Great White Hunters? (final excerpt)

Mitch waited until Todd left and said, “There are never any birds in these places.  My father would take us into the woods all the time and there were never any birds in the woods.  Oh well, let’s go and get this over with and then we can head over the hill and down into the back side of this field.” 

Against Todd’s advice, Mitch decided that we would both go down into the draw.  The draw had a mixture of snow and frozen mud.  There wasn’t really any easy way down the slopes into the draw.  The good news was that there was a wide open area with very few trees that I could use to slide down to get in the middle of the draw, because I could tell it was not going to be a question of if I was going to slip and fall, but when.

Once down in the draw, we both started off toward the other end with the dogs going back and forth, in and out and not having the trouble I was having keeping my balance.  What looked like snow up top was actually ice-crusted snow up close.  Carrying the gun, not falling on my butt and dropping the gun was immediately more important to me than “no birds.”  Not too safe, huh.  Mitch got up ahead of me about twenty feet and saw what Todd was talking about.  At the backside of the draw, there were birds everywhere.  There were chukars and pheasants just milling around the tree line and the junk farm pieces.  He couldn’t get close enough fast enough.  The dogs were on the birds making them scatter and fly.  Mitch started shooting his gun at the birds and nothing was dropping.  I was down in the bottom of the draw trying to get up the slick icy sides of the slope.  As I was crawling up the hillside, I could hear the gunfire and the birds cackling and the whump whump whump of their wings flapping and Mitch cussing and yelling for me to get up there and help out, and I couldn’t get up the hill.  Just as I had crawled almost up to the top, the shotgun sling slipped down my shoulder.  As I grabbed a tree root to pull up on, the shotgun slid off my arm and slid down the hill back to the bottom.  I looked at the gun at the bottom of the hill and then turned my head back up to where I had almost reached, just inches away from level ground, debating whether or not to slide back down to the bottom of the hill.  I was seriously considering just leaving the gun down there, but I couldn’t, it had been a Valentine’s Day gift.  Still holding the tree root, I turned and sat on my butt.  Then I let go of the root with one hand and pushed off with the other.  Sliding down the hill with only lycra running tights and canvas field pants as a buffer between my backside and crusty ice. 

Mitch was still shooting at birds and screaming, “Susan get up here!  Where are you?  I can’t do this by myself!”

Digging my heels in to stop my slide at the bottom, I just missed a close encounter with a large tree stump.  I yelled, “I’m trying, but I can’t get out of here!”

I picked up my gun and crawled upward again.  I realized that day, that not giving up is essential to hunting.  By the time I finally got out of the draw and topside, all of the birds were gone.  Mitch didn’t hit anything.  Oh yeah, we sure cleaned out the birds for Todd; they flew over the road to the neighbors land.

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