© 2013 Aaron Atkinson

The Lonesome Hunter

I’ve got a small handful of bird hunting buddies that I hunt with for several days each fall and winter. These guys have bird dogs, they have weekends off, and they’ve got wives who ¬†are willing to be ‘hunting widows’ for a few days each season. When we venture out together we put a lot of miles on the trucks, we hunt hard, we try to ensure that everyone gets their fair share of shooting, we eat big dinners and at the end of the day, we, along side our pups, sleep like the dead.

The mornings are early, it’s usually cold, it’s always windy, dust and dirt find their way into every pore, and if done properly, by the time the sun starts to blend with the horizon, our legs start to feel like a bit al dente. On the surface it sounds like a pretty awful way to spend a winter Saturday. But when the tinge of misery mixes up with a dog on point, a whir of feathers and a well-aimed load of number 5s, it turns into something magical. The effort and the bit of suffering make the prize all the more special.

Most of my friends know that I hunt. And over the years I think I’ve invited almost all of them to join me. Sitting in the stands watching a Royals game in April, bird hunting sounds like a good idea. Standing around a June bonfire, bird hunting sounds like a lot of fun. When it’s time to rake the October leaves on an Indian summer day, chasing a few pheasants has a lot of appeal. But when the steel grey of January comes around, most all of the spring, summer and fall ‘sounds like funs’ melt into prior commitments and other conflicts.

I don’t fault my mind-changing friends. Until that first rooster goes up and comes down, it’s a whole lot easier to picture the misery than the magic. So Indie and I do we always do, after all, we’ve got a small handful of bird hunting buddies that we hunt with for several days each fall and winter.

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