Before I was old enough to hunt big game, I couldn’t wait to get out there and chase elk, deer and antelope around. Back then, you had to be 14 years old to hunt big game. I could hunt birds, but I didn’t appreciate bird hunting as much as I should have. Instead of savoring those hunts to their full effect, I spent far too much of my time on those hunts wishing I were packing a rifle and going after a big bull elk.
But now that I’m older – much older – I find myself much more excited for bird season than big game. There are several reasons for that. One reason is that it’s something I can do even if I don’t have a lot of time. I know of several places to go try to find grouse or pheasants, and others for waterfowl, within a few minutes of my house. Even if I don’t kick up any upland birds or get any ducks or geese to come into my dekes, it’s great to just be outside.
I grudgingly admit that as I get older, a bird hunt is more my speed. I still enjoy the rigor of an elk hunt, but bird hunting is even more pleasant. And even more so when you think about packing out your quarry.
But the biggest reason I’ve become more of a bird hunter than a big game hunter is the dog. I just love watching the dog work, and it just makes me happy to see her bounding around the prairie or swimming out to retrieve a duck. I can tell she’s happiest when she’s hunting, and that makes me happy.
Riley’s my second real bird dog, and she’s sure to be a whole lot different than Cricket. This will be our first hunting season, so we’ll see how it goes. But even if she’s not the hunter Cricket was, I’m sure she’ll be just as good a hunting buddy. I just wish I didn’t have to wait two more weeks to get started.