I started the season by running over my dog. She came rocketing out of the sage and straight for the passenger front wheel. I slammed on the brakes and heard the violent yipe and whimper that makes your skin crawl.
“Oh god dammit.”
I got out and began walking around the backside of the truck. I thought about the fact I might need to shoot my own dog 5 minutes before the start of chukar season, something that I believe she loves far more than I will ever comprehend. I thought about how calm I was despite not knowing the damage. I should have worked in the ER. Blood and carnage have never bothered me.
I rounded the passenger side and she was standing there – tail tucked, shaking, left rear paw held off the ground.
“That should teach you ya dumb ass.”
I gave her a light smack and picked her up and put her in the camper shell.
A few minutes later we were parked and ready to start the season, even if Ava had to stay in the truck. My friend Cody, who didn’t have his shotgun, flushed a covey 50 feet from the truck. I let Ava out to check on her and she was totally fine. Chukar on the brain, paw be damned.
She performed like a champ, didn’t miss a point and waited for long stretches till I could get up to her. I didn’t have to raise my voice once. And we found a lot of birds.
I also missed every single one, as did my friend who didn’t forget his shotgun. So goes it when you haven’t touched your shotgun but twice in 7 months.
It was a fitting way to start the season. It’s been a rough year for me, but things are looking up. From all the negative and misguided efforts there are small seeds that have been planted and are growing. One loss turns into a set of fantastic opportunities, which is refreshing considering most of my life the losses have turned into more losses. Chin up sissy, you make your own luck. It’s time to get back at it.
Now enough with that bullshit, let’s make some positives this year. Let’s not be stubborn bird hunting elitists.
Let’s not waste time with fools, but make an attempt to make them less foolish in that time.
Let’s get more excited for heroes of conservation than hero shots.
Let’s defend public lands together and preach about why they’re important to all who’ll listen.
Let’s hound our reps in DC till they block our numbers.
Let’s take kids out hunting and fishing.
Let’s take veterans out hunting and fishing.
Let’s be good stewards and representatives of the wild places we cherish.
Let’s have a good season, and make sure to share our passions and not our egos.
(Says the guy who went 0-9 on opening day.)
Note, I have killed a few of these.
And here’s a sorry for not being here video.
(I love that he sang that particular song to the old timers at the Oprey.. “What’s DMT, Hank?”)
In a week I’ll be returning to DC on behalf of Trout Unlimited for the Clean Water Act, so let me know if you have any special requests that won’t get me into trouble. I’d ask for Caps tickets but they’re out of town.