Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Art


     I woke in a cold sweat with my Setter, Tic's nose one inch from my face. His terrible breath was a comfort to me as it was the first clue given that I had only been dreaming. I had a nightmare! They had canceled bird season and all I kept thinking was how all the hard work we had done during the off season was to be wasted. What would I do in the fall with no bird hunting? A smile came to my face as I sat up put two feet on the floor and said jokingly, “Cancel bird season?” I had to laugh. I looked down at my little Setter sitting in front of me looking at me like he knew something about today. “yes we are going to hunt birds,” I said quietly. He looked excited to hear me say the words that he had been hoping for, and had heard so many times. I got to my feet, stumbled through my morning routine and It wasn’t long before we were standing at one of our favorite haunts. It was early November and we were really into our bird groove. Ruffed grouse were on my mind, and the thought of a hike through the Wasatch Mountains was sounding really good.
   Standing with my gun broke under my arm looking up at the glory before us I could feel the light breeze blowing the crisp smell of winter down the mountain to sting my face. Soon it would snow, and I was happy to get another hunt or two in before winter in the high country. The wind would be perfect for Tic, and I was excited to see my veteran bird dog perform his version of art in
front of me. The leaves were mostly gone the trees were barren, we were alone, and there wasn’t an unnatural sound to be heard. Perfect! I thought about the terrain I had walked so many times, and quickly came up with a strategy. It would be a long hike along a gentle ridge to the top, and then our best chances at birds would be on the other side. Without another thought I sent Tic to hunting and I started in behind him working up the ridge toward the top. Walking in the forest behind Tic these days is like being with the best old friend I can possibly imagine. It is comfortable and relaxing. There is a feeling of trust and a complete understanding of each other. I don’t have to say anything he just plays his role on our team, and I do my best to fill mine. We are in sync.
    My thoughts blend into the surroundings, Tic moves to my side, and a complete relaxation comes over me as I now find myself standing on the top of the world gazing humbly out over all of creation. The magnitude of what's in front of us leaves me feeling small and insignificant. Tic standing beside me looks as though he is as captivated by the landscape of the world below us as I. We are alone, but stand together motionless, and silent. Only the sound of the wind blowing across, through, and between us separates our being. Without a sound, a gesture or command we start down together in perfect unison working toward a common goal. I feel connected and in sync with him, and I know he feels the same. My eyes follow his movements as he casts across the unbelievable landscape, searching, always searching. He is a picture of life, of beauty, and athleticism against the backdrop that is mountains, canyons, trees, and rock that run from here to eternity. Their beauty is just a Siren's call luring us into the difficult, and relentless terrain that causes struggle, and harbors our reason. We search long and hard until all at once the world stops. He has found a place to stand. His tail straight in the air , his nostrils flaring,
and his mouth is tasting the sweet intoxicating flavor of scent that he lives for. He is motionless before me like in a painting that only I can see. The picture moves me emotionally and just for a second I am hesitant to move in, flush the bird, and shatter the perfect moment. I now have to do my job for him as he has done for me. Carefully I slide in toward the standing dog. Ready, focused and almost frightened with anticipation. I can hear myself breath. Then with the first wing beat silence turns to chaos, and the bird is flashing through the trees. All in one motion my feet shift, the gun to my shoulder, the safety off, the quick swing and the report of the gun brings the bird crashing to a stop. I can hear my breath again, and then Tic's as he returns to me carrying his prize, his head held high with pride. I break my gun and remove the spent shell. I can smell the soothing aroma of burned powder. For just a moment we are content and accomplished before we return to our search.
   That would be the only time we would achieve perfection on the day. This was a beautiful dream that stood in contrast with the nightmare I had woken from in the morning. I never tire of watching a veteran bird dog brush his print in the canvas of the magnificent world we are so bless to be a part of. There is nothing more beautiful.


Thank goodness for bird season.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad I found this blog!
Keep up the good work.
Quick question, which shotguns do you shoot?

Bret Wonnacott said...

Thank you very much!
Being from Utah Im a browning man. I love citoris especially in the feather weights. My favorite is a 525 feather.

Bret Wonnacott said...

Thank you very much!
Being from Utah Im a browning man. I love citoris especially in the feather weights. My favorite is a 525 feather.