As I let the dogs out, the
chill air makes me shiver so I grab my jacket and put it on. I take care
of such things as feeding the dogs and hauling my duffel into the cabin.
Hellos and small talk accompany these mundane tasks but they are all part
of the ritual and spirits are high.
When every thing is done and
all is settled, cocktails are offered and we get down to the serious matters
at hand. Coverts are discussed and the hunt itinerary is planned. Let
it be said now, that after much discussion and voting, rarely have we
ever followed this itinerary, every thing being thrown out the window
on the drive to the first spot in the morning. But this is all part of
the ritual and good does come of these discussions. Forgotten coverts
are brought to mind and with them the tales of hunts past. This night
the stories abound along with the laughter and after awhile the dogs are
rounded up and put in their kennels and the lights are finally dimmed
and we all head off to bed.
I awake to hear the sounds
of coffee being made and by the time I pull myself to my feet, the aroma
is wafting its way up to the loft where I have my bedroll. The cabin is
chilly and I hear the whumph of the space heater as Roger fires it up.
I climb down the stairs and to the pot like a bloodhound following scent.
I fill a mug and grab my coat to go outside and let the dogs run. The
air is cold and there is a trace of frost on the ground, a welcome sight.
I feed the dogs and let the coffee mug warm my hands. Off in the distance
I hear the drumming of a grouse, often heard in spring the male grouse
will drum all year. Was this a portent? A sign of what awaits us today?
Only time would tell.
Back in the cabin the membership
is active doing those things as one does to prepare for the day ahead.
More coffee and some breakfast topped off by whatever goodies Roger's
wife sent along and we are ready to roll. In our wooded playground we
have a seemingly unlimited supply of coverts to hunt and all are properly
named, as all pa'tridge coverts should be. Rosy Creek gets the nod as
the days first spot. Known more for its abundance of woodcock it still
has its fair share of grouse. This mixture of alders, popple and clumps
of pine is known to others and is a simple case of first come first serve.
The air temp is fifty or so and just a slight breeze, perfect conditions
in my book. We turn the dogs loose and anticipate a quick point for rarely
is the time that there is no bird within the first twenty yards or so.
Trigger the short hair and Parker the setter both go on point within seconds
of each other. Kevin and I each walk to our dogs to make the flush, two
single reports and two woodcock are in the bag, a fine start to what will
be a great day.
There is something magical about those first cool days of fall, with the hint of color coming to the leaves and the forest ferns starting to curl and turn brown. Clear skies and a nip in the breeze, just enough to make you shudder if you stop to pause a moment. There is no urgency, and a stop here and there to pat the dog or savor the view only enhances the beauty as your senses take in the