The bird hunting season began with doves September 1, ran for 15 days and I managed to get out for six of them. Five trips to Imperial Valley and one afternoon spent at a local ranch provided some pretty good wingshooting over decoys, not to mention platters of doves smothered in mushroom sauce. By any standard of measure, this is a season that is off to a great start.
As for the Aztec football season – not so much. After four games, two against teams they were expected to beat and two against teams they’d have to play well to beat the Aztecs are a disappointing 1-3, and except for their special teams have yet to play well at all, particularly on offense. With the non-conference games out of the way, there is hope that the Aztecs will find a spark as they open conference play this coming Saturday against Fresno State. If not, it is going to be a long season.
And now, a third season is about to get underway for me. Flyfishing has taken a backseat for longer than it should have, but that is going to change very soon. For the last three years the month of October has found me headed for the northern plains of Montana and North Dakota in a pretty much single-minded pursuit of pheasants. It is a journey that finds me passing by some fine trout streams and wishing that I’d made time for a little flyfishing along the way. This time I will.
In order to diversify a little bit, North Dakota may not be reached this year if I’m able to explore Montana as I’m hoping to do by including some remote camping in my new Tentcot, trout fishing and chasing some gamebirds other than pheasants – namely Hungarian partridge and sharptail grouse. Should I also somehow stumble onto some blue, dusky, ruffed or sage grouse – they would be a most welcome added bonus.
I’m feeling pretty anxious and almost ready for this sojourn – all of the necessary gear is scattered around the premises and waiting to be sorted and loaded into my prairie schooner (a Ford F-150 with 4-wheel drive), and Gus (our seven-year old springer spaniel) is a terrific traveling companion, although it would be helpful if he brushed up on his navigation skills. The biggest question that looms is whether to include Jack (our two and a half-year old springer) who has made the trip the last two years.
Gus is a piece of cake. He knows how to do his job, but still relax on a trip like this. He sleeps until it is time to go to work and is in all ways a gentleman and unobtrusive. The problem with bringing a single dog to find, flush and retrieve your birds is that it can be a lot of work for just one dog day after day, and the risk of injury is omnipresent. Last year Gus tangled with some barbed wire that caused a laceration on his chest, a trip to a vet for stitches and left him on the shelf for several days.
Jack on the other hand, is a piece of work. The youngster knows some aspects of the job, but is so full of energy and a need for attention that he can take away some of the relaxation you’d hope for on a trip like this. He is full of youthful energy, and given Gus’ easygoing demeanor, has become the alpha dog in their relationship and firmly believes that it is all about him. When he is full of himself he becomes an obtrusive juvenile delinquent.
I’ve gone back and forth on this, but at this instant, I’m figuring I’ll probably take Jack. He is undeniably loveable and fun and both deserves and needs the additional experience that can only come in the field with wild birds.
I suppose Gus and I will find and enjoy relaxation some other time.