The Hunt


The black coffee tastes good as I watch Ruger and Cooper woof down their kibble. My faded brown, broke-in Carhartt canvas duck pants feel good and excite the dogs. The pants are a cue for them of what lies ahead. I like this special time of day. The house is quiet as my wife and daughter are still asleep and it’s just the dogs and me. Slipping on my woodland camo Muck boots, we head out the back door.

Think Dog

Cooper, my border collie/golden retriever mix takes the lead as Ruger, my 12.5 year old black lab is more casual and pretty much stays with me. It’s not long and we are in prime hunting grounds. It’s a cool morning and the hoar frost glints in the first rays of sunlight that squeak through the horizon. It doesn’t take long!

There’s no closer bond than that of a man and his dogs, especially while on the hunt. Hours of hard work, practice, skill and discipline all pay off as the bond strengthens.

With Cooper’s faster metabolism, the hyper hound goes on point. The border collie genes fight the golden retriever in him, giving him an awkward, almost comical “point.” But point he does and the shot is quick, clean and effective as I wander over and scoop up the quarry. “Good boy, Cooper!” I say, giving the happy hound praise. I can tell the pressure is off him as he happily scampers along.

For this hunt, I carry an old trusted compadre’ of foreign origin. The familiar heft and contour of the wood feels good and reassuring. It would be a tough hunt without it, as I have taken a lot of game with my faithful friend.

As we continue our stroll, Ruger is up next. Being older, it usually takes him longer to finally get on point. When he does, his crouch is lower, but stable. I talk soothingly to the old guy, “That’s it boy! Good job,” as he struggles. Though the shot takes longer, it’s successful and I quickly recover the quarry.

By now, the sun it up and the hunt continues. Walking in the crunchy leaves is soothing but makes it much harder to spot and recover game. It’s good practice for sharpening your eyes, teaching you how to be observant and track wounded game should the need arise.
After scouring the hunting field and reassured they are game free, we head back home. It was a good day as we have filled our “bag limit” and both dogs are anxious to get inside and nap the rest of the morning away by the fireplace.

trash can

As we approach the deck steps to the backdoor, I deposit our game in the small trashcan, lined with a plastic bag. After the morning hunt, I enjoy sipping more coffee and making a big breakfast.

I put my 12″ Griswold cast iron skillet on the stove, add some olive oil and a large slab of hickory-smoked bacon. As it starts to spit, sputter and sizzle, I twirl it around the skillet with a fork, the way Grandma would. When it’s just right, I lift the fried strips from the hot grease and drain them on a paper towel. I then crack three eggs into the hot skillet and put some wheat bread in the toaster, timing everything so it will all be ready at the same time.

It’s a great morning! My wife comes downstairs, awakened by the mixed aroma of coffee along with the bacon and egg breakfast I just made.

“How was the hunt?” she asks me between sips of coffee, as the dogs are now lying at our feet, waiting, hoping for something to fall.
“Great” I smile back at her, “We got our limit.”

This is about as good as it gets. A morning hunt, cozy, homemade breakfast, faithful dogs lying nearby, sharing in the after-glow with my wife, something right out of the Saturday Evening Post and a Norman Rockwell painting.

While chewing some bacon, my wife looks deeply into my eyes, saying, “When are you gonna empty that trashcan full of [email protected]*? It’s really starting to smell!”

Well, just goes to show ya, some hunts are better than others. It’s all in how you look at things. With a little imagination, even the mundane can become spectacular. Love your dogs — and put some excitement back in “the hunt.”

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And keep the trash can empty …