Discovery

“Well, that worked out nicely.”

Kirk delivered the understatement of the season as we pulled birds from our vests, lined them on the tailgate, and counted beaks… four, five, six. The dogs looked on, satisfied and steaming in the fading light.

“Yeah,” I said, peeling off frozen boots. “That was… yeah.”

It’s been said that a limit of wild, public land roosters is about as likely a harvest in Wyoming as a bull elk. The arithmetic of my personal experience suggests the ditch parrots are even harder to come by. So birds jumping out early and often throughout an abbreviated afternoon excursion make an impression.

All the more so when exploring new country as we had been. The spot had shown potential on paper, but not so much that either of us had ever driven the extra half hour beyond the known commodities to give it a walk through. Turns out that had been a serious omission.

Finding birds is gratifying under any circumstance out here, but doing so in a place that’s new to you, based on a hunch, some map study, and a hefty dose of legwork is triply so. It’s the classic give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish scenario. You leave not just with meat for the pot, but also an extra arrow in the quiver, a whole new facet to your future hunting program, the thrill of “discovery”, and the satisfaction of knowing you earned it. The 20 fruitless but otherwise identical days this season spent wandering unknown brush in search of such bounty only makes the new knowledge that much sweeter.

And, of course, a day like that is exclusively and quintessentially a public land, DIY experience, available to anyone, and only anyone, interested in working for it.

“You know, come to think of it, maybe we just learned why I’ve NEVER heard anyone mention the [REDACTED} side of [REDACTED],” mused Kirk, trying to make sense of what just happened.

“Where?”

“Exactly!”

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