In a way, I guess missing the bird was a good thing, because after that everybody settled down, relaxed a little and slowed down. Buddy and AJ had their jobs cut out for them trying to work the field with all of these bodies tromping all over. AJ was following a scent when he came up on the pheasant. He went on point and froze waiting for help, holding the bird tight. Mitch got in and helped AJ and shot the bird when it flew. John was there and saw AJ on point. He couldn’t believe it. He told his dad about AJ pointing, but Buck didn’t believe it.
Buck said, “No, you’re wrong, labs don’t point. It must have looked that way.”
When we broke for lunch, we had shot a total of eight birds among us. I was surprised that were any birds left around with all of the guns blazing. Buck and his son were still talking about AJ pointing.
Mitch said, “AJ is a pointing lab. He was trained to point. He actually is a registered pointing lab.”
Buck couldn’t believe it. He was surprised to say the least.
After lunch we headed back to the preserve for more fun in the sun. We started off again in one big group. Once again order was abandoned and chaos reigned. Somehow we lost Judd and Steve; they headed off over the hill. That left Hank, Buck and Joe heading toward the woods. Mitch, John and I started walking along with the dogs, by the way, the dogs stayed with us, close to the cow pasture. Right in front of us was a chukar just sitting on a cow pie with no cover. A chukar is a littler smaller than a pheasant and a soft gray color.
Mitch was on the left, John was in the middle and I was on the right as we approached the bird. The dogs were not paying attention to us, sniffing for something to catch their interest. When chukars fly, they fly very erratically. They may fly straight at you before veering off. This can be very disconcerting and a challenge to have a bird fly right at you while you are trying to get a shot off. We were about five feet from the bird, and he showed no signs of flying, he just sat there trying to be invisible. Since John spotted him first, I wanted him to get the bird. I just stood there and waited for the bird to fly so John could shoot it. Well the bird finally did fly and it flew straight at John before veering off in the opposite direction. John unloaded his gun at the bird and didn’t come close. The bird flew down the hill into a plum thicket and landed.
We laughed so hard at the injustice or maybe justice of the whole affair, I almost peed my pants. Off we went down toward the plum thicket to see if we could locate that bird again. On the way there, a pheasant broke from cover and I shot and downed it with one shot.
John turned to Mitch and said, “She doesn’t fool around does she?”
Mitch said, “I wouldn’t want her shooting at me.”
I have to admit, for some unusual reason I was shooting great that day. It seemed like every time I pulled the trigger a bird fell out of the sky. I was just as surprised as everyone else, but I hid it well. I didn’t want anybody to know that this was just a fluke. I think I shot six birds by myself. Inside I knew this probably would never happen again, outside I acted like this was nothing new. If they only knew!
We trudged down into the plum thicket and with Buddy and AJ’s help; we got two more birds up and shot them. After we cleared that side of the preserve, we decided to head over to the general vicinity where we left the others. When we finally caught up to Buck and Hank, Buck was sitting down in the grass resting. Resting? Come on, we hadn’t been out there that long. The day was beautiful, not too cold, not too warm and the sun was shining, and there were BIRDS! What more could you ask for? But I didn’t say what I was thinking, I just stood there. Buck said he was an old man and he was done for the day. We headed back to the cabin to eat some cookies (this has become a tradition I started and everyone loves it) and drink some coffee. Todd was waiting for us when we got back. He took the birds we shot and laid them with the others to clean. He asked how we did, because it sounded like someone was waging a war with all of the gunfire he heard. He looked at the birds and at us and cocked his head.
“I would have thought that you’d have more birds with all of the guns going off.”
I rolled my eyes and said, “Well you know how it is, if it wasn’t for me there wouldn’t be hardly any birds there.”
Buck said that he wanted to get the birds that he and his sons shot because they were going to head home in the morning.
“Why are you going to leave so soon?” Hank asked.
Buck said, “Well we limited out today and we might as well head back to work in the morning.”
“Limited out?” asked Mitch “What do you mean limited out? We’re on a hunting preserve; there is no limiting out. We can shoot as many birds as we want.”
This was a whole new concept for Buck. His sons had had a great time and got to shoot lots of birds and didn’t want to leave yet. So he agreed to stay another half day and get in some more hunting. Another day of chaos looms ahead.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the story half as much as I enjoyed living it and re-living it on paper.