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  • A hunting story

    I'm feeling a bit pissed and sad today. On one hand, today is the 30-year "anniversary" of my wife and I's first date. We've always remembered this date, for some reason. So, a good day.

    On the other hand, just found out last night, that the pheasant hunt with her family that I would have been doing this year for the 29th straight year, is not going to happen, due to concerns about traveling, aging parents, and staying in hotels. I work in healthcare, so...well, it is what it is. Not interested in statistics and opinions. The decision has come down. Maybe I'll do an OHH trip and grab the GSP and go by myself. Not sure yet.

    Both of these things made me type this out. I haven't proofed it yet, just typed it out over lunch hour, so it likely has a lot of huh? moments and misspellings, etc. Hope the sentiment comes across though.



  • #2
    Four Good Decisions

    I was 22, and felt like I’d won the lottery. I had a girlfriend who had a good family and they didn’t seem to hate me for dating their only daughter.

    More to the point, they were pheasant hunters, with the Patriarch and hunting grounds located NW Kansas, which back then was really about as good of bird hunting as you could find anywhere in the States. Everyone would gather at Grandpa Ned’s house the day of the hunt.

    Hunting was a well-organized and big affair. If you’ve ever seen the flat expanse of a section-square
    Kansas field, you know how many walkers and blockers and hangers-on you can support.


    My girlfriend’s parents had to be nice to me, the non-relative hunters had no reason not to be nice to me, but the grandparents, uncles and aunts kept me under watchful eye. Not in a mean way, but there’s no free lunch in making a good impression the first time you are included in a family hunt.

    The first thing I did correctly was showing up with an inexpensive but well-worn
    Winchester 1400 shotgun.


    “I had one just like that,” Uncle Dave told me, looking me in the eye for the first time. “Shot a butt-load of birds, too.” He swung the shotgun against the cloudless
    Kansas sky, and handed it back to me, action open. “Don’t shoot me with it.”


    The next thing I managed to do right, involved one of those birds that gets up seemingly right in front of you, against the wind, with nothing to draw your eye away as it lazily climbs straight away from you, slowing at the apex of it’s flight and just hanging there.

    Two shots rang out nearly simultaneously, and the bird made that big satisfying thump as it hit the cornstalks.

    I was fairly, if not totally sure (in that way only a 22-year-old male with a new girlfriend and a comfortable shotgun and still-young reflexes can be) that I had centered the bird with my shot. Which is exactly, I’m sure, what the landowner’s son next to me felt as well. His was the twin to my shot.

    “Pretty sure you got this one,” I said, conscious of the eyes on me along the line as I helped him put the bird into an empty game pouch. “Good shot, too” It was the right choice, and tempered me wanting that bird in the pouch in my vest.

    Opening day was warm and dusty, and the birds were plentiful and flushing wild; each one popping more vibrantly against that achingly-blue sky, offset against the dried corn and sunflower, bromegrass and tumbleweed. I can close my eyes and still see it; still feel the sun and the wind and hear the cries of Rooster! followed by the hollow pops of the shotguns down the line, drawing admonitions that ranged from conciliatory to sarcastic; praising or damning. God, those were high times.

    Even a bunch of limits of birds are short work when there are a lot of hands involved, and soon the day’s worth of roosters soaked nakedly in five-gallon buckets. We threw a dose of canning salt into each one to “draw out the blood” as we used to say.

    Grandpa Ned was the Head Poobah, the father of Uncle Dave and head lease-holder of half of the best pheasant land in the area. Pheasant royalty, in other words, when it came to NW Kansas and hunting plans and opening day. His was the opinion that mattered.

    “Could I get you a beer or a soda? “ he asked, while his son smiled behind him, as we sat watching the dogs panting and growling benignly over the little scraps of pheasant offal they had claimed.

    Making the third good choice of the weekend, I pointed towards the tall highball glasses in both Father and Son’s hands, and said “Actually, I would love some Scotch, if that’s what you all are drinking.”

    It was.

    Those same highball glasses now sit in a revered corner of my whisky cabinet, and Grandpa Ned’s been gone since January of 2000. The house was sold not long after, and though the hunting leases are still mostly the same, the new pheasant cleaning spot became the folding tables and water spigot just Holiday Inn Express just off of I-70. Still good, but different. Twenty-nine years of it, so far.

    “Good decisions have good consequences,” my Mother used to tell me. It was shortly after my tall glass had just been emptied and refilled, and the dogs had stopped quarreling and lie motionless on the still-warm ground against the coolness of the dusk, that my girlfriend braved to invade the area of tired and mildly drunken, loudly bragging and musty-smelling old and young men still sitting in their hunting clothes in the back yard.

    Smiling as she gathered everyone’s glances, wearing neither old hunting clothes and smelling much better than sweaty dank blaze orange canvas shirts, she asked me simply, “Are you having a good time?”

    I was sitting with the Father and Son still, and It was Uncle Dave who answered for me.

    “We have decided, he said loftily, motioning at she and I with his tinkling glass, “that if it doesn’t work out between you two…HE can still hunt with us!”

    Then laughing at his own joke and spilling his drink as he did so, jumped up and slapped me twice on my back, hard enough to matter.

    Then everyone, including my girlfriend, was laughing as well.



    Comment


    • #3
      Excellent story! Thanks for taking the time to write it. And congrats on the 30-year anniversary!

      Comment


      • #4
        Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of my meeting PigHuntress. I had gone to my doctor because of reoccurring chest pains (later determined to be acid reflux). I was in the waiting room and heard my name called. There was a nice looking redheaded nurse standing at the door leading to the back. Following her down the hall, I couldn't help but noticed a very nice swing to her hips. She told me later that she'd intentionally done that because she'd liked the way I looked.

        After getting my vitals and reason for being there, she left me in an exam room to wait on the doctor. He eventually came around and directed Nurse Redhead to give me an EKG. She appeared again and took me to another room, asking me to lie on a table while hooking up the EKG test leads. Man, that was nice, having her so close and reaching over me. We started chatting and I told her I was in the last stages of getting a divorce. She told me that she'd just broke up with her fiancé. Hmmm.

        The doc couldn't find anything wrong on the EKG but wanted Nurse Redhead to schedule me for a stress test just to be sure. When we got alone in her office, I asked for her phone number. After a slight hesitation, she wrote it down for me! The rest is history. I found out later that I was the only patient that had the nerve to ask on the first meeting. Well, I was in sales at the time and had already learned that you probably won't get the order if you don't ask! It's been an adventure ever since.

        Comment


        • #5
          Well done. Fill one of those highball glasses tonight not to mourn what's lost but to celebrate 28 seasons past. I might even join you.

          Comment


          • #6
            PH, redhead huh? You do like living on the edge. My mother, 3 aunts, sister and a strawberry bond daughter are plenty in my life. Was a dark auburn myself until a few years back, turned more brown and now grey coming on.

            Twenty years together come this Christmas season, 18 years married this past summer.

            Comment


            • #7
              Very good write-up. Thank you for sharing with us.

              My wife and I celebrated our first aniversary last week.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by fitch270 View Post
                PH, redhead huh? You do like living on the edge. My mother, 3 aunts, sister and a strawberry bond daughter are plenty in my life. Was a dark auburn myself until a few years back, turned more brown and now grey coming on.

                Twenty years together come this Christmas season, 18 years married this past summer.
                Congrats on the 20 years!

                Yep, PigHuntress does have an edge and has proven to be dangerous if ever backed into a corner. She knifed husband #2 and put him in the hospital when he beat on her one too many times. Of course I treat her like a Princess and have no worries. She's always been a wild one which added to our fun. But at 65 she's slowed a bit and now just shakes her tail in tight pants when dancing at the bar.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Red Angus View Post
                  Very good write-up. Thank you for sharing with us.

                  My wife and I celebrated our first aniversary last week.
                  Wow, newlyweds! Congrats!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Amflyer, thank you.
                    My eyes grew misty at the 30 odd years of hunting memories in the same camp.
                    Grampa, great uncle, dad, friends.
                    At 70. I am the last survivor of the "Horse Shoer" camp.
                    About the only big change is that instead of a Holiday Inn, I can still visit my stomping grounds as the Keechi Creek WMA near Oakwood, TX

                    fitch270, my wife swears that red heads are just "wired" differently. The red head my eldest drug home was a prime example of "wired differently" LOL!
                    Last edited by FirstBubba; 10-15-2020, 07:17 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PigHunter View Post

                      Wow, newlyweds! Congrats!
                      Thank you PH.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Red Angus View Post
                        Very good write-up. Thank you for sharing with us.

                        My wife and I celebrated our first aniversary last week.
                        Didn't realize you were newly married. Congrats. Wife and I just did 31 in July. The first 5 or so we're tough, new jobs, kids, you'll see what I mean. Like college- lots to learn. Then cruise control kicks in and it goes by way too fast. Take my advice. Never get so comfortable in your marriage, or your life for that matter,that you toss days away. Trust me, you'll want them all back someday.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dewman View Post

                          Didn't realize you were newly married. Congrats. Wife and I just did 31 in July. The first 5 or so we're tough, new jobs, kids, you'll see what I mean. Like college- lots to learn. Then cruise control kicks in and it goes by way too fast. Take my advice. Never get so comfortable in your marriage, or your life for that matter,that you toss days away. Trust me, you'll want them all back someday.
                          Thank you. You'd no way to know, I rarely post things about my personal life online.

                          I know a little of what you mean about tough. We got married October 6th. Bought a house in March that needed a lot of work. And then our son was born in July. Throw a plandemic and shutdown in on top of that and it makes for a interesting first year.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Red Angus View Post

                            Thank you. You'd no way to know, I rarely post things about my personal life online.

                            I know a little of what you mean about tough. We got married October 6th. Bought a house in March that needed a lot of work. And then our son was born in July. Throw a plandemic and shutdown in on top of that and it makes for a interesting first year.
                            Can't imagine the quagmire you faced! The fact that you had family close at hand!? WOW!
                            We "we" married, the nearest family was 150 miles away and my dad passed a year and a half after we wed.
                            First kid was a "premie". Tough on all three of us. Weighed 4'8" when we brought the kid home.
                            Don't know about yours, but ours didn't have an instruction manual. For about 2 months, had to be fed every hour or so and wouldn't take over 1.5 or 2 ounces per feeding.
                            No family anywhere near for advice or any kind of assistance.

                            The "Boss" and me will celebrate 42 years this spring. Lots of our friends didn't think either of us would last until the water got hot.
                            We've been through some pretty tough times.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Red Angus View Post

                              Thank you. You'd no way to know, I rarely post things about my personal life online.

                              I know a little of what you mean about tough. We got married October 6th. Bought a house in March that needed a lot of work. And then our son was born in July. Throw a plandemic and shutdown in on top of that and it makes for a interesting first year.

                              We planned our wedding and built a house at the same time while my wife finished her Bachelors degree. I switched jobs between the wedding and house being finished then the wife started her career two months after we moved in the new house. The kid came along 13 months later. Wouldn’t change a minute of it.

                              Comment

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