The last three fall bird hunts have tended to be . . . poor.
That’s not really the right word to describe those hunts, but it’s a start.
The issue has been injuries to my good buddy and hunting dog, Neva.
One year, she had a run-in with a porcupine within the first hour of the pheasant hunt in Alberta. It was a full-on face plant of quills and required a trip to the vet, in Medicine Hat, over an hour’s drive away. Never did shoot a pheasant that year . . .
Another year she cut her paw on glass, we presume, on our first ruffed grouse hunt of the season. There was no reason for glass to be there in the bush, but it was close to a forest access road, and way too many people throw their garbage – like beer bottles! – out the window when driving around. Regardless, it was a deep cut, needed stitches, and put Neva out of commission for a good month. By the time she had recovered, there was snow on the ground, which seems to result, at least around here, in the virtual disappearance of the grouse. I don’t know what happens, but once there is snow on the ground, you can go for miles and hardly ever find a bird. So that year was also a washout.
Last year we were on our property, hunting grouse for the 2nd or 3rd time, when Neva flushed a grouse, ran over an old garbage pile, and cut a paw again. Needed stitches, out of commission . . . . .
The fellow who last lived on our property – back in early post-war years, I think – was for the most part a bootlegger. We’ve removed pick-up loads of cans, bottles and iron over the years. There were literally huge piles of cans and bottles all over the place. I know there’s still a couple out there, but I can’t recall exactly where. If I find them, I’ll clean them up too. At least the places and trails where we usually hunt and go for walks with the dogs have been cleaned up. I still worry about shards, though.
So far this year Neva has avoided getting injured. And we had a great time!
We didn’t kill a lot of birds, but we flushed many. I even shot a few woodcock and saw and missed several others. Most woodcock I have ever seen in the Kenora area. A banner year!
Neva was 5 this year. Given her history of hurts, it’s easy to see she hasn’t had a lot of bird hunt time.
I thought we’d see a lot of grouse on our property as we had seen a number of coveys during summer. However, that wasn’t the case – sometimes we’d be out for an hour and not see a single grouse. I suspect the foxes and coyotes cleaned them up as well as the 10 skunks (10!) Lil live-trapped in the yard.
I haven’t hunted with her for a few days – the deer rut is on and smelly bucks are distracting to a dog that loves to hunt. I have to admit I’ve never seen dogs that like to hunt as much as these Wachtelhundes.
Unfortunately, there’s snow on the ground and I haven’t seen a grouse for days, not even during a full day of deer hunting where birds had been plentiful in early October.
Fortunately, there’s not a lot of snow – yet.
Oh well, it was a great fall, full of flushes and even some shooting. If the weather holds, we might even get to do a bit more of both.
And next year, maybe Neva and I can do some duck hunting.