Before Rupert pushed his wiry self into our lives, I thought I knew what it meant to own a dog. Feed it, walk it, play with it, and make sure there is enough room on the bed for them to sleep.However, I didn’t know what it meant to own a bird dog.
In May I was given the opportunity to attend an outreach event put on by Pheasants Forever held at the beautiful Trout Lodge YMCA of the Ozarks in Missouri. The event brought together Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation and North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association and focused on the tactics and techniques of outreach with the goal of moving conservation efforts forward.
I wonder what I’ll do when that king of birds flushes up through the thicket in a thunder of wings and feathers. Will I rise to the challenge and take a shot? Will I miss? As it turns out, I did neither.
Behind me is a lighthouse - brick red with a snow white top. It has watched over this place for hundreds of years.
As we prepare, Rupert seems calm with a stern demeanor. This is new, Rupert a born clown, has learned that finding ruffed grouse takes a cool determination.
Whoa.” Rupert stops at the edge of a field located in George W. Mead Wildlife Area (Wisconsin). I remove his lead and and watch his body quiver with excitement. He looks up at me with eyes that seem twice as big as they were just minutes ago.
“Rupert, fetch, fetch, fetch.” I command softly as I point to a scattering of primary feathers pulled from the chest of a hen pheasant. Rupert and I didn’t see the bird being released but our current task was to track it down in thick cover.
The tires hummed a low rumble as the truck rolled to a stop. Through the passenger side window, the night sky could be seen reflecting off of the frost-covered field.
“I have a roadkill deer,” read the early-afternoon text message from my husband. “Call around for processing.”
Without exhausting much effort, I learned the butcher shop in town was still accepting deer for processing into neatly packaged steak, roasts and hamburger. After passing the information, including the cost of services, along to Scott, my phone dinged with another message.
“Expensive,” it read.
“Rupert heel!” I barked as I brushed the hair back from my eyes. Rupert turned toward me at an angle, lowering his head below his withers and tilting his snout down toward the snow. Rupert’s golden brown eyes glowed back at me through the wiry fur partially covering his face. I immediately knew Rupert had no intention of healing or doing anything else that would resemble the behavior of a well-trained bird dog.
I am a deer hunting expert for precisely three months out of the year. To be exact, I am an expert during February, March and April. Why these three months?
No matter how prepared you think you might be, the loss of a beloved pet is always a hard blow to absorb. It doesn’t get easier the older you get, or the older they are when they pass or how long it’s been since they’ve been gone.
Rupert’s front legs were shaking with anticipation as I asked him to remain seated in the passenger seat of the pickup truck. We argued briefly about why he wasn’t allowed to sit in the driver’s seat. He didn’t seem to agree with my contention towards safety, but eventually settled into his place.
The days are starting to grow longer but winter still has a stranglehold on Wisconsin. While I daydream of spring flowers and summer gardens, I decided it was time to find a new hobby to help occupy my time during the winter months. But what to choose?
Letting a bird dog into my house was the worse decision I ever made… I’ve lived with Rupert, a wirehaired pointing griffon, since August of 2014 so let me offer some advice to the reader considering buying a puppy.
In the dead of winter I am missing the crunch on dirt under my fingernails, slapping away swarms of bloodthirsty flying vampires and, yes, even the smell of chicken-made fertilizer. The sunburn, the aching back and broken nails are all worth it when you pluck the first vine-ripened tomato from the bushes or slice into the season’s first zucchini.
As of this writing I have just learned that I successfully completed all the forms, and passed all the necessary tests, to become a licensed fur trapper. Please don’t confuse this with actually being a fur trapper.
As I sit here, wrapped in my crocheted afghan and with the heating blanket roaring on the back of the couch, I thought I knew what cold was. Boy was I wrong.
The 2014 whitetail season is over for me. I found some success, had a blast and learned more than I could have expected.
I signed up for hunter’s safety today. After nearly 30 years on this earth, those are words I never thought I would say…er write…
Physical fitness and sports are inexorably connected and there should be no exception for the outdoorsman. Most hunters take steps to stay safe while on the hunt. Dropping a pretty penny on expensive gear to keep them in a tree or visible from miles away. It’s probably money well spent, but many hunters overlook their personal health.