Bringing ’em Along

Since I have spent my life chasing guns and critters—as well as cultivating the notion of being a professional ne’er-do-wells—I never took the time to raise a family. Hence, I have no grandkids. Now that I am a certifiable old fuddy duddy, with all of the changes that brings along with it, I find that my latent grandpa genes are flourishing. Because I have no grandkids, I must get my grandpa fix through others. Last Friday afternoon I got a major fix.

Tom Walker runs the irrigation district around here, and since he takes his responsibilities seriously—both professional as well as family—his exposure to hunting has been peripheral. His 13-year-old-son Coleman is just beginning his hunting career. Earlier this summer I introduced Tom to the breeder of my English setter, Lily, and Tom got a pup from the same sire and dam. The stocky male, Willie, is just as new to hunting.

The father-son pair had been out several times looking for pheasants but had absolutely no luck. Tom called me a couple of days ago and asked me to help Coleman get his first bird. To be honest and in the interest of full disclosure, the ne’er-do-wells in me instantly realized opportunity was at hand. In his position with the irrigation district Tom knows every single farmer in the area. I was grateful, not only for the opportunity to play grandpa for an afternoon, but to also expand my repertoire of hunting properties.

We met late Friday afternoon once Coleman got out of school and went to work on a ditch between two fields that Tom and Coleman had tried previously to no avail. We put Lily and Willie down, along with Tom’s dysplastic chocolate Lab, Penny. Coleman and I took the north side of the ditch, while Tom worked the south side. The dogs started to work after the normal ritual of sniffing each other from head to tail in order to establish their new-found relationship. Lily likes to lead the charge and get way out in front, but after a few whistles and a gentle buzz of Thomas Edison she got to work within the range of her doddering old man. Willie instantly demonstrated his genetic blessings and worked the heavy weeds like he’d been doing it for years. Penny, despite the cruel genetic curse of dysplasia, gave her all as much as she could.

The hunt went in textbook fashion. We walked about a quarter mile until there was a bunch of Russian olives serving as a natural barrier. One rooster got up about 75 yards before the Russian olives, and I—of course—missed it. As Coleman and I approached the Russian olives, Tom ventured out into the harvested sunflower field to see if he could pick up the bird I missed. I told Coleman to halt at the trees. Within 20 seconds rosters began erupting as if shot in sequence from a mortar. Again, I missed the first one but nailed the second. As my bird did a face plant another rooster launched, and Coleman flattened him with his first shot at game. We got some quick picstures of Coleman with his first rooster—the one you see here has Willie on the left and Lily on the right.

That evening I was a warm and happy man. Rolling over the afternoon’s events brought back memories of my first game bird decades ago. That night we had another hunter in our midst, and I had a small part in it. I am blessed.

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4 Responses to Bringing ’em Along

steven b wrote:
December 07, 2012

great story dave, 5 stars for your effort in helping out a new hunter. there is nothing greater than seeing that ear to ear smile on a young hunter after bagging his first rooster. good luck to coleman for many more birds in the bag.

Don V wrote:
November 21, 2012

Nice Dave. Gave the boy a wonderful memory. And you. Phesant fot Thanksgiving?

Kim Beaty wrote:
November 20, 2012

What a wonderful experience for both father, son, and "grandpa!" WTG Coleman, congrats on your first rooster!

Brenda Valentine wrote:
November 20, 2012

I enjoyed the story. Thanks for the link. The world needs more old fuddy duddy foster grandpa's.