The life of a freelance outdoor writer is not one of glamour. The hours are terrible. Pay is inconsistent. And when you aren't chained to your keyboard, you're busy reminding editors that you think they're super smart.
However, you're also your own boss. You can live where you want, work when you want and, best of all, hunt when you want.
And so last Friday afternoon, as a cold front rolled into central Pennsylvania, I made a spur of the moment decision to go dove hunting. Not much was flying lately, but I figured the weather change may trigger some activity, and a bad day afield always trumps a good day in the office. Or so they say.
My springer, Freedom, and I set forth into the state land, the cool breeze putting us both in a good mood—Fall has arrived. Beyond a brushy hedgerow lay a stand of corn about 40 yards in breadth. It's been a decent spot to pick off doves as they rocket in for a meal.
Unfortunately as I round the bend I discover that the corn was harvested the day prior and replaced by a layer of manure—Freedom's favorite, especially on days such as this when he's freshly bathed. He completely disregards my exasperated shouts and charges off into the manure, perhaps intending to put some distance between us for his next act: rolling around in the manure with a great deal of enthusiasm.
After Freedom and I have a "discussion" about his behavior, I set up my hunting chair and hunker into some cover. There is still plenty of corn scattered in the field and, despite my smelly mutt, I hope for a few shots. Freedom is beside himself. He's upset about his talking to and tries to nestle against my leg. This doesn't achieve the result he's looking for.
By now he's covered in flies—I mean covered—and he makes several attempts to catch them as they buzz about his head. I ask him whether he's ever met a more disgusting dog, but he doesn't answer.
My refusal to pet him only increases his guilt, leading him to seek solace beneath my chair. In doing so, he causes the swarm of flies to hover all around me. They buzz my ears. They land annoyingly on my arms and my shotgun.
And after an hour of enduring this stinky, dove-free, fly-infested hell, I can't take it anymore. I leash my filthy dog and head for the truck. After my shotgun is unloaded, a few doves fly over, no doubt taunting us. As we reach the vehicle, I realize I picked a bad day to allow Freedom to ride uncrated on the front seat. A week later, my truck still smells like a cow pasture.
So, sure, a bad day of hunting is usually better than a good day at work. But not always.