Very Small Game
“Look Dada a clue, a clue!”
Live water is an hour away this time of year, and viable bird hunting is nearly as committing. With only a two hour window to spare, Everett and I had opted instead to creep around the sage and look for small game. Maybe the dog would kick up a snowshoe hare. In anycase we’d bag some much needed sunlight and fresh air.
“Is it a elk track?” he asked in hushed, conspiratorial tones.
“Maybe some kind of mouse”, I guessed.
“Yeah, cause see he went boing, boing, boing, and he’s got a spiky thing here, and … and… he um… he um went into that sage brush! Dada, Dada is he hiding in the sagebrush?” he asked, shuffling closer to me. Imaginary critters leaving clues are one thing, but a potential field mouse ambush is another altogether.
“Hard saying”, I offered. Then he was off, looking for the next clue.
He’s at a size where the kid carrier, while still doable, isn’t terribly enjoyable for either of us. So he walks more. It’s a significant change in our program and a big shift in perspective for both of us.
When I found him next, he was crouched by a suspicious looking cone of mineral debris, and rusty cable, ready to deliver a natural history lecture.
“If you hit the ant-hole with a stick the ants come out and the white things are the baby eggs and the ants take the eggs away and if they’re red ants they’ll bite you but not black ants black ants are our best friends so if it’s red ants I’ll drop the stick and put my hands in my pockets! K?” he explained in a single breath.
“Sounds like you’ve got a plan”, I said. “Have at er’.”
“And did you know red ants are meaner than we are? It’s for real, cause see one time, I was being a red ant’s best friend, and it STILL bit me, even though I was being it’s best friend, but not the black ant. He was nice. I love black ants.”
“Do you still want to poke the anthill?” I asked, enjoying the lesson but ready to continue our walk.
“No…not anymore… well um… ok… I’ll just be brave” he said.
Limited by short legs, we cover a lot less ground in the new paradigm. Somehow we always manage to see a whole lot more though. We’ve already found, for example, an entirely new category of small game hunting.