Friday, January 4, 2013

Of Boys, Guns, and Their Dog





Dogs were meant to have a boy that loves them.  Boys were meant to have a dog that is their best friend and constant companion.  They were meant to share ice cream cones, lick for lick.  They were meant to sleep in the same bed, to get wet and muddy when they were specifically told they could not, and to find mischief together.  Jesse is our dog and he is lucky, he has 4 boys that love him and want him as their constant companion.  He also has 2 girls to spoil him, put bows on his ears, and to snuggle with him on the living room floor.  He is a lucky dog!

Hunting dogs were meant to hunt; that is all they know.  Well that isn't completely true, they know how to successfully beg food from the table, casually increase their legal domain in the house, and to drag all the dirty, stinky rags out of the laundry room onto Mom's carpet and roll on them without serious consequence.  From the day we got Jesse he has been hunting.  Whether it was the pigeons in the coop at the kennel where we bought him,  slinky weights on the end of a steelhead rod in the backyard , the grasshoppers in the dry grass of summer, the mice in the compost pile out back, my sisters chickens, or the pheasants along the river, his nose is ALWAYS at work!

Boys too were meant to hunt.  They need to explore the thickets of fall looking for grouse, quail, snipe, and pheasants.  They will learn where to expect the flush, how to swing through the bird, and to mark the fallen.  They need to learn to out maneuver an old rooster, to spot the outline of a well hidden ruff grouse next to the bark of an old Spruce, and how to work cover so the bird has to flush exposed and in range.




They need to lie in the tall, wet grass and weeds on the edge of the mud flats with a hundred mallards working their decoys and learn when to call and when to lay quite.  How to rise quickly when the birds are finally committed and how to identify the lone drake on the outside of the group and to make a clean kill when they birds flare hard.

They need to understand a big buck will hang back in cover letting the young and inexperienced expose themselves first, drawing the hunters fire.  They to be able to spot the tines of a bull elk in thick cover while they quietly pick their way through the worst north slope blow down in Oregon.  They should to be able to look at a herd of elk across a canyon and tell you which are bulls and of the bulls which are spikes from color alone.  They need to learn to properly take care of an animal, to pack heavy loads across unforgiving terrain, and to process the animal to steaks, burger, and roast.

But when a boy hunts with a dog, he needs to learn to trust his dog.  Sometimes its a wild chase off the top of a chukar ridge back to the bottom where you started.  Sometimes its through thick cover you can barely crawl through to the small opening in the middle where the dog is locked up on point.  Sometimes its through the sparse weeds at the end of a low spot in a field that doesn't like it could hide a mouse, let alone the 20 pheasants that finally pile out of it.  And the dog needs to learn to obey and follow the orders he is given; it could save his life.










The only thing missing in this relationship is the gun that ties them together.  It doesn't have to be expensive, fancy, or pretty.  A true boy, a good boy, a boy worth having, is appreciative of what he has been given.  He will dream of a sweet little over/under, a fast swinging auto loader, or a reliable pump with an extra long barrel for ducks and geese, but a gun, any gun that is his, that he can carry and hunt with over his dog, will be good enough.  And one day he will own that dream gun.  He will pick up cans along the side of a road, pick up pennies off the sidewalk, work odd jobs for neighbors, and he will sacrifice the pizza, video games, and junk his friends are buying until he has saved enough money buy the gun he dreams of.............and the wait will be worth it!









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