The End — A Cautionary Tale

By Kirk Billings

I finished up bird season last year with a bad knee, a mile and a half march across obscenely muddy flats, and a single chukar in my vest. I’d had to scrounge shells for my 20 gauge to eke out the day and a broken strap on my gaiters flailed along with every step. Even the dog was dragging.

I was hammered after five months of bird hunting, never mind that the season still had three more days in it.

So when the road report came in from my buddy (muddy roads, muddy hills, muddy flats, muddy, muddy, muddy) I had a hard time getting excited for yet another day in the field. I couldn’t do it, even for the last day of the season.

So I didn’t. I stayed home and did chores. Man Jobs, as my wife calls them. I cleared the yard, picked up dog shit, made breakfast, organized the basement, did dishes, built a key rack, cleaned shotguns and generally attended to things I’d neglected since early September.

It felt stupid at first, like I was squandering the last precious few days of a finite resource, but I slowly realized that the day was mine, regardless of the season. Mine to do with what I wanted. Mine to spend as I wished, doing what needed to be done.

The dog never protested. In fact she barely looked up from her bed near the kitchen, tacitly approving my break from our hunting routine.

Enjoying a beer that night and feeling smug about the day’s productivity, I didn’t feel too bad about ignoring the last day of chukar season. Then I figured out I had to wait seven months and a day until grouse season.

Choose wisely this year.

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