Woodcock Looking Journey within the South


“The Season” is a brand new on-line column from F&S editor-at-large T. Edward Nickens. You may additionally observe Nickens’ adventures on Instagram @enickensAnd you may examine his adventures in his latest e book, The Last Wild Road, an anthology of his greatest F&S tales. Order it here or wherever books are offered.

It’s a curious enterprise, being the dogless wingman to a critical chicken canine proprietor. I like to bird hunt, and I really like significantly to chase woodcock, with which I share an affinity for moist woods and tangled bottoms. However I’ve begun to grasp that I’ve a really completely different relationship with this pursuit than my buddies with chicken canine. I don’t share their unbelievable investments of time, love, and cash into their canine—so proper off the bat, I’m a bit handicapped after I hit the woodcock woods with a buddy and his pups.

My problem is that this, although: I’ve by no means cared to play tagalong, regardless of the pursuit. Not that I’ve to run the present—actually, I promise—however I benefit from the hunt, and I get turned on by pitting my expertise and smarts in opposition to no matter wild animal I chase. I have to carry one thing to the sport aside from firepower, or I rapidly lose curiosity. It’s why I’d quite chase bluefish or Spanish mackerel than marlin or wahoo. In bluewater, I’m out of my depth. All I can actually do is crank the reel deal with. I’m labor, not administration. And I like administration. I’m not wired to be a spectator.

So I’ve needed to discover my place within the cosmos of chicken searching. I’m thrilled to be within the rotation, even when I carry little to the occasion however a prepared spirit. Till the canine factors. That’s when all of it will get actual for me.

This time it’s Mike Riddick’s German short-haired pointer, Ella, locked on a chicken, and as I shut the gap. My thoughts races to play my half. I make micro-adjustments to my method. I wish to cease with as clear a discipline of fireplace as potential, no small feat in these tangled woods. I would like that huge holly tree to be far to my left, so a flushed chicken can’t get misplaced in its darkish bulk. I transfer via the woods, breaking briars with my gloved left hand, my naked proper hand pushing the gun in entrance. After I’m 20 toes away, I flip my left shoulder to the canine and begin a intentionally angled method: Left foot ahead, proper sliding into place, shotgun up, feeling the forest backside to steer clear of and downed branches and briars. At any split-second the chicken can flush, so each split-second might be the second at hand. It’s all been in regards to the canine till now. And I do the whole lot in my energy to shut the deal.

I’m not the one one with a laser focus. After I get a transparent have a look at Ella, I almost burst out laughing. She is as stable as sculpted marble, unmoving, a staunch textbook level. However the woodcock on the bottom has moved to the aspect after her level. She has her near-side eyeball over-rotated thus far, monitoring the chicken with out transferring her head, that the eyeball almost bulges out of its socket. Instantly I recall opening day of deer season final 12 months when a stout 8-pointer minimize behind my tree at 20 toes, and I minimize my eyes thus far to the left that I gave myself a half-day headache and feared I’d sprained an eyeball muscle, if such a factor exists. However I wasn’t transferring my head. I wasn’t taking that probability.

“Good work, Ella,” I whisper. I do know what it feels prefer to need it so dangerous that you’ll your physique to do issues it doesn’t wish to do. Ella cuts me a fast look together with her different eyeball. Jeez, you gonna flush this chicken or what? I’m dying in right here.

After which the woodcock has had sufficient. It bursts from the leaves like a dervish, a clatter of wings almost beneath my toes and I don’t bear in mind the shotgun rising or the security slipping off or the muzzle bead monitoring the chicken via the river cane but it surely all occurs. The second is at hand, and I would like it fairly badly, too, and when the gun hits my shoulder it’s identical to I prefer it: All on me now.





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