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A Hunting I Will Go

I don’t do it as much as I used to, but this coming Wednesday a hunting I will go.

A decade and more ago I used to go pheasant hunting fairly often. I’ve been to a number of the places around here that offer controlled pheasant hunts. Been to a couple of hunt clubs and have had the opportunity to do a few of the free upland game hunts on property that is set aside for that purpose.

In the last 9 years I think I’ve gone pheasant hunting 3 times. Two of those were on what are called cleanup days. You get to go for free on a few days after the season ends, but your chances of getting birds without a dog are next to nil.

This is controlled pheasant hunting. Birds are released the morning of the hunt. Not ideal, but around here you take what you can get.

Years ago I would go by myself on weekdays when everyone else had to work. Though I’ve never had a dog to hunt with, I never went home without a bird. I’m persistent and like I do with my fishing, I learn the nature of the beast. Where they lie, how and why they fly, what makes them jumpy and it seems to work.

One of the reasons I haven’t gone much in years is the cost. I had no choice but to go into austerity mode financially and my conscience won’t allow me to spend money frivolously when there are bills to be paid.

Though things aren’t great financially at the moment, they’re the best they’ve been in the past five years. To the point where I check my account and, well hell, look at that, a few extra bucks.

I have one vacation day left this year and had no clue what I was going to do with it. I still can’t get used to taking days off of work and they actually pay me to go away. My boss finds it humorous.

I decided to use that last vacation day to go pheasant hunting, but now there was the cost. Once you’re in austerity mode it’s a flat out bitch to think outside of it. I agonized for a week on whether to spend the few bucks it would take for the opportunity to try to shoot a few birds.

My wife finally chimed in…

“Will you just fucking go, you know you want to.”

That snapped me out of it, for the most part.

So Wednesday, the day has been taken off, I paid enough for the possibility of three birds and a hunting I will go.

I know the place where I’ll be going well. I spend a lot of time there wandering around. I know where the birds congregate, where the other hunters push them, I know which way the wind will be blowing that day and I know how to take advantage of how others around me are hunting.

Last week after shooting time ended I went for a walk at the state park. I hiked along a trail to a stretch I always thought looked birdie. I walked in noisily for about 20 feet, then stopped and didn’t make a sound.

A few seconds later a rooster blew up not twenty feet from me.

I could have hit it with a rock.

I still had the touch.

Now I have a decision to make. Do I use the 80 plus year old 12 gauge, no name, single shot, pipe on a stick that is deadly accurate and hurts like hell when you pull the trigger.

Or do I use the Remington Wingmaster Model 870 twenty gauge pump that’s an absolute joy to shoot.

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I think I’ll bring both. I plan on being out there for quite some time since I have the time. Use one for part of the day, then switch.

I’m confident my shooting skills are still up to par.

We shall see.

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A Hard One to Shoot

Sometimes you run into something that’s a hard one to shoot.

This is one of those.

This little valley is maybe 200 yards wide, but I’ll bet it’s a half mile long.

I have no clue what these red leafed things are, burning bushes come to mind, but I have one of those in front of the house I rent.

That’s not it.

Doesn’t really matter.

Knowing the name of something doesn’t make me appreciate it any more, or less.

The ground cover in this valley is pretty sparse. Last week these red leafed bushes were just about all that was left that had any leaves on them.

They were everywhere, for as far as you could see up and down the valley.

None of the other shots I took did them justice.

Not convinced this one does either, but they are a hard one to shoot.

This will do, for now.

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Photo Tip Number One

Okay, maybe I’ve put up a number of them that can be called Photo Tip Number One, but I’ll be damned if I can find them on my own site.

Don’t shoot into the sun.

Yet I continue to do it against all the advice not to.

I like the unexpected sun flare, the odd purple color radiating from that and the shadow streaks heading my way, more or less.

I like the way leaves get back lit, how the fallen leaves shimmer and shine on the forest floor and how the tree trunks turn brown black.

I like how the sky blue sky intensifies around the edges.

So, do as I say, not as I do.

Don’t shoot into the sun.

As for me, I guess I’ll never learn.

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The Last Shot of the Day

There’s always the last shot of the day. That shot when you know you’re done, it’s time to walk away.

There’s a spot I go to at Silver Springs State Park to watch the sun set.

It offers an unobstructed view over a huge prairie.

Seems only fitting to watch sunsets over prairies in Illinois.

After taking this shot I started walking back to the car.

A glance over my shoulder.

There must have been a break in the clouds on the horizon that I couldn’t see. The pink/orange glow was starting to spread across the gray clouds in this shot.

I walked back to my spot, raised the camera, and…

Nothing.

Nothing happened.

The battery was dead.

I think I heard… No shit, really?

I walked backward to the car.

As I drove east, I watched in my rear view mirror as the pink/orange glow grew to cover all that is gray in the shot above.

It covered all of it.

I pointed my rear view mirror downward.

I had seen enough.

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What the Hell are you Doing?

I walked into the kitchen. The wife was cooking… what the hell are you doing?

“I’m cooking up hot dogs for me and mom.”

(Insert laughing here).

I can see that, you’ve got a hot dog on a fork and are cooking it on a burner on the stove.

(More laughing).

“Of course, I do this all the time.”

(Still more laughing).

No you don’t. We’ve been together for nearly 9 years and I’ve never seen you do this.

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(Still more. Besides the low light, the images suck cause it was hard to hold the camera still).

“I do this all the time when you’re not fucking home so I don’t have to put up with your laughing and standing here taking pictures.”

Seriously, did you think I’d respond any other way.

“Didn’t your mom do this for you?” I could hear mom chuckling in the living room.

Uh, no.

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“I’ll bet your mom made up those hideous boiled things.”

Well, yeah…

“Damn Polacks boil everything to death.”

Hillbilly.

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She finished cooking the dog and thrust the charred thing within inches of my nose.

“See, just like cooking it on a fire while out camping. Smells the same and just about tastes the same. Got anything to say about that?”

No, I’m pretty much speechless. (Cause I was laughing too hard).

“That’s gotta be a bitch for you, you always got something to say. Damn Polack.”

Hillbilly…