With snow falling, oak logs offering winter warmth, Tess in a deep sleep soaking up the heat
as I reflect on time spent afield with her. It’s easy to stare into the flames remembering some of her special hunting moments. One was made in South Dakota while on a media hunt with the guys from Pheasants Forever. It was my first trip over there expecting that once crossing the border there’d be birds running everywhere. Not so as I kidded Bob St. Pierre. But later that day we gathered the group heading afield for an afternoon hunt.
Driving into that field was a sight I’ll never forget. There were birds literally everywhere. Running across our field of view, in front of the truck, flying in groups landing in brush and grass. An amazing site for a Minnesota boy more used to seeing no more than 10 birds in a day. Now keeping that in mind imagine what happened when Tess hit the ground
after a long ride but preface it with what I would soon learn--my e-collar
batteries had died. In Minnesota I seldom even needed the collar but with more scent than had ever had come into her nose she exited the kennel and began acting as though on speed racing around everywhere and I had absolutely zero control. Extremely frustrated with her behavior Casey Weismantel of Aberdeen, SD came over smiling and said “settle down she’ll be ok. I’ve seen the same thing before.” A small consolation but some none the
less. In a while I’m not sure if she did settle down or simply got tired but thankfully she began to hunt. Later in the afternoon the group walked some corn and an adjacent woodlot. A rooster flushed, a shot, a winged bird on the run. Tess took off on the scent and gone.
Whistling, calling her name all futile until Chris Niskanen, then the outdoor writer for the Pioneer Press called from the woods “Who’s got the little Golden? She’s got a rooster and
comin’ your way!” Very much alive Tess delivered to hand. Needless to say I was
really proud of her! My earlier frustration all gone and all forgiven!
Another trip taking Fan Outdoors on the road found us in Hitchcock, South Dakota. The gravel main street put us across from Colonel Bubbas saloon. On one side was the Post Office and the other the VFW and the café. We were told it closed at
4 whether finished eating or not. I was sure at any moment Wild Bill would be tying his horse right outside. But as rustic as it was the bird hunting would be awesome the next day just prior to an oncoming blizzard. Radio duties behind we met our guides, both
young women hunters with Shorthair pointers. A short tar road drive then onto a field road found us in an area with CRP, cattail sloughs and brushy areas. Very birdy and really excited and in a bit of a hurry I left the truck, let Tess and Tramel out discovered later that I left the truck idling for more than 2 hours. Duhhhhhh! Our hunt found us in various cover but a
final stretch of grass would be special. Tess wheeled around between Bob and me then suddenly she turned her head, lifted a front paw and like a picture locked up on a rock solid point. Motioning to Bob he was already watching ‘nready. Walking in front of Tess the bird
flushed, a rooster. A shot, a bird down, Tess immediately on it, a retrieve to hand, Bob called out “nice shot!” The end result a priceless memory! Soon after that I learned my truck was still idling. Glad it wasn’t one of the patented “Billy Big Walks” per Bob!
With Pheasant Fest on the horizon it’s appropriate to share this. Not sure if you’re a bird hunter, waterfowler, deer hunter or a parent but when you enjoy the outdoors there will always be stories making memories and that’s special! Special too are those made with family, friends and bird dogs! Bird dogs always “Bird Dogs!”
See you at Pheasant Fest! It’s gonna be awesome!
Great discussion on Fan Outdoors this week on the work the DNR is currently doing in Northern Minnesota tracking and collaring Moose! To view the photo gallery Click Here
Looking again at the thermometer it
shows below zero temps for the forth straight day. This is beginning
to shape into more of an old fashion winter from long ago. All
that’s missing are the snow drifts that used to cover mom and dad’s
clothes line poles. It was child’s play trying to wallow almost
swimming out of chest deep snow as the drifts gave way under foot.
Some of those memories resurface from time to time especially in the
early evening darkness broken only by the warm glow of wood-fired
flames from behind the glass wood stove door. As I sit here the two
Goldens are curled on the floor near that heat source with Snap
sleeping next to me on the couch. It is quiet but for the occasional
cracking inside the stove. From time to time there’s also a
banging sound overhead as the rafters crack in the extreme cold.
There’s almost a magical urge to stare into the orange and yellow
flames above the red glowing coals. Not able to resist my staring
takes me far back in time. Back into my past and even beyond that.
If I close my eyes I can hear the slow groaning engine of an old Ford
trying to come to life in 30 below temps. In college I used to bring
the battery from a 50”s era Mercury Montery into my dorm room
upping the chances that it might start for a weekend trip home 40
miles away. The flames take me further back too. What must it have
been like to live in a time when the stone fireplace was the only
heat source for an entire winter? It must have been difficult for
both man and beast but we, well most of us including me are not able
to comprehend even such a concept. I have cut and split wood each
year for the past 20 or so along with hauling it on a daily basis to
help heat our home but the thermostat still tells the furnace when to
remove the night chill. The fire sometimes takes me back to being a
child. The hide-a-bed pulled out, blankets and pillows in front of
the cabin field stone fireplace. Aunt Jo sleeping on the bed across
the room and flames leaving a dancing glow as logs burned and the old
oil burner filled the room with heat. Now even though people from my
past are gone the memories made at the cabin return as this flame
I was going to fish today but at minus
7 gave in to the thought of it being too cold. But was it really too
cold or have I been indoctrinated so well by tv weather types in
Atlanta and elsewhere from warm studio broadcasts to only think that
it is? I do believe however that those of us who embrace the
outdoors are better suited to enjoy the ebb and flow of the elements.
As a child in weather such as this mom’s final touch would be a
scarf around the face pulled tight then sent out the door to play.
I’ve learned those lessons from her well but now it’s a soft
turtle around the neck, thick stocking hat, pack boots and Ice Armor
bibs and jacket along with long johns before heading out the door.
Tomorrow I will fish but today I will
stare into the flames and travel back in time a bit more! Stay Warm!