One more bird hunt I wanted to share with you from this past weekend – this one was probably two-hours from start to finish, but may be my best hunt of the year. My 8-year old son received a cool bird hunting vest from my Aunt Sherry which my parents delivered when they came for Thanksgiving. This probably was enough to fuel his desire to go bird hunting, but it didn’t hurt that it was a beautiful day and his mom was ready to get the two of us out of the house for a bit. So Sunday after Grandma & Grandpa’s departure, and a short football-nap, we made ready.
With a young hunter it’s always best to keep the hunt short so we headed off to a small patch of grass that is pretty easy to walk and just happened to give up a few roosters last season. Despite Logan’s protest to take all three dogs, we took only Carrot, the small French Brittany. I figured that if we came across some birds, in this overlooked spot, they would hold for her and allow my son the best chance to fully-watch the fun. It just so happened that Carrot was named by Logan – and though I am not sure how it originated I do know that once the kids gave her an actual carrot, which she promptly devoured, the name was not going to change. Thank goodness, the kids weren’t calling her Princess Glove at the time she passed that litmus test – not sure my daughter has ever forgiven Carrot for that one.
Once to the field, we took a few extra minutes to add the gloves, snacks, camera and other miscellaneous to our vests. Then it was off to find the birds – it was an adventure! Logan did his best to keep track of Carrot as he and she descended hills, crossed creeks and marched through the grass. His play-by-play of her actions was interrupted briefly when a mixed group of green-winged teal and mallards flushed from the creek. A short time later on our walk we came across a pile of what appeared to be bobwhite quail scat (droppings). Which brought the question “how can you tell it’s not pheasant poop?“ My answer about size kicked off a lengthy discussion of what bird leaves behind the largest pile of scat.
It wasn’t until the very end that we found some birds. In fact, we saw a nice covey of quail leave the cornfield and land in the grass on the very path we had to take back to the vehicle. This allowed me to do some planning to maximize the situation for both Carrot and Logan – and it couldn’t have worked any better! The first one popped up before any of us was ready, but it gave Logan a chance to see and hear a quail – I had forgotten he hasn’t been around a live one and it was quite different than his duck and turkey hunting experiences. Mere moments afterwards Carrot was on point, buried in the grass 20 yards in front of us. However, the next pair of birds jumped between us and her and took advantage of the low hanging sun for their escape. Not having fired any shots I was happy to see Carrot still frozen on point – there had to be more in there. Then the rest of the covey exploded as we approached the little dog. I had to pick my shots carefully, again because of the sun, but managed to do pretty well and more importantly Logan was able to see everything unfold. Once the birds had all departed Logan got to see Carrot in action on the retrieves, which she made quick work of. Then out came the camera and the shotgun never got reloaded.
The conversation changed some on the walk back as Logan replayed the hunt and the covey of quail we met. He even mentioned what he wants to do on his next bird hunt, which made the whole trip even better in my opinion. He might not be carrying a firearm just yet, but he already bagged some memories – me too!