Veteran dog warrior
"Naw," I shrugged and said almost nonchalantly as a way to play up his red badge of courage, "his biggest problem today is the heat."
Hot it was -- easily in the mid-70s, but more than anything, it was muggy as well for the annual pilgrimage to my favorite public hunting grounds in Gladwin County, Michigan.
But it got even hotter. Which is why I love coming to that spot. What seemed to be slow day in the bird woods turned on like a switch once John and I flushed the first woodcock an hour and a half into the hunt.
I followed the bird to the side of a knoll and then heard John's Mossberg sound off to my left, and then I had my first bird as the woodcock coasted down the slope unwittingly 5 yards away. Boom! The Browning 12-gauge had the last say.
I walked up the hill over to where John was searching the poplar leafy floor for his prize and gestured with my bird in my left hand and then jokingly asked, "Did he go over this way?"
"Oh, you got one?" John replied, a little surprised that he missed his shot.
And onward we went and put up six birds over the next 15 minutes in an area probably not much larger than a 75-yard radius on that ridge between two swamps.
Meanwhile, Henry the springer spaniel, kept weaving in and out of us just having a ball.
He then flushed one up for me directly to my front which almost seemed like a midair rabbit shot, and I picked off that bird as well. And that was it for the action there as the birds scattered across the road and into the next woods.
After a lunch break, I ended up bagging one more, which gave me my limit. Something that doesn't happen too often for this hunter. I was inspired to see ole Hen at nearly 13 years old flag that last bird down down below the ferns and then dare to run off with him, albeit temporarily.
I know these are golden days for me and him. With many hunts behind us, the clock ticks on. But on this day, the veteran dog warrior still had some game left.
I admit I might have been pumped for this hunt and it may have put John on his heels somewhat, being that it was his first bird hunt with me and the springer.
But when I see the dog give all, I know I must follow.
To the others who have hunted with us before, they may take note that I've decided to go easier on Henry this year.
I'm sure there are some doubters but that's OK.
(For pictures of the woodcock hunt and other hunts, log on to www.macshuntingmag.com)