We just wrapped up four intense days chasing ringnecks at the WSFWA. Each year select Indiana state managed land is opened for a one week pheasant season during Thanksgiving week.
As I will always point out, hunters, fishermen and trappers add more to proliferate wildlife habitat than the collective urban “greenie” asshat movement ever will. I took this photo while driving, sorry for the poor quality.
It was a tough outing this time but at least I had the pleasure of spending quality time with my fellow bitter clingers. The weather was great and the usual suspects all showed up.
Long time bird hunting buddy Scott and his coworker friend Fred were there. Old retired John from the Indiana side of the metropolitan New Buffalo, MI area showed up too. The bro was there as well.
After hunting the Winimac state preserve for so long I recognized many other groups of hunters who were strangers to me years ago when I was a stranger to them as well. All are mostly northern Indiana boys. Their names may have been forgotten but the faces are not. When we meet we talk. We bond. As usual.
We talked about our dogs, who got their buck, the size of the rack and how big it dressed out. Some b!tched about minutiae such as a repair bill on the F-250 and the ammunition shortage last summer and that sad state of our elected fedrul gummint.
Here is an unusual pickup truck decal I spotted in our parking lot at area 9.
These are my brothers, these are my guys. We’re traditional Americans who love to hunt and fish and enjoy the spirit of the wild. For these short moments in time we were one with the ancient black earth inhaling the scent of moist fertile land with each step on a fresh new day. Sunlight pierced the early morning mist as the bells that hung from the dog collars led us through the thickets and woods in pursuit of our avian conquest.
Damn! Now I’m getting like her again. I must stop reading her blog. Somebody stop me.
OK. I’m back.
This year my buddy Scott brought his young English Setter, Penny, along for her first season at sixteen months old. Scott was so impressed with Speck in years past he was determined to have his own English Setter. He picked up his pup just days after Speck passed away. We planned on having two setters to hunt behind this year but that was not to be.
His dog Penny and my new pup Dottie share the same daddy. Next year should be a blast with two fine setters leading the way.
For some odd reason the birds at Winnie this year were widely scattered and they ran. Penny got a real workout. She had made many false points at spots the birds had recently hunkered down, that’s normal for a young setter. Experience will teach her to distinguish between weak and strong scent not wasting time where birds have left. She enjoyed every second and so did we. We needed to hunt three or more hours each day to approach our limit of two birds each per day. I was skunked twice this week, which has never happened in my sixteen years hunting Winamac.
I can’t blame it on the birds or a young setter. My shooting was awful, just pathetic. My past few months were so busy I have not practiced wing shooting at all. It showed.
This season I handed the whistle over to Scott. It was officially his hunt. He and Penny decided which areas we covered since he handled the dog.
We had a group of at least three hunters along for the ride each day and Penny impressed us all not only with her natural abilities but her discipline as well. She did as well as any first year gun dog possibly could and Scott now has a fine young dog all his own with many years of enjoyment to come. He didn’t show it but I knew he was very proud. He should be.
All the other groups of hunters we met up with in the field and afterward said they also were also having a tough time. Two hunters we know and speak with each year had four well-trained setters with them this week and told us how hard they had to work for their birds as well. I felt their pain...especially in my old feet and knees.
All in all it was a fine few days walking the late autumn fields and woods of Winamac in 2009. It’s an American tradition that I would only give up when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.