On that particular day, we hunted the home quarter. More of an appeasement walk for a pent-up dog than anything else, but the gun and the game bag came along, in the off chance we came across any grouse. We walked the forest section without any sign of birds and then cut out to the field on the return. The field being a less demanding route, so we’d be home in time to catch the hockey game.
As we walked back along the fenceline, the dog stiffened, her nose working the ground with purpose. An odd sight. It was no place for ruffed grouse and I hadn’t seen a sharpie here in years.
Unbeknownst to me, some misguided and enterprising soul had begun a “put and shoot” pheasant preserve, up here in the north. A place mostly inhospitable to and completely devoid of pheasants.
Unbeknownst to the pheasant, the place he’d managed to escape to, the one that looked so enticing, with its long grass, scrub brush and cover to hide him from the cold and coyotes – that specific place was inhabited by a bird dog in need of some outside time.
Imagine our collective surprise – the bird’s, the dog’s and mine – when the dog charged into the long grass, flushing out a brightly colored rooster.
The rest played out the way we like it to. A downed bird. A gentle retrieve. All smiles (mine) and tail wags(hers).
While cleaning the bird, I noticed a band with an engraved phone number on his ankle. A quick phone call filled in the blanks on how exactly we’d came to encounter each other on that particular day.