Saturday, September 27, 2014

The (almost) Dream Job

Orvis gun room in Manchester flagship store

Saw this post on the Orvis News site a few days ago and thought I'd pass it along in case anyone out there has what it takes:

Looking at this job description I have the organizational and managerial side licked. Where I fall woefully short is knowledge of fine shotguns, and I'm fairly sure this would be tough to fake. Not sure the wife would be too excited about winter in VT either.

There's always the question of whether something you do for entertainment would be remotely entertaining if it was your job. Opinions - and experiences - on this vary. Years ago I spent a season guiding at a hunting preserve on weekends, figuring it would be a great way to keep the dog in shape and make a little pocket change. In short, it sucked. What I learned is that there aren't many people who like to hunt the way I do, and the money didn't - couldn't - come close to masking that.

Doesn't mean the job is wrong for everyone, though, and there's someone who's gonna love spending his days talking to people about shotguns and getting paid for it. If you need a field tester, you know where to find me.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A few suggestions

Our dove haven't gone away completely but they haven't spread the word to their friends, either. Yesterday, during another session of long pauses between shots, several things occurred to me that might take dove hunting to the next level. Feast your intellect:
  1. Some well-heeled individual or his namesake charitable trust should fund the genetic development of a dove that, when mortally wounded, turns a shade of bright red or orange. This would eliminate quite a bit of poking in bushes, staring at patches of weeds, walking in ever-increasing circles and generally wasting my time. Time that could be better spent thinking up brilliant improvements to the sport such as this.
  2. Dragonflies, tweety birds, and butterflies should stay the hell out of a field when there is a hunt going on. Peripheral vision being the imperfect sense that it is, all you creatures that resemble a dove in flight over in the corner of my eye do nothing but raise my heart rate and interrupt my otherwise tranquil mood. Fair warning: on slow days you are quite a temptation.
  3. If we can put a man on the moon we ought to be able to figure out a way to keep gnats out of my general face area. Bug spray doesn't work. Ditto Thermacells, in spite of what people keep telling me. If the well-heeled individual in #1 is looking for another project, possibly one with commercial appeal, this would be it. I know gnats are part of the food chain somewhere way down the line, so I don't want to kill them, I just want them out of my face. They can hang out on the other side of my head or around my knees even. Anywhere but my face. And while we're genetically modifying things, let's tweak the gnat and remove whatever it is that attracts them to eyeballs.
That's as far as I got, three flashes of genius in a day being at least two more than I'm normally good for.

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.