Thursday, October 5, 2017

Upland

Yesterday morning I walked along the goldenrod laced paths near Carter Pond, shotgun in hand and the sun on my face. I was on a hillside, overlooking a rolling herd of fields stocked with game and alive with stories of past hunts.

My friend was ahead of me and her dog, Harley (a Large Munsterlander) romped past us. He swerved and dove like a porpoise all around, his bell ringing to let us know where he was and when he was stopped to point. Since forced ambush is the name of the game we weren't too worried about being quiet and shared conversation as we rambled. All of this, lovely.

As a farmer who hunts, I have that padded mental insurance of a stocked larder at home. I know the day's calories aren't depending on the luck of the day. This makes most hunts the same as most trips to the river to fly fish; a beautiful excuse to be out in nature as a participant and not just an observer. It wakes up something in my bones that rattles me in the best way possible. To stalk, to seek prey, to feed myself a bit with luck and effort instead of a garden, livestock, or debit card. To know something older and before - that is grand participation.

Harley was on the scent of pheasants and it was a glorious morning for upland hunting. Small game has been on my mind - between falconry season and rabbit hunts with Aya and now heading into the field after the birds — recipes were swirling around my head like the fallen leaves we kicked up along the trail. I knew within the hour I'd be home from this early-morning hunt and working at the computer instead of absorbing vitamin D. I did my best to savor it. If I had all my to-do list checked off I would make time to fly Aya after dinner.

Which is what I did. I worked inside all day and headed back out to hunt again, this time with talons instead of bullets. I prefer it. The warm October sun on her feathers and my neck, the hope of a sunset rabbit leaping from the brush I hit with my walking stick. It was a beautiful day. A day of animals and their work beside me. A day of farm and wilderness. A day of outside and indoors. A day to explain why I try so damn hard to stay in this life.

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