|“No birds here either boss, let’s check the next mountain, and the next, and the next and the..” – A year old bird dog|
I haven’t squeezed a shot off since the season started. Not just in the new chukar season but also with a couple of grouse hunts, a snowcock adventure, and even a mountain quail safari. The only birds I’ve seen move were a grouse that swooped over the truck as I slid my unloaded scattergun into its case and a snowcock that silently swept behind us on a cliff traverse that offered no opportunity of shooting without a good chance of tumbling down a thousand feet of granite. For transparency I’ll tell you this: grouse is something I don’t really get after too hard, the mountain quail is always a crap shoot and for all I’m concerned the snowcock should be renamed the Upland Unicorn. In two chukar hunts cut short to only a few hours by the 70+ degree weather we’re having in October I have seen exactly zero birds. But I’m not gnashing teeth or wailing, because this is a game of chance, not a guarantee. Admittedly I am a masochist, and with the experience accrued through life as well as hunting and fishing I kind of enjoy a good kick to the groin every once in awhile, even as the blows soften with the numb reality brought about by said experience. It keeps you humble and it makes for a better payoff and reverence when you finally notch up a win.
I was raised as a member of a small town church with good and simple salt of the earth people, the kind you count lucky to have as neighbors. I attempted belief in the supernatural but after prodding the heavens I soon realized that I am not a superstitious man. I can’t chalk up tragedies or triumphs to an invisible omniscient hand that also plies and intervenes with my freewill, because the leap of faith required to be comfortable with both sides of that coin is one that no logical man would make. Not that I consider myself a logical person, I just don’t have time for inner bickering between myself and useless, unfounded guilt. I’m not searching for ritual in my routines like a hockey player who never tapes his stick until exactly twelve minutes prior to warm up or a pitcher who doesn’t wash his jock. Searching for abstract supernatural meaning in natural circumstance or routine is a dangerous recipe for those afraid of pain and reality, and down that path lies delusion for some. Shit happens, and you gotta deal with it. I know most of the hook and bullet community roots itself in right-leaning ways including religion and field traditions that border on ritual mysticism (even though they would never equate or even say that), but as a godless heathen I enjoy the reverence of the outdoors as much as they do and appreciate the natural order of things with as much of a clear and untainted view as my advanced primate derived brain can discern.
I am not slighting or mocking the many spiritual people who put waders on or boot through the field. I still hunt and fish with your ilk, and mostly enjoy your company. Opposites attract and therein lies a balance and camaraderie that is further forged by a love of the outdoors – whatever way you perceive its creation or formation, or its bounties and blunders.
As for my my current schneid I’ll just put one boot in front of the other and hope that the dogs still trust me when we reach the next patch of rimrock.
|Don’t look at him, he’s an idiot.|