Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gettin' ready

Bird season (the kind you hunt with pointing dogs) opens in just about three weeks.  Hard to believe it's been eight months since that unusually warm February day when we closed the book on last season.  Well, actually, there were a few days when it seemed it would never get here but we'll leave the past in the past.

I've been taking Wyatt out to run at a public dove field near my house to get us both conditioned and, truthfully, because pretending is the next best thing when you can't really hunt.  We're in between dove seasons so we have zero company - just the way I like it - and the convenience outweighs the reality that there is little chance of finding something to point.  It's not an ideal situation, bird contact being the best preparation for bird contact, but there's this obstacle to getting a dog on wild birds this time of year called the white-tailed deer. You see, there are LOTS of deer hunters in the south.  It vies with college football for most popular sport in the fall.  It vies with beer for biggest contributor to the state's revenues.  And it vies with me for use of public hunting grounds.

Don't get me wrong.  I enjoy sitting in a deer stand from time to time.  I take about one deer a year, never a trophy buck, usually a doe, and have everything but the tenderloin ground since that's the way my family will eat it.  It's just that those Realtree warriors are everywhere.  It's not like this is South Dakota or Montana or some other spot with a surplus of public land.  And very few whitetails.  Good wild bird land is at a premium here, and those boys with bows are Bogarting it.  The public land harboring wild birds is overrun with guys in treestands, a good many of whom wouldn't think twice about shooting a dog that runs through "their" food plot.

Our state hasn't yet placed a good bird dog's life on par with a human's, although I could make a case for the former being worth multiples of the latter in quite a few cases.  Still, I'm not so obsessed with right vs wrong that I'll risk my dog to prove a point.

Once the bird season opens the schedule allows us equal time with the bow boys.  In the meantime we get out and stretch our legs in a spot without the risk of fatality, plenty of room to run, plenty of space to work on things like patterning and handling and I don't have to drive an hour to get to it.  There's a nature trail not much further down the road that weaves along a river bottom, a perfect spot for woodcock and we'll be there once the flights arrive.  Looking at the weather in the northeast it may be sooner than usual.  No hunting allowed, but a fine place to give a nose a workout.  The hell with those deer hunters - I'll  get my pre-season work in one way or another.  Anyone who says pre-season doesn't count probably never had a winning season.


  1. Bowhunters are one thing... I've found them to be a generally respectable lot around these parts. But beware rifle season. Any idiot with a 30-06 and a 12 pack of Natty Light in him can kill dog or man from a mile away. I have rifle season marked off on my calendar -- as a reminder to take those days off from hunting.

  2. I've been touchy about deer season ever since I fished the canyon section of California's Yellow Creek -- and climbed up to the road to find a pair of trucks rolling up and down the road with hunters in lawn chairs in the back.

    Since sneaking along a small stream in drab clothing might be construed as deer-like behavior, I finally ordered a blaze-orange camo boonie hat.

  3. I wouldn't risk me or my dog in a public deer woods during the season without a lot of Blaze Orange on both of us. Fortunately, deer season on the two WMA's that I will take my dog have specific weekends for deer quota hunts and are closed for deer hunting otherwise. I avoid the deer hunting days. At a third place, the risk to life and limb is hog hunters as the season never ends except for during spring gobbler season.

  4. SW, rifle season is limited to a handful of days on most of our public land. The state worries that if given too much rope these guys will shoot each other. What this results in is a lot of those same rifle hunters buying bows and muzzleloaders so they can hunt more often. I know deer hunters pay most of the bills for the DNR so I don't squawk too loudly about equal time. What we really need is more public land or better bird habitat on some that we already have. We're trying to change that as well.

    TC and Gil are on it, wearing blaze is a smart move any time. Too many stories of guys shooting at movement in the bushes when they "knowed it was a deer".

  5. During a bout of insomnia the weekend before last, I was listening to O'Neill Outside on WSB 750 AM. A GA DNR representative forecast that 320,000 deer hunters would be in the woods that Saturday in GA. A buddy was in the woods in one of the sparsest populated counties. He heard 32 shots the first half hour of light.

  6. I find opening day of bird season better then Christmas morning. Good luck and have fun.