Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Shawn's story inspired me to share one of my own. More than once, I have written in this blog about my favorite covert, "the Royal Macnab." I named this covert after one of my all time favorite outdoor stories by Robert F. Jones called, "The Royal MacBob," because this property has it all: Deer, ruffed grouse, hungarian partridges, pheasants and my personal favorite, sharptails. I love this special covert more than any of my other hunting spots and I am very protective and cautious about who I take there.
Shawn and Ellie, his FBE Cocker, early morning on the Royal Macnab. Ain't that pretty?
In the fall of 2003, I took a long-time friend (who shall remain unnamed) with me to the Royal Macnab. As we drove there, I swore him to secrecy: "Promise me that you will not tell anyone about this spot." "You know I won't man," he pledged. That glorious fall afternoon we both harvested our limit of sharptails, which is two birds a piece. As the sharpie season only extends through the month of October, this was the last sharptail hunt for me that year.
The black and white Brittany is Sunny's sister, Hally. We had an awesome hunt that last Saturday in October of 2003. I love little shag carpet Brittanies!
Old farm implements make good photo props. Feeling pretty good with a two-bird limit.
The following fall of 2004, I couldn't wait to head back to the Royal Macnab for more of its magic. Early in the morning of opening weekend, I drove south with Sunny, my French Brittany, and Dusty, my newly acquired pointer. When I arrived, I had the place all to myself as I fully expected. The brilliant sunrise that morning over the mountains to the east was unforgettable.
Even Bustin' Dusty felt that it was a special day as he uncharacteristicly worked birds in range. In fact, as we crested one of the bigger hills in the rolling CRP fields, Dusty cranked down on point and a sharptail flushed in range flying right to left. I swung out well ahead of the grouse and dropped him like a stone. This was the first bird that I took over one of Dusty's points.
Opening Day 2004, with my first bird taken over Dusty's point.
Not long after the first sharpie, I recieved an unexpected phone call from the same friend I had taken to the Royal Macnab the year before. Come to find out, he had brought his Father-in-law and two brother's-in-law to my cherished covert. When he saw my Ford Escort station wagon, he decided he had better call me to let me know they were there. At the time, the fact that they showed up did not sit quite right with me and I tried to shrug it off as no big deal because of my long history with this friend. I ended up meeting with them and hunted an hour or two with the culprit. We all harvested a few more birds that morning.
Since that day, I have reflected numerous times on this experience, which left a bad taste in my mouth. Because of my friend's breach of trust, I haven't hunted with him since. My good friend Matt Lucia and I have talked about this negative encounter and we both agree that one of the most important ethical rules for a sportsmen to follow is this: Once a friend takes you to his secret hunting or fishing spots, you never go back without that friend's knowledge and blessing. Good hunting spots and good friends (who share these treasured places with you) are hard to come by. Don't blow a friendship by treading on his generosity.
Of course, this is only one of many ethical standards that we as sportsmen should set for ourselves. Other ethical guidelines are:
1. Abide by the game laws and never harvest more than allowed by law. Don't be a game hog! In fact, if the limit is generous, you may even consider taking less than the limit to preserve the resource.
2. If someone has already staked out a public spot to hunt, then honor his claim and give him some space. Never, ever intrude on a stranger's hunt by flushing a bird that his dog pointed.
3. Ask for permission to hunt private property. If you don't, you may burn that bridge forever.
4. Clean up after yourselves both in public and private property. Enough said.
5. Never shoot close to homes, buildings, or livestock. I can't tell you how many landowners have turned me down when I asked to hunt because someone shot their cows.
6. Close gates behind you.
7. Don't yell at or try to discipline your hunting companion's dog.
8. Eat what you kill. Put another way, only kill what your going to eat.
9. Safety first. Always handle your firearm safely!
Keep in mind that the nonhunting world already considers us as bloodthirsty neanderthals. It sure doesn't help our plight when we act uncivilized towards each other, landowners, or their property. To sum it up, I believe that it is absolutely essential that we, as sportmen, establish personal ethical standards that we live and abide by in the field. I am a firm believer that the ethical pursuit of outdoor sports can help bring out the best in all of us.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I promised Eric that I would provide him with a list of my all-time favorite hunting books, which I will do in the blog some other time, but I thought I would share a list of my top-twenty favorite hunting and fishing stories (in no particular order) which I compiled for Shawn's Blog last year:
1. "My Generous Season," Mark Jeffrey Volk (in The Upland Way).
2. "The Road to Tinkham Town," Corey Ford (in The Trickiest Thing in Feathers).
3. "The Royal MacBob," Robert F. Jones (in The Hunter in My Heart).
4. "The Intruder," Robert Traver (in Trout Madness).
5. "The Christmas Gift," Jerry Dennis (in A Place on the Water).
6. "A River Runs Through It," Norman Maclean
7. "Volkswagen Cove," William G. Tapply (in Trout Eyes).
8. "Gone Fishin'," William G. Tapply (in Gone Fishin').
9. "Ghost Grouse," Burton Spiller (in Drummer in the Woods).
10. "The Poacher," John Gierach (in Even Brook Trout Get the Blues).
11. "On the Divide," Nick Lyons (in Full Creel).
12. "In the Buffalo Fields," Jerry Dennis (in A Place on the Water).
13. "Herbert's Helper," Corey Ford (in Trout Tales & Other Angling Stories).
14. "Back Yard Trout," Burton Spiller (in Fishin' Around).
15. "Blizzard on the Race Track," Steve Grooms (in Pheasant Hunter's Harvest).
16. "Big Secret Trout," Robert Traver (in Trout Madness).
17. "The Great Bream Expeditions," James R. Babb (in Crosscurrents).
18. "Devil Water," Mark Jeffrey Volk (in The Upland Way).
19. "Paid in Full," Mark Jeffrey Volk (in Pages from a Mountain Journal, Vol. 2)
20 "Burt's Gun," William G. Tapply (in Those Hours Spent Outdoors).
You really can't go wrong with any of these authors and their books. I'm sure there are other great stories out there that I haven't read yet and I would love to hear about them. Just drop me a comment below.
I look forward to reading some more of Eric's writing in the future. He is a great writer with a knack for telling a good story. Check out his blog at http://www.ericoutside.blogspot.com/.
Friday, January 16, 2009
In memory of D. Dusty Devlins.
This January, because of the deep snows, the Idaho Fish & Game closed the chukar and hun season early. Typically, the hunt for these partridges lasts through the end of January, which serves as a good activity for those of us who loath Winter and can't wait for the return of the kinder seasons for sportsmen. Although I approve of the F&G's efforts to protect the resource, it still feels like the season was cut short.
And to top it off, as one final hunt of the season (or the first hunt of the year depending how you look at it), my cousin Eric and I headed towards Colorado Thursday to meet up with Shawn for a greatly anticipated quail hunt in Kansas. Long story short, we never made it because my Subaru, Green Drake, kicked the bucket thirty miles east of Evanston, Wyoming. You can read all about this fiasco at http://www.ericoutside.blogspot.com/. I am happy to inform everyone that we survived the ordeal with a smile on our faces.
Despite these setbacks, I don't want to end this season on a negative note. I really can't complain as overall this has been a good season. To commemorate, I thought I'd share some pictures of some of my favorite memories this hunting season. I hope you all enjoy!
Early season grouse hunt with the family. We saw no birds, but we had a good time.
My girls hammin' it up on our grouse hunt.
Emma and Nessy on an early morning blue grouse hunt at Grouse Ridge. Treats for all, but no birds.
On the hunt with Emma and Nessy, Emma took this awesome picture of Sunny Girl. Gotta love that smile!
Matt-eh-who with a grey and a red phased ruffed grouse.
Outshot by the Mattster again, but believe it or not, one of those sharptails is mine.
This is my younger brother Robbie on our quest for spruce grouse in the Sawtooths. No birds, but a fun day together. I'll never forget Robbie's quote of the day (heck, quote of the year!) as he came out of the Carey Sinclair station from a much needed bathroom break: "I came out of that store feeling much lighter, and it was not because of the buck fifty that I dropped for hot chocolate."
Loving life on the Royal MacNabb. We all got our limits that glorious day. The picture below is of my brother Shawn with a chukar he made a nice shot on just before I pulled the trigger on same bird. We named this desert chukar hunting spot, "Dos Royal," for reasons that if I told you, you might figure out where it is. It certainly is a kingly place.This is my law partner and good friend Aaron and his son, David, on David's very first hunt. Again, we didn't get any birds, but we had a good time.
Looking back, I did not harvest a lot of birds this season. However, I now realize that it is the people and the bird dogs that make a hunting season special. Those are the memories that stay with us. As my friend Matt Lucia always says, "Birds are just the bonus."
I am looking forward to this upcoming season, spending time with family, making new friendships or renewing old ones, and hunting with Sunnygirl in her golden years. Oh, and if I'm lucky, maybe we will get another bird dog for the family. I'll keep you posted. Yes, life is good!