Bird hunting is a new journey for me. Buried treasure continually being sought after, never quit reaching the “X”, but never giving up the pursuit; the fantasy of a perfect point, flush, and bird to hand moment. I read of beautiful places lost to time. Cool mornings, where the rising sun is shrouded in early morning fog. The fields, and woods beckon our primal instincts to hunt, molding us like clay as we pursue a calling into nature. Our satisfactions thirst, and we consent. A journey into the wild places creating a new beginning. Forging a new hunter.
A new beginning harbors new ambition. First birds, first puppy, sounds of birds flushing. Though the season has long since closed, the dawning of a new Autumn quickly draws near. Again, this will be a season of firsts. New coverts, new friends, new states to hunt. Memories to piece together. Soon my home will be filled with a bundle of puppy snuggles, accompanied by gleeful sounds of my children. Already the children are “playing” puppy. Dutifully feeding, walking, grooming, and training our French Brittany. They speak to the puppy with love and tenderness. The whee little ones gentle approach to the simple and mundane tasks asked of the pretend pup. I pause and realize the simple joy’s they act out will soon be reality.
I long for the coolness of Autumn mornings. To hear the ringing bells of dogs silenced from a point. Watching a friends shotgun to shoulder moment. The hunter in adoration watching the jeweled plumage of his pheasant fly away.
No birds filled my vest this past season. I clung tightly to the words of C.W. Gusewelle, “That brushy line, in which no posts or wire remain, divides two meadows of native grass that fall away toward the dark of woods on either side.” The birds never the prize to be found inside the treasure box. The bounty worth seeking was nature itself. Soon, come September a new adventure shall start. Our “puppy” will come to fruition. The snuggles will no longer be just play. New routines, new love, memories to behold. All the while the long cast shadow of what will be looms. For now, the hearts of my family happily await the arrival of our newest family member. Brilliant hues of orange and white melting against the backdrop of wild landscapes.
Adventures will soon unfold. The bell of my newest companion will stop ringing. He will stare back at me in acknowledgement of a job well done. Holding point. I will wish to not disappoint him. The covey will take to the cold blue skies of winter, only to live for another day. I will look down at my friend, hold my hat in hand and seek forgiveness. Hunter and dog will make amends. His soft eyes will stare back, “ there are more birds to point.” I will smile and watch has he bounces through an undiscovered cover. The bell silent once more. A new beginning.
By Erin Woodward
Erin Woodward is a novice bird hunter. He was born and raised in Kansas where he currently resides with his wife and three children. Erin can be found during the fall and winter months venturing across the Great Plains in search of wild game. Summers are reserved for fishing and making homemade ice cream. His works have appeared in: Sage & Braker, Missing Sucks, Hunt Redi, Project Upland and Endless Migration.