Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Here and gone

Dove season interrupted the summer nap on Labor Day, as usual sporting heat and soul-crushing humidity. But the birds were there and we were too, hoping for a barnburner, always hoping.

And as always, some higher power insists on turning everything fun into a learning experience. When the heat index approaches triple digits wearing short pants seems like a bright idea until a bird goes down in the trees and weeds. Teeth clench as the briars pick at bare skin, etching red lines that sting when the sweat finds them. About ten feet into the thick stuff that thought about poison ivy materializes. Remind me again why I think this is fun?

Date #2 came the birds stood us up. Never seen them disappear so early in the year, seemingly without a reason although that's never the case. Weather, lack of food, and hunting pressure are just about the only things that will move them out and other than a frog strangler of a thunderstorm none of these were in play. I'm still waiting for the "It's not you" phone call. Or text.

Some guys can't take a hint. Back at it again on Sunday..

Monday, September 8, 2014

Birds of prey(ed)

Longer than I've been alive men who hunt bobwhites have competed with natural predators for the privilege of dining on the brown bundle of feathers. For years a thriving fur trade coupled with abundant bird habitat rendered the contest moot, but times have changed and lately it seems more and more landowners are aggressively managing predator populations in an effort to leave more birds for the wingshooters. As evidenced by this story, some are taking it a bit too far, or at least aren't being very discreet about it:
3 sentenced in SC for killing hawks and owls
The sentences for the perpetrators - $500-$1000, a ban on trapping (odd, but maybe there's something I don't know), and community service - aren't much of a deterrent. The fine for the plantation owner sent a bigger message. At $250,000, it's enough to wake up even the well-heeled owner and I'm sure others in the area will think twice before encouraging their managers to keep the hawks in check.

The topic itself is probably as polarizing among hunters and landowners as religion and politics are in other circles, and facts, pesky things that they are, often aren't enough to sway opinion. Tall Timbers and the Albany Quail Project have conducted plenty of research showing that predator control has a negligible effect on bird populations. The money and time would be better spent on a number of other things that DO have a demonstrated effect. Still, predator control isn't very difficult and it's easy to show results, at least in terms of dead predators, and if you're a plantation manager trying to impress the boss I guess that's something.

Until you get caught.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Game time

It's been a long stretch since the weather was cold and the trees were bare of leaves. Everything since then leads up to now in more ways than one.

Workouts in the heat, watching film, drills, even a little scouting. No off-season injuries either, knock on wood. A few of the redshirts have eyes on the starting lineup. Last year's record wasn't exactly one for the record books. Maybe a new look on the uniform will change the luck. Everyone is undefeated at this point.

The season kicks off this weekend.

Someone said football starts, too.