On the Schneid

“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.

9 responses to “On the Schneid

  1. Another beaut, Larry. Thanks. I know it's no consolation, but I've seen scant few avian creatures of interest in the dozens of hours I've been out this year. A few more than you, though. Theory in these parts is that there's so much food right now that the boids is scattered hither and yon. Mostly yon. Angus was so birdy last weekend but couldn't pinpoint anything I watched him do something I'd never seen: he started growling and yipping. He was f'ing pissed. A few seconds later 5 gigantic blue grouse launched from above him. I've never seen him run faster after birds. Never had a chance. I'm just glad he didn't leap off the cliff.

  2. I haven't hit any honey holes or deep outposts yet, but I think that our drug of choice is going to be in short supply this season. Maybe they haven't coveyed up yet with all the warm weather (even though my buddy saw about 50 on his opener hunt)? Poor Angus and my Ava dog need to have a group therapy session, I think she's starting to lose faith in me or believes I'm teasing her when we go for an armed hike.. sigh.. it's early yet Bob, we'll get a few harder than usual meals on the table yet. Cheers

  3. I enjoyed that tremendously, well done. Chalking things up to fate or calling it meant to be or not to be has always seemed like the passive way out or a form of denial at best. The best approach is the proactive one you have already adopted, where you pull yourself up by your boots straps, march on and make your own luck.

  4. As a fellow godless heathen (we're out there, not many, but we're out there…) I applaud your attitude. More importantly, that a new pup you've got there?

  5. She's a little over a year. Started taking her out at about three months last season and let her sleep in the gamebag when she got tired. At 5 months she was tracking, pointing, holding, and retrieving. I'm a bit nervous to see how she works out as an older pup, if the long off season changed anything. The anticipation of seeing her development is driving me nuts. She does work the cover well, and is whistle and hand signal trained. Just hope she still holds steady till I can crawl up to her points.

  6. But not really– if I thought that would work I'd pray for a bigger paycheck or a million dollars or something. Regardless of your spiritual leanings, there's not substitute for hard work and perseverance. And even then there's no guarantee. I talked to my pops and he agrees it's been tough and has talked to a lot of guys who have gotten skunked this year.cheers

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