Moving Up In The World

Churning my legs with my four year old slung over my shoulder and a shotgun in my left hand, I tried to keep pace with the dogs. We were into birds and I aimed to get the jump on them this time. My son had been doing a good job of keeping up, but on the steep slope with thick cover full of “pokes” as he calls them, he needed my help.

Early that morning he proclaimed a desire to go bird hunting. I loved his enthusiasm but was unsure how to put it all together. I hunted upland birds with the kids on my back when they were smaller, and have hunted with them out of a blind since, but they hadn’t been up for hiking on their own just yet. So we talked it over. Trying to front load, I explained that we would have to work hard, walk far, stay focused, and their was no guarantee of birds. He was still in. I decided it was worth a shot.

The old dog swung low and we found ourselves out of position again. The huns flushed just out of range. It turns out that keeping two labs, one shotgun, a four year old, wild birds and myself all within shooting distance is no simple task. Seeing birds is great, but after a couple hours, and some serious mileage, my son was getting tired.

He wanted to take a break. His legs hurt. He was bored. “We weren’t even getting any birds.” But he hung in there. At one point I looked back and found him gathering up a bunch of wheat stubble. Upon inquiry he informed me “I’m building a nest so the birds will have a place to land…then we can shoot them”. I liked his ingenuity.

Nearing the truck I was distracted by another vehicle in the distance, likely deer hunters. My son brought me back. “Dad it looks like the dogs are smelling something”. Swinging my head I saw undeniably birdy dogs. Heads down, tails cracking, birds erupted into the sky. I managed to knock one down and the dogs made short work of the retrieve. My son was ecstatic. We exchanged high fives, examined the bird, praised the dogs. His hard work paid off and the lesson did not escape him.



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