We have arrived home from the 12 day hunt weary-eyed, unshaven, gressy haired with souls recharged. About 10 o’cock last night, the snow began and piled up a few inches outside the door, drifting higher by the morning. Winter is here. While the ground isn’t completely covered, yet, this fresh layer will help us track elk. I believe a quick drive around the Butte is in order before dark…..300 and a blaze vest in hand. There is a short list of honey do’s, complied this morning just before kissing Molly good bye on her way to Chico Hot Springs for a girls weekend, that can wait a day or two. Actually, I fixed the garage door – it gets sticky in the cold – just so I could fill the garage with dogs crates, coolers, tents…etc.
While hunting with Stella, I made a mental list of things to work on with her: dropping birds after packing them around on her way back, running at mach 4 through CRP, hunting dead, not listening to “Come” or “Heel” when she knows what they mean (think E-Collar Training)……she is a puppy after all and this was her first full on experience with pheasants. However, her raw talent and supreme birdyness showed its light. In tight cover, she hunted close and diligent, pinning roosters and bumping some. When she gets birdy, one can definitely tell. In large CRP fields, I used a check cord to slow her down, making her drag it through the grass…….and allowing me to step on it from time to time as well. Stella ran a whitetail buck for a mile and half across three different property lines, it was a nice buck. She was introduced to porcupines and emergency vet stops too. We pulled 30 quills from her face and then let Doc Kane pull the other 60 or so from her mouth, gums, tongue, cheeks, nose and chin.
A winter storm rolled through Eastern Montana bringing a fair bit of moisture and some chilly nights. On the first evening of the storm, the north wind picked up and drifted snow around all five tents popped up behind the Airstream. Stella never once emerged from depths of my down bag that night or any other night for that matter. The coldest night time temp was 8 degrees, by accident, we left the dressed roosters outside. They froze which was a good thing. Winter camping is not fun. Actually, there is an element of fun behind it, but after a week – I am completely over it.
At one point, there were 11 of us in bird camp. We made dinner, all but 3 nights, cooking outside on grills and stoves to make more room in the Airstreams as the weather forced us in and out of the wind and snow. Most of the time, we hunted in groups of 2 -4, breaking up meant more oppportunites to shoot birds. We all have our favorite spots, some of which only work with two hunters. There were a few hunts which required large parties, blocking and hunting in from opposite sides of the section (640 acres is a section)
Hey Lo Fi, are Canadians drunkards? Just Curious is all.
Huck proved as strong as ever in his 9th season. His skills are more refined, his way to the birds always quick. During the snow storm hunts, Huck was called into action over Stella. The pup is too new in the field, and loosing her in these conditions would have meant I might not have ever found her if she bolted on another deer. Jon and myself hunted a tree row in the CRP during the worst of the storm – blowing snow, white out conditions – and like a magnet on steel shot, Huck pointed the birds from about 500 yards out. Head held high and nose up, he slowly B-lined it for the biggest tree in the row. Izsta, Jonathon’s 12 year old short hair, was right behind him. Occationally, they would stop and look behind to se if we were still there…of course we were. The Germans pinned the birds in the trees and moments later about a dozen pheasants flushed out. I shot a hole through the branches trying to knock down a rooster. We each took a side, walking it’s length about a half mile or so. Nailing four roosters out of that spot, missing several others as a result of long shots and running birds was good fun. The day ended on that hunt – cold, tired and happy. November is the best month of the year.