dead bird and walk
up to release her again for the retrieve. As I near, another woodcock
takes to the air surprising me, a hasty mount and two shots later, the
bird continues on its way. I chuckle to myself and shake my head for doubting
the dog, knowing that this is not the last time that will happen.
I command the dog
to fetch the previous bird and wait for the retrieve and once more she
goes on point. I walk up prepared this time and make the flush, collect
the bird and add the final doodle of the day to my bag, for the limit
is three. Retrieving the final two birds turned into a tedious chore because
the area was saturated with woodcock, more than I have ever seen in such
a small area. The woodcock feeds mainly on earthworms and evidently this
spot had an abundance of worms which led to an abundance of woodcock.
In the next ten minutes we proceeded to point and flush at least ten additional
woodcock. It was frustrating, trying my patience and the dog's. We managed
to find the two downed birds while pointing and flushing birds every few
feet. In this country one is wise to treat every point as a possible grouse.
Frustrated I finally leash Parker and lead her out of the area. We kick
three more up and Parker looks at me as if I'm insane, I shrug and mutter
something to the dog as an apology.
Back into the popple
I release Parker and command her to "Hunt 'em up". She goes
off and I mindlessly daydream while viewing the terrain watching for the
splash of white that marks the dog's location as she bounds through the
woods. I smile to no one but myself as I soak up everything coming at
my senses. The smells of the forest, like the rich earthy aroma from the
soil and the bittersweet scent of dying ferns. The sounds of the aspen
leaves quaking in the breeze and the call of the jays. The feel of the
cool breeze on my face, the pleasant weight of the game bag and the tug
of the brambles pulling at my faced brush pants. Mixed with the view in
front of me, how could anyone not smile. As we push along, I begin to
wonder if the birds are really here. A half-hour has passed with no sign
of birds. Parker has checked in twice now awaiting further commands and
each time I send her forth once more. Grouse hunting is like this and
it is all part of the game. Off to the east I hear shots and the command
"fetch it up Rock" and I know Roger has bagged another. Buoyed
by this, Park and I press on. Finally Parker's collar beeps on point;
I scan the woods to locate her, homing in on the steady beep. I spot her,
tail high, head to the left frozen. Her body trembles and I know the bird
is there. "Whoa girl whoa" I softly command as I push through
the underbrush. I move to the left trying to pin the bird between Park
and me. My heart beats faster. Solid points like this do that to me. Anticipation
is high as I move carefully in, suddenly the flush happens, the bird skyrockets
up, steeply angling for the treetops. I mount and swing, following the
bird up, swinging through from behind I tap the trigger as the barrels
pass through the bird and the second grouse of the day for me tumbles.
Parker makes the retrieve delivering it to hand. I always stop to admire
the bird, examine it, and fan its tail to determine its sex. We all should
take the time to do this, give the bird the respect it deserves.