This is the second excerpt from my story, “My First Bird”
The sun was going down and we were chilled through or at least I was, so we headed back to the cabin at the entrance of the preserve to warm up. Todd was waiting for us and asked how we did. Mitch told him we shot five and missed a couple more. So we saw a total of seven. Todd had set out ten for the first day, so there were still three more missing in action.
The way Todd runs his preserve, you request how many birds you want him to set out, then you pay for the total set out whether or not you kill them. Another difference at a preserve as opposed to open field hunting, you can shoot hens in addition to roosters. So you can have Todd set out a mixture of what you want. I haven’t found any difference in shooting at hens. They’re just as hard to find and kill as roosters.
Everyone was pleasantly surprised and pleased at how much fun we had even with the cold biting wind. THERE WERE BIRDS OUT THERE! Everybody got off at least a shot or two at the pheasants. I hadn’t hit one yet, but I was hopeful. We were all in agreement that the birds acted just like wild birds. They flew and ran just the same.
After much discussion it was decided that we would be back in the morning and Todd would set out an additional ten on top of the five that were still out there somewhere. Plus god knows how many other “free walking” birds were hanging around?
Another adjustment we had to make to preserve hunting was what time to hit the fields. As Todd explained to us this was our vacation, relax, enjoy. The weather would be nicer around 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning than at sunrise. We didn’t have to race around to beat out the other hunters.
“Slow down, hunt for a couple of hours, take a break, rest the dogs, drink some coffee and eat some cookies, warm up at the cabin.” Todd said. “The birds will still be here when you get back.”
Whoa what a concept! We didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn, more specifically; I didn’t have to get up at 0 dark 30 to shower. We could sleep until a civilized hour of the day. We could eat a real breakfast at a normal pace, no more swallowing breakfast half chewed, to speed up the process and get moving. This was throwing Mitch for a loop. He wasn’t sure if he could handle hunting at such a leisurely relaxed pace. He was used to the regimented style of his father. This was the beginning to sound like hunters heaven.
Todd had noticed Harley’s definite lack interest in hunting and that Buddy was doing all the work trying to cover five hunters, so he offered to bring one or two of his dogs out in the morning for us to help Buddy. It was decided that we would be back around 9:30 the next morning. Todd took the birds we killed with him to clean. Wow, he even cleaned the birds too!
We went to our motel to clean up and relax before going to eat dinner. The dogs wandered over to their bed and start snoozing. Mitch’s father and brother didn’t make the trip this year, so I didn’t have to fight with anyone about where the dogs slept. Even though, I haven’t shot a bird yet, this was still the best trip yet.
The next morning after a relaxing start to the day, we loaded up and headed out to Todd’s. Todd pulled up right after we got there. He showed us the general area he set the birds and told us which direction we should start off.
“Out of curiosity,” Todd asked, “Yesterday when I pointed out where the birds were why did you go the opposite direction?”
Mitch explained, “I don’t know, it just seemed too easy to go that direction first.”
Todd laughed out loud, “You’ve been hunting the hard way for way too long!”
Man did we have some habits to break or what!