After pissing the girls off that last week of the season, even teasing them by putting my oiled gun and stinky MOTHER vest near the frontdoor, we instead spent the last day of the bird season taking pics of silly Bighorn Sheep - due to the minus zero-temps..and they were none pleased I assure you.
In an attempt to make them "Happy again"........ I decided we ought to hit another bird-preserve, and what better time than when its an unusual 40 degrees, instead of 5 below...(an 'odd winter' were having here in MT).. ...Both girls were excited as there was no snow once we crossed the Continental Divide. And while there is at least one preserve which doesn't require such a long-haul from home ; I kinda needed 'a short road trip' myself... Okay I'll admit, anytime I say its: "for the girls' benefit" its actually more or less for my own pleasure as well.
Fact is, I just cant stand sitting in that bloody singlewide on a day off when there's still 10 million acres of the state of Montana left to explore... .............
And so the three of us found ourselves "On the otherside of the Continental Divide", on a Tuesday at noon, in debt up to my eyeballs, late on every bill in the mailbox, but somehow 'content to fill our gamebag' out-of-season ... ...on another shooting-preserve, and enevitably 'screaming vulgar language' when I miss the first two shots easily.
Only to later have to ask the ranch-manager to 'bring a shotgun so he can back me up' and we might actually kill some bloody birds!? ....
We'd been 'hunting wild' as he called it, myself and the girls for about an hour or so, but this essentially meant we were just exhausting my dogs moving nothing but deer, but 'nada' when it came to birds...Worse still my britches got torn on some briars and my right knee even 'gave out' at some point in the headhigh cattails.. By this point I was plain exhausted and when he showed back up asked:..."Where exactly did you put the bird...?"
"Oh I dont wanna ruin the surprise.." he answered.
"Look dude where the hell is the %$#@ bird you put out"..?!
At this point I think I might have pushed his limits of hospitality and he said:..."Fine, its down there by the open gate" pointing a hundreds yards away.
"Oh for heavens sakes I'm tired man, why not just put it right next to the damned truck"?! ..."I've done walked nearlly the whole 1,200 acres already."
Before he left I told him: "go catch up another bird" and put it out.."I got money" (even though I dont).
This was a bust so far, and mostly my fault for missing the first two, but as is my nature I began blaming him instead.
Nice old fella that he was he hustled in his truck and then slowed meeting me at the open-fence, which I didnt expect, but appreciated as he near directed me with hand signals to the waiting rooster within a foot...
Mocha thankfully had already pinned it down by then, so I eased in, flushed the rooster and clean missed on the first try, but thank god connected on the second..
"Good shot (s)"!, I heard across the field, before he drove on.
After that I took a couple pics of Mocha with the bird, but soon noticed she'd somehow 'come up lame' in her right front leg too (we were both now in sad shape). I checked her out and put her in the truck to rest, then met the manager back toward the farmhouse.
He'd put another rooster out and I darn nearlly cussed him again when he tried to make it "an adventure"...but eventually let Suzie out to find her bird ....and she did rather quickly; only to have me miss "twice" and even the manager took an errant shot as it flew right-to-left!
,,,And to top it all off, Suzie decides since there's someone watching that now would be great time to run after the bird, across a county road, and deep into a ditch on the otherside; so I can scream like a child at her and blow my whistle making a fool of myself to the manager - trying to console the fat guy for missing, and I even zapped her at #3 to get the point across several times..
..About 30 seconds later the manager starts saying something about:" you know she might've seen it get hit and you didn't..." and sure as shit here comes my gorgeous Suzie with a half-dead rooster firmly gripped in her little mouth, back from 'what had to be a 100 yard-marked-retrieve' and I'd been giving her a little juice the whole way...?
She delivered-to-hand as she always does, and kinda looked up at me to say:"WTF"??
Which made me feel like total shit of course.
.... At that point I called it a day, and it was now 'trophy time', even though Mocha still seemed up lame.
Still, ..Suzie has to 'critique' and came in at least twice to make sure her' birds were properly represented.
To be fair, the place was amazing as far as shooting-preserves go, knee to chest high cover and tons of it, river bottoms, creeks, swamps, and likely tons of birds in early season, but it being late; we didnt come across many he hadn't just released. The place had also been hunted hard this past weekend, so that had something to do with it. Though I said 'I walked the whole lot', of course I barely covered a 1/3, but every step after that felt like I had.
All in all it was another good day in Montana.
*Since posting this on UJ, I recieved a nice email and it looks like I'm headed back with a couple English Setters and a friend next week; who'll be there to 'back me up' in case I miss again over my own girls; so stay tuned for another "adventure"...?