From Sean & Liz: If you have been to The Southern you will know the excitement you feel heading out to the course to compete or ducking into the vendor tents to see familiar faces and look around at all things related to shooting. We all look forward to this event every year, and we were disappointed to hear that this year’s event was canceled. So…we decided to host the virtual Southern Side by Side Classic.
So it’s been a long week here at Dogs & Doubles. The company I work for won a big award, so I’ve been out crazy, pulling together a ton of marketing materials to promote the win. On top of that, it’s still cold here, and even though it’s officially spring, it’s snowing out right now. Oh well.
On a more positive note, a friend send me a link to this picture. This woodcock was found in Brooklyn. Looks like he got lost on his way north. A good samaritan found the little guy stunned in the street and released the little bird in a local park. I hope he found his bearings and is heading this way.
Turkeys are early risers, and hunting them means waking up even earlier. So when my alarm went off at 2:45am a couple Saturdays ago, I was cursing these birds and wondering if shooting one was going to be worth the effort.
My guide and I were in our blind by 4:30am. My camo face mask wasn’t even over my eyes when we heard toms gobbling in their roosts. As the light came up,the black silhouettes bordering the field in front of us turned into green pines, poplars, and birches. Birds chattered around us, unseen crows squabbled and sounded off, a pair of owls asked “Who…Who…Who-who.”
A pair of hens pitched out of the trees, then an ambitions gobbler. All three worked the field, well over 100 yards away. We sat and hoped. My guide scratched his call. The gobbler thought no. By 6:30pm the sun was up, the hens were gone, and we were moving on.
Running and Gunning means driving from spot to spot, calling, and listening for gobblers to respond. We had a gobble at our fifth spot, and within minutes we had our backs to a rock wall, a hen decoy in the boot tall green grass in front of us, and a gobbler coming our way.
My guide scratched out a call. The turkey gobbled. The gobbles grew more assured and distinct. Closer. My old 12 gauge Fox shotgun was up and ready for the shot, even though the turkey was still a ways off.
Then there he was, probably 80 yards out, at about 3 o’clock, then 70 yards. All puffed up like a Thanksgiving centerpiece, strutting and snorting like he knew he was the morning’s big event. I took him at about 15 yards, and he tumbled and rolled as the Fox boomed and the 1 3/8ozs of lead hit home.
Bursts like this one where Valdene rifts on spring lift Making Game from reportage and into the world of art.
“Spring probes the imagination by tacking from gloom to color, from apathy to the naivete of revery, and by insinuating an inkling of clairty into the dull haze of hibernation. Her promise of life, of revelry, of natural beauty is deliberate, sometimes palpable, other times so faint as to be mistaken for passing fancy. Her curtain may loiter in midstream, only to reopen momentarily on the breast of a goldfinch or descend under the weight of a grey rain, all the time uprooting and tempting, taunting and promising the inevitable, until one morning, for no apparent reason, dawn sighs and a flushed breath of air warms the earth. Spring is the breakfast of the year.” pg. 29-30
The woodcock are officially back in Maine. Puck pointed our first one of 2012 yesterday. I thought we would find more of them, but they just weren’t around. It is a little early, though. Puck also pointed a grouse. Overall, it was nice day. Enjoy the pics.
The US and the UK: we both pursue game birds. We just do it in very different ways. Over here we hunt, in the UK they shoot. But on both sides of the Atlantic, well trained dogs are essential to having a good time and doing things right.
Take a look at this video to see how dogs are used on a driven shoot in the British Isles. The video is a bit long, but it gives you a thorough look at how things happens. As a plus, there’s some great video of some cocker and springer spaniels. Enjoy.
I just got back from the 2011 Southern Side by Side spring gathering. This event takes place outside of Sanford, NC, and it was a great time–good people, great weather, and lots of fantastic guns. Below is my grand photo gallery from the event. Sit back and enjoy.