By Eric Fowler
If the October issue of NEBRASKAland Magazine hasn’t reached your mailbox or local newsstand, it will soon.
Open it up and you can read “The Start of the Hunt,” an essay on bowhunting essay by Jeff Kurrus, a self-proclaimed addict to that fall pastime, which he says is great because unlike rifle hunting, the hunt has just begun when you see a deer. I keep telling him he needs to head west and try to sneak up on a mulie or pronghorn, but he keeps climbing trees.
You’ll also find two photo essays: “The Long Road Home,” a collection of fine images Bill Hager, a regular contributor, captured in the Sandhills; and “Bow Creek,” in which yours truly showcases this National Park Service recreation area on the Missouri River near Wynott. I made several trips to the area after the Service acquired it. I captured enough images on my last visit, a foggy fall morning with sweet light photographers dream about, that those alone could have made the spread. But we chose to mix it up and give you a bit of seasonal variety. Two from that morning that didn’t make the cut are posted below.
Jon Farrar was busy this month, penning: “Mallards from the North,” an articles on Nebraska’s contributions to Ducks Unlimited Canada; “Picket Pins of the Plains,” a natural history piece on the 13-lined ground squirrel; and “Saucy Longbills,” the history of shorebird hunting in Nebraska.
If we keep your attention well enough that you make it Page 49, you might want to have some tissue handy. There I wrote “One Great Dog” about Nikki, my black lab and best friend for the past 12 years. She won’t be with me in the field this fall: I had to put her down in May. Cancer. Bad things, for her and me.
Here’s a taste:
“Nikki was more than just a bird dog. She was family. She didn’t spend her life in a kennel, coming out only to train or hunt. She had the run of the house, always greeting me at the door with a wag and a kiss when I got home. She was with me through a divorce and other tough times, always able to, at least for a moment, help me forget about everything. She went nearly everywhere with me, and not in a box in the back of the truck (unless she was wet or muddy). For the first half of her life, she sprawled across the front seat and slept with her head in my lap. When I moved up to an extended cab pickup both at home and at work, she had the back seat all to herself. She was so mellow it was easy to forgot she was there. She was what a friend called “bar broke” – she could stay in the truck as long as you needed her to. When I’d go for a hike in search of photos, she’d often tag along, always on the hunt. I’d occasionally sneak her into the office, and she’d usually sneak out and wander the halls and look for crumbs on the floor of everyone’s office. She decided she liked her bed more than mine later in life, but still joined me shortly before the alarm went off. I wonder how she knew.
A few people have admitted they shed a tear when they read that piece. That wasn’t my intention. It was a tribute to my first bird dog, and a great one at that. But if reading it puts a lump in your throat or brings a tear to your eye, you’re my kind of people. Lord knows I shed plenty writing it … and rewriting it, and rewriting it, trying to condense so many thoughts into one page. I hope you enjoy the rest of that story and the magazine.
See you out there.