Unwritten Rules (final excerpt)

This is the final excerpt from my story, Unwritten Rules.

Along with the dog rules are the people rules, handed down from father to son, and just as absolute.  The first people rule is, “Don’t slam the doors!”  As soon as the trucks pull up to the first likely spot at sunrise, the first one out the door is Mitch’s dad.

He whispers hoarsely, “Don’t slam the doors!  It’ll scare the birds.”

Yeah right.  For 364 other days of the year, cars and trucks travel the same roads and I would guess occasionally stop.  I bet the doors even get slammed, but on the 365th day of the year this means hunters with guns are going to shoot them.

Now the whole time he’s whispering this, the dogs are prowling back and forth, sniffing and whining, anxious to do what has been bred into them for generations.  The rest of us are banging and clanging, getting rigged up.  Putting on extra jackets, loading our guns and putting everything we think we might need in our pockets.  Gearing up and the dogs don’t scare them away, but car doors do.

Which brings me to the rule, “Pockets, hunters have to have lots of pockets.”   So far this is the only rule that makes any sense to me.  There is a pocket for your Kleenexes, very important, you know for runny noses or the call of nature.  Even though I try to avoid going outside unless there is no other alternative.  You have to have a pocket for your hunting license; you don’t want to be caught without it.  Conservation officers have absolutely no sense of humor.  I also think that having a pocket for my camera is equally important, even though I’ve been threatened a couple of times if I didn’t put the camera away.  Then there’s the dog treats, they have to go somewhere.  Gum and lip balm also need their own pocket just as much as extra shotgun shells.

Then there’s the ever-popular “Pheasants don’t care what you look like” rule or more commonly known as “Nobody bathes before hunting” rule.  That was the statement made to me, when I set the alarm clock for an hour earlier than we needed to get up.  Not me, I don’t care what I’m doing or where I’m going, I always shower, put on makeup and fix my hair (for all the good it does me) before leaving the house.  I was brought up on the old adage, “always wear clean underwear, because what if you’re in an accident.”  My mother also always said, “Vanity, Thy name is Susan.”  Whatever!

And lastly, there’s “Sneak up behind the birds” otherwise known as “The long way around” rule.  If it’s more likely the birds are in the draw or field ahead of us, then why on god’s green earth do we go almost a mile to the left and circle around to come up on the backside of the draw and work our way back across the field with the sun in our eyes?

This from a bunch of men who will drive around in a parking lot for 15 minutes looking for a parking space by the door, so they don’t have to walk any farther than they have to.

Another hunting trip looms on the horizon and I can’t wait to learn more new “unwritten rules”.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my stories, they really have happened.  Come back and look for more to come.

Hello Monday!

I am so glad the weekend is over. I just wish it would stop raining long enough to dry the yard out so I can mow and plant my garden. But mainly because I have water dogs that don’t like the rain. Orso, our ninety pound lab will walk under the umbrella with me in order to not get water on his head. Do you have any idea how hard it is to walk with a dog that tries to pee and walk at the same time? Sissy dog. They can be dancing on three legs because they have to pee so bad and rush to the door to go out. When I open the door and they see the rain, all three of them just stand there and look at me with the same expression, “Are you kidding me? You want me to go out there in the RAIN! I can hold it.

And God forbid there is lightning or thunder. AJ, our black lab, super hunting dog, the best in the field I’ve ever seen, pants and shakes and becomes my third leg. I have started giving him doggy drugs, just to calm him down. The way he wolfs them down, I may try them myself.

My fingers are crossed for sunshine.

Unwritten Rules (first excerpt)

Somewhere out there is the book of unwritten rules for hunting, and one of these days I’m going to find it.  In it are the hard and fast wisdoms that hunters have lived by for eons.  I don’t know all the rules yet, but I have learned a few.

To begin with there are the dog rules.  Dog rule #1 is “Hunting dogs are outside dogs.”  Oh please.  The idea is that if the dog stays inside he gets soft and spoiled.  Buddy is a large Labrador retriever and his place is in the house with us.  Buddy goes just about everywhere we go.  He is our constant tag along.  He also gets bathed regularly.  One of my pet peeves is a dog has to be clean.  It makes me crazy when I pet Buddy and my fingers get that film from a dirty, oily coat. So not only is he a house dog, he’s also a clean house dog.  He also has as much, if not more heart and drive in the field than any “outside kenneled” dog.

And then there’s one of my favorites, dog rule #2.  “The dog sleeps in the truck.”  Not my dogs.  My first hunting trip was almost my last.  When night came and time to turn in, the first real argument flared up.

Mitch’s brother said, “Buddy has to sleep in the truck.”

I said, “No, he sleeps in the room with us.  Just like at home.  Besides, it is cold outside and sleeping in the back of the truck will just make him stiff!”

Sleeping in the truck makes the dog tough, not a sissy, like Buddy.”

I said, “If sleeping in the truck makes him tough, then you sleep out there and see how you feel in the morning.”

That went over like a lead balloon.  We went back and forth arguing almost nose-to-nose, but being more stubborn and hardheaded, Buddy slept in the room with us.  Mitch wisely chose to fix himself a drink and take a shower to clean up for dinner.  I guess he figured that if he didn’t see it happen then he couldn’t be called to testify in court.  For the rest of the trip I had to listen to the sniping, “Poor Buddy, he might get a blister.”

Another good dog rule is dog rule #3.  The dog is supposed to retrieve the bird to the one who shot it.  Well not my dogs, it doesn’t matter who shot the bird or who’s closest to the dog when he finds it and starts carrying it back.  The dog will run across the field past everybody in his path to bring me his prize.  My dogs always bring everything back to me.  Of course, this always causes a few caustic remarks.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first excerpt; come back soon for more.

Training – But Whom? (last excerpt)

Another thing we discovered was Buddy’s fascination with cattle.  As we drove to the friend’s farm, every field we passed had cattle grazing.  Buddy paced back and forth like a caged lion in the back of the station wagon, and depending on which side of the road the cattle were on, stick his head out of the window and bark nonstop.  This created an interesting rocking motion of the car speeding along the highway.  I’m sure Mitch enjoyed the extra challenge to controlling the car.  It kept his driving skills honed.

We arrived at the friend’s place and Buddy got his first look at cattle up close and decided running after them was way cool, especially when I still held the leash.  Do you know what happens when the line plays out as a 95-pound dog running full bore away from you with a 30-foot tether attached to you both?  I learned a valuable lesson that day.  LET GO OF THE LEASH!  When that leash snapped, I went flying and landed on my face in the middle of a cow pasture about 4 feet ahead of where I originally stood.  It felt like I flew 20 feet.  I’m glad I take calcium every day.  Strong bones.  I think field training progressed as swimmingly as retrieval training went.  That’s Buddy, and we love him.

This is the last excerpt, I hope you’ve enjoyed the stories so far.