventually emerging onto a laurel covered talus slope. Roughly eighty yards from where it had flushed, the grouse was found running on the ground. Dean grabbed it. We celebrated briefly, then pushed on.

Dean, Mauser, grouse

Back at the lower end of porcupine meadow more grouse flushed from in front of Dean. I heard and saw nothing. Then, a bird flushed wild from the pines. I allowed a lapse in judgment, taking two pot shots even though Lilly had not been part of the transaction. The red gods did not approve of my poor judgment.

We pushed on, still only half an hour into the hunt. Then, not 30 feet from where Lilly had her first encounter with a porcupine, Lilly went on point. I snapped a photo then walked into the pines. Nothing. Lilly ran past me and pointed again, feet away from the log where I had pulled dozens of quills from her jowls on New Year’s day. I walked past her and heard grouse flush on Dean’s side of the copse: one; two; three. A bird emerged overhead. I brought the gun up hard, and, to my relief, the bird dropped to earth, full of lead ballast. Thus spake the Parker!

Spawn of Artemis executes a perfect point

What ensued was a bazaar period of parallel activity, i.e., pandemonium. Lilly had broken at the flush and anticipating the trajectory of the birds flight was blind to its fall. As I called her back for the retrieve, I became aware of barking from Deans direction. Lilly stumbled upon the bird, then completed the worst retrieve of her brief career. I hadn’t worked with her on retrieving since early fall and she played with the bird before reluctantly delivering it to hand. I was elated – point, flush, shot, bird, retrieve! Only then did I hear Dean’s shouts of desperation. I cut short the celebration with Lilly and went to investigate.

Recalcitrant pup

While I had been focused on grouse, Mauser, the 6 month old GSP, had discovered the thrill of mauling Grandpa Porcupine, who waddled just yards from where Lilly had earlier made his acquaintance. After initially recoiling, the versatile hunting dog was clearly getting ready for retribution when Dean stepped in, noting that Grandpa P now sported very few quills on his back, thanks to two young GSPs. Things were under control by the time I arrived with Lilly on leash, although Mauser’s jowls and leg were bristling with quills. By the time I was able to photograph the scene Dean had removed many of the quills. We pulled the remaining quills and the pup seemed none the worse for wear. Onward Ho!

No more grouse were encountered, to my recollection, but we finished the hunt in high spirits. I do remember a joyous feeling as the bird in my game pouch bounced rhythmically against my back. The 2008 season now closed, I’m looking forward to 2009.

Now that's what it's all about!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ice Fishing 09 v.1

So the North end of the Mighty Cayuga is locked up tighter than a drum. We've been fishing on the ice since well before New Years, but here is some prime footage from New Year's Eve's fishing. Yoda was the king of catching on this day, but we all managed to stay warm in the sub-zero weather due to copious amounts of warming fluids. More to come on ice fishing exploits.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Cabin Boy!

Just wanted to wish our good friend a Happy 38th Birthday!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009



contact Ernie or myself for more details

See you in the blind Eric

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Goodbye my friend!

may 3rd 1936 - january 19th 2009

You will be missed!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vicar a Calming Influence???

Wow...the b*ll busting coming on strong.
Here's some soothing fish to report, just the progression of a fisher.
Handles the 9' 9wt pretty good for a little punkin...woulda been fun if a big old redfish or snook had come along...

Monday, January 12, 2009

More Undaunted Courage

Well, clearly I seemed to have touched a nerve with the Kuneytown Wonder Boys . . . will wonders never cease. Undaunted, I'll forge ahead with a brief account of Sunday's hunt.

After drinking more beer than has been yet consumed around a beer camp fire ring in 2009, our small party broke up amidst the falling snow at about 8pm Saturday night. (All except for Tidball and Hathaway, who rousted me from my slumbers in the camper at about 10 pm. Undaunted, I joined them for a brief nightcap before they roared off into the night for continued revelries at the Kuneytown Sportsmen's Club.)

Sunday dawned cold and snowy: 10 deg F and a stiff NW wind. Undaunted, and after breakfast of toast and coffee in the Ernst household, I joined Ernie and Mike in assembling another decoy spread that couldn't be beat. One or two flocks flew right in as we were setting the dekes, which we took to be a good omen for the day's prospects.

a good sign: the geese seem to like OUR cornfield

Of course those were the last geese we saw for quite a while. So to fill the time, a phone call to Eric was placed, at which time we learned that the Illegal Riegel was out plowing snow, apparently tired of the dull routine of getting copious numbers of birds and sick of hunting and getting full bag limits of mallards every day. We actually felt sorry for him. Get better soon, Eric.

Sunday's hunt proceeded much the same as Saturday's: a bird here, a couple of birds there. Narrative drama was provided not by the absence of Keith and Eric on Sunday, but by our own collective mishaps and screwups. After three birds were harvested, Mike made the unfortunate statement that, "It's easy. All we have to do now is get two birds each."

So naturally the best flock of the day came in next, with ten or eleven low birds swinging in close to the ground along the inner edge of the decoys, and, with grandiose visions of us each shooting doubles to finish off the season in grand style in our minds . . . no birds were killed. A total abomination in the eyes of the red gods. One gun--I believe it was a Benelli--failed to go "bang" when it was discovered not to have chambered a round. A second gun--also a Benelli--failed to fire a third shell after its operator forgot to reload. A third gun simply failed to find its mark.

Undaunted, we continued on.

Another moment of drama occurred when a goose was downed, only to coast to a landing in the northeast corner of the field. "Head straight for the treeline," advised Yoda Ernie, "and cut him off from the hedgerows." I did as instructed, circling around and cautiously approaching the bird from the north. It took flight away from me back across the field but thankfully, away from the trees. After missing two shots of my own, it was a glorious spectacle to watch the mortally wounded bird fly directly towards the dozer pile, where it was shot twice more on the wing first at approximately thirty yards and then again at ten paces, after which it crashed through the cornstalks that screen the dozer pile where it landed with a thud in the snow exactly 1.5 feet from my bucket in the blind.

By noon there were six geese in the bag. "Now it's easy. All we have to do is each kill one more bird."

Yeah right. Again, three geese beautifully worked the dekes and flew in directly in front of us from the east. Left to right, they offered perfectly distinct targets to each hunter. What a perfect way to end the season! Baboom baboom babboom boom baboom.

We managed to land two out of the three. Walking in with the two birds, Mike offered that we could always end the hunt now, with eight birds in possession. But settling back into the blind, we realized the unspoken agreement among us: we'd stick it out and get one more.

Besides, I'm sure it probably crossed some of our minds that it's always nice to wipe Keith's eye by bringing home a second bag limit of nine savvy, late-season dozer pile geese.

(By the way, where was Keith on Sunday? enquiring minds need to know. Many theories were offered, the most prevalent having to do with nursing a hangover. Do tell, Tidball.)

Anyway, only one more bird was needed to finish the season.

A lone goose came in. Eyeing the sky nervously, I asked the dozer pile veterans, "who shoots this one?" To which Mike replied, "It's all yours baby."

You probably know how THAT one turned out. Yep. Bang bang bang from the Benelli. And we all watched the bird fly away completely unscathed.

"What the hell did I do there!!" lamented I, crestfallen at my failure to finish the waterfowl finale with the fore-ordained, fatal fait accompli. "What the hell just happened there?" I raged, to which wise, old Yoda Ernie deadpanned:
"You missed."
Truer words have never been spoken. Ahh, the arrogance of youth, the nervousness of stagefright, the fickleness of Benellis . . . who knows, but it was not meant to be.

Minutes later, Mike performed a mercy killing on another single goose who flew in, was mortally shot, and who flew off to die in a neighboring field. It seemed only fitting to help Mike retrieve the season's last bird some five hundred yards away, both of us trudging through a foot of snow and across the hedgerow to find it DOA among the goldenrod.

And there was again much rejoicing.

the dozer pile:
where savvy, call-wary, late-season geese go to die
at the hands of equally savvy, call-wise, late-season dozer pile goose hunters
(click to enlarge)

Sense and Sensibility

I made the mistake of telling Ernie this weekend that goose hunts couldn't be blogged, because they lack the narrative drama of a good grouse hunt. (And note to Keith and Eric: a "good" grouse hunt doesn't necessarily result in a limit of grouse and teal in a morning's effort. heh heh)

Oh, there will likely be a fair amount of ball busting of Keith in this writeup. That was pretty much the dominant topic of conversation this weekend when things were slow. Not that things were ever slow. As Ernie said to Eric on the phone, "They're just stacking up like cordwood here!" You know, Eric will probably get some abuse in this post too, now that I think about it. heh heh.

Anyway, because Ernie challenged me to come up with a suitable narrative thread for this past weekend's activities, here I sit typing up my first-ever goose writeup. And while the massive consumption of cold beer on Saturday night provides a tempting possible focus (or lack of focus? which is certainly how some of us felt later on Saturday evening), I'm sure we all can agree that abusing Cabin Boy has a lot more potential for laughs and gaiety.

Okay. So Ernie invites me up for the last weekend of goose hunting, and says to be there "between 7 or 8 am." So I show up at 7:30 am Saturday morning, just in time to see Mike and Ernie put the finishing touches on a decoy spread that can't be beat. The location of course was the famed "dozer pile." Temp was 2 degrees F, no wind to speak of, and the three of us were clothed in snow camo.

Keith and Eric, meanwhile, were (how did Cagey put it in another post?) (ah yes, here, I have it): "taking the sensible route" and hunting in Eric's little honey hole, the Morehouse Ponds, aka, "Nancy's back yard." Perhaps Eric and Keith will blog about THAT sensible hunt sometime. heh heh.

but I digress.

good versus evil: the Canoga Killing Fields
(click to enlarge)

We settled into the dozer pile, sweaty from our exertions (well, Ernie and Mike were sweaty, I was pretty comfortable), and settled in for the wait. After a half hour or hour or so, Mike opined that the dozer pile might just strike out for us on the final weekend, but the wise-old Ernie just said "patience grasshopper, patience."

Of course, it is always possible that maybe the beer on Saturday night clouds my memory. But at least that's what I think Ernie said to Mike at that point.

About 9:00 am a lone goose landed in the decoys. When Ernie said take 'em, I did my best imitation of a 250 yard rifle shot at a woodchuck, and missed. Harumph. Watching the goose fly away, Mike was heard to mutter something under his breath that included the terms "skunk" or "skunked." Again, Ernie smiled and, sensibly, said, "patience, patience. In dozer pile we trust."

Another single flew into the spread an hour or so later. This time death came to the dozer pile, and our heroes were "on the scoreboard" as they say. And O'Connor was heard to say, "well, at least we won't be skunked today."

By this time, it was 10 or 10:30 am, and the Tidball truck was seen to be skulking (or was that "skunking"?) away from the Ponds. "A sensible move," thought we in the dozer pile. "They must already have their limits," another of us ventured.

Ernie on the phone with Eric confirmed the limits theory: Keith and Eric had reached the limits of their patience at the ponds, and so they sensibly had packed it in for the day, no doubt removing to the Kuneytown Sportsmen's Club for breakfast and beer.

what the Kuneytown Wonder Boys didn't see much of this weekend

Meanwhile, the hard work of goose hunting continued. No quitters us. At 11 am or so, a flock finally worked the dekes but flared before committing. "Something's not right with the dekes" all agreed, and with tenacity and grit Ernie and Mike supervised the rearrangement of the spread--tightening some up over here, spreading them out a bit further there--and voila! the mystery was solved.

Twenty minutes later, a flock came in again to the dekes, slowly slowly circling, working them warily, until the moment of truth arrived and O'Connor barked, "take em." And with that three guns went off, and three birds fell from the sky.

And there was much rejoicing.

No more talk of being skunked or packing it in early. No more lack of faith in the dozer pile. Now, only a gritty determination to show those beer-chugging Kuneytown quitters how it's done.

The hunt wore on. Flock after flock of geese worked the dekes, some coming in close, others not so close. A thousand ducks got up from the ponds but no shooting (hmmmm, I wonder where the Wonder Boys are? sensibly warm somewhere else no doubt).

Another flock came in and two more geese were downed--one falling to Tantillo's gun to the north bearing jewelry, although that fact went unnoticed until the very end of the day. Ernie, however, in observing the condition of the bird when retrieved, took notice of the bloodied condition of the bird's upper left breast, which provided the key identification factor at day's end for giving credit where credit is due. No sirree, none of this "geese Cagey claims to have shot." Ernie is the most honest goose hunter that ever lived. (and he told me to make sure to get that into the blog post somehow.)

heh heh.

still life with jewelry

What are we up to now, seven geese? Around 1:30 pm Ernie left for a while to go sign some gas drilling paperwork in the house, and in his absence, we had some high drama on two more downed geese. A flock came in, worked the dekes, and shots were fired. I had a bird down inside the dekes, while Mike had one sail away far across the field only to crash land DOA before the treeline. The two of us took off to retrieve our downed birds. Only one of us returned with bird in hand.

My hands tremble as I type this, but I in a fit of newbie nitwitlessness, allowed my bird to first walk away, head up, as I debated finishing him off with a head shot, and then, as my bird took flight and flew away, failed to pull the trigger to bring him back down to earth.

Insensible with grief, I returned to the blind empty-handed.

the one that got away

We fought on for perhaps another hour, but that was it. We decided to pack it in. As Ernie left to get the four-wheeler and the trailer for the dekes, another lone goose flew in low from the north over the hedgerow. Mike and I saw it just as Ernie started yelling "bird, another bird!" With Mike's gun cased and Ernie still walking towards camp, the suicidal goose met its demise with a final load of BBBs from the Spinelli, and it crumpled to the ground with a convincing thud. Redemption from the one that got away.

Thus, charging the ninth one that got away to our bag limit of three each, we pulled the dekes and packed up eight geese at 3pm, built a campfire at beer camp, and proceeded to empty Ernie's cooler of the various malt beverages it contained.

And there was much rejoicing.

happy beer campers with birds

Saturday, January 10, 2009

January Snow Storm

Watched the radar with keen interest as a narrow band of snow barreled down on Central PA. After a mid-day sledding excursion with the family, I loaded my daughter Kendall and my pup Lilly in the truck and we set up the mountain for an experiment in grouse hunting.

“I’ve never been in such a winter wonderland” exclaimed Kendall with 100% Kleinman enthusiasm. We eased our way down the long track that leads to coverts with the names of Broken Rib, Search and Seizure and Laureltown. The landscape was spectacular, a shellac of ice covered with six inches of feathery powder.

The shooting party

At Search and Seizure I unloaded the menagerie, placed Kendall in the sled, and slid down the old tote road to the pines, barberry and laurel that attract wintering grouse. The covert is named after a grand mal seizure my black lab Cody suffered during one of our first hunts there with the Vicar, who had discovered the spot. The walking was treacherous, as I had to negotiate curtains of ice-laden limbs, tinkling like wind chimes, while skidding over the base of ice that lay under the snow.

Ice curtain

It was particularly hard paying attention to little Lilly, whose bell was almost impossible to distinguish from the resonating ice. Kendall noted that other than her collar, Lilly's white and liver fur was perfect winter camouflage. But, as soon as the ground leveled and we reached our first cluster of pines, the dog went on point. It was a moment of truth. Kendall and I were sixty yards off and I was hesitant to leave my six year old daughter alone while I searched for the bird. The cover was too thick to drag the sled through. There’s my 7 month old uberpointer holding fast. What’s a multitasker to do?

By the time I made up my mind Lilly had been on point for at least a minute. We ditched the sled and I had Kendall follow me, reassuring her that I would come back for her if I got too far ahead. When I eventually reached Lilly she had been on point for at least three minutes. What’s another few seconds to snap a photo of my canine pride and joy?

First point

After the photograph I circled around to the pines. No flush. I released Lilly and she moved in, pointing again. Just then Kendall called. “Daddy, where are you?” Another moment of truth. I left the dog for the kid, immediately feeling the pressure pulse as the bird flushed in near silence into the whiteness.

We returned to the sled and hunted for another twenty minutes, winding through laurel and over limbs, all the time pushing through icy curtains of branches. Kendall was an incredible trooper, a true snow princess.

Second point

Lilly pointed several more times but we never saw or heard birds. Restricted to the open trail we could not follow up her initial points, as I normally would (she often points several times before we get close enough to the bird for it to flush). It was a long slog back to the truck, but worth every molecule of ATP. Daughter and pup added one more experience to their bond.


Post Script: The real adventure occurred just as we were about to exit the state forest onto the two lane highway that leads down the mountain. A pickup had turned onto our icy road, the only one I’d seen all afternoon. The driver slowed to let us pass, slid on ice, slowly, and was only stopped from sliding down the mountain by a forest service sign. If it hadn’t been there he would have slid into a steep right-of-way and rolled down the hill. With tow ropes and ax we were able to rescue him.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A good day

My boss took me hunting again today. He and another two-legged named Eric shot pretty well, which means fun for me.

8 mallards
2 black ducks
1 teal
1 gadwall

This is my rookie year and I find myself "riding the bench" a bit more than I like, but I am learning, and when the boss has put me on the starting line-up, its so fun! So far, in the second half, I have been getting in the game more. I have at least 20 retrieves in the second half, and more than 30 for the season. Not quite MVP material yet, but I think the boss is pleased. I have stuff to work on though. I am glad Nick, who is a fourth year starter and a veteran, is pretty cool to me when I get to get in the game. He doesn't seem to hold it against me.

Gotta go. I'm hungry.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Still Hunting Grouse on Snow

January 4 am grouse hunt

A late afternoon phone call from Uncle Pete convinced me that there are people reading this blog and eager for word from the coverts. My congratulations to Dr. Dirt for keeping us appraised both of Lilly's progress and of his own ongoing struggles with ballistic irregularities.

I managed to get out yesterday for a pair of hunts: one in a covert dubbed "Rocky Raccoon" which Uncle Pete saw many many years ago. Because Uncle Pete expressed some incredulity at the fact that I gave out precise GPS coordinates of a recent hunt's results, I have covered up identifying topographical traces in the above track log of the hunt to make it harder for lazy-assed hunters amongst you to find this spot. heh heh

It was a calm, cold 22 deg F morning, and I was garbed in the usual attire, etc. etc.

We put up two grouse from high, high up in the trees in a red pine plantation along the edge of a small swamp. We followed the mark for a while, but nothing else materialized. Half an hour later, however, Phoebe rewarded me with her first real point on a hunt--alas, nothing came of it, but it was staunch enough for twenty or so seconds, and I believed her. I figure it's just a matter of time now.

In the p.m., we made haste to another oldie but goody, a spruce plantation that I haven't hunted in several years. This time we were rewarded with a total of five birds flushed, with a missed couple of shots at bird number four and a reflush of bird number four that confirmed his ongoing excellent health. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

Yesterday I downloaded a vintage 1893 article from Outing magazine, "Still-Hunting Grouse on Snow," by James R. Benton. One passage in particular caught my eye. Here's what we all hunt for:
But my mind is suddenly diverted from this fascinating sort of “track inspecting,” by the report of my companion’s gun high up on the ridge. If he missed his bird there is a chance it may come this way—there—one hundred feet in air—wings set—feathers compressed, apparently to make as small a mark of itself as possible, shooting across the ravine like a bullet. Well! here goes for luck. Fifteen feet ahead is not an inch too much. Hurrah! that brought him. His speed was such that he drops half way up the opposite hill, while a handful of fine feathers drifting down through the fading light show how hard he was hit. A hit like that makes up for twenty misses. What sportsman knows not the wild joyous thrill that follows such a clean shot! A minute before you were tired, your feet seemed bound to stumble against every root and stub in the woods, you began to think hunting was losing its interest, you didn’t see just what you came to-day for anyway. Then the whir—the successful shot, and your muscles are springs, your feet scarce touch the ground, your triumph breaks forth in a shout. Could the philosophers but grasp and make tangible this passing thrill, they need seek no further for the elixir of life.
January 4 pm grouse hunt: still seeking the elixir of life


I've returned to the grouse woods twice with Lilly since the encounter with the porcupine on New Year's day. During those two hunts she has begun to put it all together. While I too have begun to understand how to hunt with my little GSP, I can't say much for my shooting.

In but two hunts Lilly has pointed at least seven grouse, perhaps more*. One encounter with Mr. Bonassa on January 2nd was particularly memorable. Lilly pointed, relocated, pointed, relocated, and pointed again. I assumed it was a running bird, eventually letting down my guard. Immediately the grouse flushed from 20 feet up a pine. I never even mustered a shot.

Today's final point was memorable in that I did everything perfectly, at least until it was time to close the deal. Dark was falling and we had flushed at least four birds, two of which Lilly pointed but flushed as I bungled the approach. Finally, not far from the truck, Lilly froze in the midst of a copse of pines. I swung wide, very wide and walked in. Perhaps thirty yards from her nose I nearly stepped on the grouse: low house skeet, straight away. I missed with both barrels. It was like taking your eye off the golf ball to watch its flight. The gods of Parker are punishing me.

However, I am blessed by my little Lilly.

* A veneer of ice makes every step a sonic distraction to other sounds in the woods.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Rediscovering my inner grouse hunter

January 2 grouse hunt in yellow
Hi everyone,
after a rough couple of weeks in the emotions department, I decided to get back to basics and spend a couple of days getting back in touch with my inner grouse hunter. With Katie gone, it was also time to reacquaint myself with my seven month old setter puppy, who if memory serves me is still named Phoebe.

I've also had a good time playing around with the new GPS unit my wife got me for Christmas, mostly making 'track logs' of the paths of each hunt.

Although it is not what I would consider to be a "good" grouse year in the Hector Land Use Area, we have put up enough birds to keep things interesting.

Above is a jpg from yesterday's hunt--we put up three birds in the locations noted (PETE!). The fourth bird was flushed a day earlier. I will also provide the GPS coordinates in case any of you Pennsylvania partridge pounders want to come hammer them later this month:

grouse flush 1: N42 28.973 W76 46.756
grouse flush 2: N42 28.958 W76 46.850
grouse flush 3: N42 29.121 W76 46.893
grouse flush 4: N42 29.667 W76 47.026 (Jan 1, snow roosted)

Don't say I don't love you guys.

Today was cold, 26 deg. F, with a fairly stiff wind out of the West, and snow falling. Blaze orange knit cap, worn-out wool sweater, waxed cotton coat, gore-tex camo wind pants, insulated LaCrosse boots. We hit the trail at 9:30 or so. Three hours and three miles of slogging through foot-deep snow later, we had no flushes to show for it. Ugh.

But at least I am hunting some areas I have not hunted for years. One good thing about the puppy--she goes where I steer her. So far anyway. With Katie it was always a bit of an adventure to follow where her nose told her to go, and so over time I found myself consciously steering her away from certain areas. I'm sure Phoebe will get that way soon enough. Grouse flushes numbers 2 and 3 yesterday were her doing. She moves nicely in the woods, her range is picking up, and today I even used a bell on her for the first time.

January 3 grouse hunt: nada! nothing, zilch. No birds.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Quills

Drove up Pine Grove Mountain to Broken Rib Covert to usher in the New Year with Lilly. Temps in the 20s, bright sun, dusting of snow. Grouse tracks everywhere. Within 20 minutes we had flushed roughly 5 birds (hard to precisely count with the noise I made breaking through ice), several off of creeping points. Lilly was starting to settle. Then, a perfect point. I swung wide around her and she held. Perfection. When I was but five yards from her nose, she broke. Off waddled a porcupine. We'll try again tomorrow.