NOTE – I wrote this during the holidays after being berated for information from every corner and unturned stone in the land. I was a bit bitter about it. Also if you’ve seen the sign in the photo, I don’t hunt near there for obvious reasons, mainly the legacy of Mandella. Enjoy.
“How often do you get out? As much as the wife lets ya?”
He tipped back his beer and and scrunched a corner of his mouth, trying to pull the answer out with his facial muscles.
“As often as I can, no wife yet, or ever if I can help it.” he replied.
I liked him, but he knew I was sizing him up. We were put together at a holiday party because of our mutual love of bird hunting. He was a friend of a friend and wanted to try his hand at Nevada chukar hunting so I agreed to at least point him in the right direction. He’s from out of town, but not far enough out of town. He was within a half days drive and if he’s a true bird hunter, that’s nothing to get to a good spot.
“Good man! What kind of dogs do you run?”
“A black lab, he’s about 5.”
“Is he a big boy?”
“About 90 pounds, he does great in the pheasant fields.”
And with that I knew right where I was going to send him. I plopped my finger on a topo from my truck and told him how to get there, how to approach it, and good luck. Before we left the party I shook his hand and told him that “if you tell anyone or bring anyone to that spot, I’ll cut your balls off.” That was mostly whiskey bravado, but I was drinking vodka that night. I laughed and he nervously reassured me he wouldn’t say a word.
Since he was a nice guy I wasn’t going to send him to a place I call “Mount McKillme”. It’s a steep sucker that will break the most steadfast chukar nut in a few hours. There are birds there, but they are up about 2,000 vertical from the truck. It’s loose soil, freezes into ice sheets in the late season, and is windier than Wyoming.
That’s where I send people I don’t particularly care for that I feel obligated to share some information with. These people include: friends of friends that I don’t like, encounters with professional sports who talk of endless guided trips, expensive shotguns and the glory of their pay to play membership ranch (and lame inside jokes if two of them are present at a party), and most of all people I know who can’t or won’t keep their mouth shut.
If I socially run into another bird hunter and he starts talking of his spots in detail I put up a wall. When he’s done spilling his guts and asks me where I hunt I usually give an accurate, but vague, description.
“Oh, by Gerlach?”
“You ever hunt ________ out there? I hear it’s great.”
“I usually stick to Giffe Butte and GoFuYo Ridge.”
“Ah, really? Never heard of those, I’ll have to check them out.”
I’m not totally evil. Just half-evil. Unlike catch and release fishing, you can’t shoot and release a chukar. I’m sure some tin-shed savant is trying to rectify that though.
Bird spots aren’t unlimited, and they only get replenished once a year, if there’s anything left to do it. I like to keep mine close to the tin cloth, as do the boys I hunt with. We even keep secrets from each other, but like any good relationship that is necessary from time to time.
So if you run into me I’m gonna be harsh but fair. A little giggle water helps loosen the tongue, but some might offend me into leaving.
So pick your words and your whiskey wisely. It may do wonders for your cardio.