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Gundogs….

When the boat is cranked onto the trailer for the last time each season, there is only one thing on my mind – bird hunting behind German Wirehaired Pointers – the true versatile hunting dog.  Some folks steelhead, some hunt elk with a rifle, some prepare to travel to South America for the fishing season below the Equator. A few of us walk CRP and wheat stubble in search of our soul with double gun in hand…and several boxes of 3 inch 6s – high brass, 20ga. Huns are my favorite, Drew and Dan like sharptails.  Covey birds are the finest, but it’s hard to dislike the ditch parrot, aka, Rooster Pheasants. We also enjoy classic marsh hunts for decoying mallards. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

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Greenheads.

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Drew & Otto.

One Dodge Cummins Diesel, two birddogs, three fishing guides and six shotguns rolled out of West Yellowstone before sunrise on Halloween. With a shiny 1978 Airstream Land Yacht in tow we made our way out of the Madison & Gallatin Ranges, along the Absorakas and toward the rolling wheat fields of rural Montana. Twelve days were in front of us and while leaving the mountains, trout and rivers behind is hard to do, it felt right.  Driving prairie trails through thousands of acres while listening to Waylon was on the docket.  Can it get any better?  Hell no.

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Moon over the Airstream.

Fall in Montana is almost magical at times.  Yes, I believe in magic. Rivers, wheat fields, sunrises, frosty mornings, flushing birds, live ducks in the decoys – is what makes us tick.  It recharges the soul for another season of guided fishing.  It allows us the patience to teach the reach cast…..for the 25th time before lunch. The next time someone invites you on a bird hunt, go.  Don’t ask for the hall pass, just go.  Your wife will love you more when you arrive home, fresh from walking 6 miles a day behind a pointer.

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A walk in the field is good for us all.

 Everything slows down in rural Montana. Everyone waves….everyone.  We don’t know a soul out here in wheat country, but yet they treat us like we were raised here.   Knocking on doors makes for great conversation – classic Americana. Nothing says America like families who have farmed the same land since 1860.  Getting permission to hunt 640 acres of CRP with wheat stubble boarders makes me glow inside. Especially when 6 roosters flush from the road plus a covey of sharptail.

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Otto-matic. 

I could care less if I shoot a limit of birds, so do my hunting partners.  There is no sense of competition in the fields we walk.  Okay, maybe a little, but only once we arrive back at camp to consume beers and grub. Cold beers flow down your throat easily after walking most of the day with gun in hand.  So does fried chicken, baked taters and green beans – for only $8.  $20 with beers and gratuity. What a steal.

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Sunset in Big Sky Country.

I guess what I am saying is, get outside.  Enjoy your life.  Take time off from work.  Go afield.