Sunday, November 19, 2006

My Grandfather............

..........loved to hunt what we called in my youth, "Birds". Birds being defined in particular as 'Quail' or , more precisely 'Bob White Quail'.

In the area around Lawrenceville, Ga in the '50s and '60s, there were plenty of places you could go to hunt. We were related to practically every body in the county in one way or the other. At least the ones that mattered to us. So even though 'grandpa' lived on his own 100+ acre dairy farm, and My dads farm just 3 miles away was 300+ acres and we could find birds most any time on both farms, there were plenty of places to go hunting on land of relatives or friends, of which he had so many.

Pa,(pronounced Paw)loved English Springer Spaniels, for his bird dogs. Trained to search over a field or woodlot until picking up the scent of a bird or Covey of them preferably, then track the scent to where they were roosting or feeding. They are a beautiful sight to behold in the fall among the colors of the turning leaves.

When the dogs would get close to the birds they would go on point. If you've never experienced the joy and excitement of walking up behind a bird dog on point, you've missed out on one of the great joys and excitions of all time.

A good dog, on a crtain for sure covery of quail just ahead of them, will point with his nose at the birds, stretch his body out, sometimes lowering himself in attempt to not spook the birds, raise one front foot, almost as if ready to take one more step, then stretch out his tail in a straight line, almost like an arrow ready to fly from the taut stretched bow.

Hardly daring to breath you walk up behind the dogs, trying to position youself for a shot in the direction you expect them to go, speaking softly to the dogs, as you draw even with them, you urge them forward.....'easy, easy, move up, where are they?.

Slowly the dogs will, one step at the time, ease forward to where their quarry is supposed to be....

...........SUDDENDLY, They explode off the ground, flying desperately in differant directions so as not to run into each other, some high, some low.

Startled by the expected eruption, you try to aim your 16 ga. Fox/Savage double barrel at a down.........identify another.....Boom.......hopefully if you're good another down.

You quickly eject the spent shells and reload, in case a straggler rises..........

......then, call to the dogs, which took off like a flash toward the birds as soon as they broke cover. Here Pepper........Dead bird, dead bird. If their good they immediatly start searching for a bird on the ground. You guide them into where you saw the prey fall they locate the dead or wounded birds and gently pick them up in their mouths and return them to you, to lay them in your outstretched palm.....Goood dog........Good girl.....good boy. Not even a tooth mark on them. Good dog.

A few years before Pa's death, my wife and I gave him for Christmas one year a ceramic statue of a female Bob White Quail with a chick at her side. What do you buy a 75 yr old man anyway. He kept it on his gun case. After his death it came back to me. I'm looking at it now.

I miss hunting with my Grandfather. I hope where ever he is........

On a beautiful fall day, he'll arise, eat one of my grandma's hearty breakfasts, and then head out to a day of hunting, calling to his dogs, 'Let's go get some birds.

And there are no briars and kudzu for him to have to struggle thru.


Jean said...

Larry, that is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read.
What a wonderful memory. You expressed it so clearly and with so much love... wonderful!

MamaSMorgan said...

I loved reading that. It brought back memories of all those trucks going to the back of your farm, and us kids having to stay near the house. It also reminds me of Pa and how I loved being around him. Pepper tore my Raggedy Ann's head off.