A Tradition Begins

As we all know bird hunting is steeped in tradition. Whether it is the breed of dog that you choose, whose lines go back over a hundred years or it is the land that you hunt on being passed through generations of a family. Maybe it is even the gun that you shoot belonged to your grandfather, was used by your father when he was a boy and now it is the gun that you carry behind the setter that has been a favorite breed in your family for years.

 So with this going through my head I think about a hunt that was done this season recently with both my kids being home for the holidays from school. This hunt was conducted at Oak Hill Shooting Preserve.

 To give a background on how this came about I ask that you put up with me while I walk down memory lane for a little bit.

 I introduced my daughter to hunting about ten years ago. We went to the range and she got used to the gun that she was going to use. We then went to a friends farm and put out some birds and had a fun day of it. From then on she went on a father daughter hunt we did with some friends. Then she discovered her love of music and that took the place of hunting because of the amount of dedication that it takes to be a good musician.

 I introduced my son about seven years ago to hunting. We started with the skeet range and he picked that up quickly and it became a weekly activity for the next six years, until he went off to school. He had it a little harder in his coming up in the hunting ranks. My friend stopped raising birds because of health reasons and so we had to do more wild bird hunting and a few youth hunts with our local Quail Forever Chapter.

 One story that comes to mind is we were hunting a pine meadow and our Shorthair is covering the ground nicely and hits a dip in the terrain and tumbles head over tail. He stands up and looks around like he was saying nobody saw that. We had a good laugh. So we continue to hunt. The dog goes on point after about an hour. This is the first time that my son is seeing a wild covey, so he is pretty alert. The dog relocates and traps the covey between us. As we move up the ground looks as if it is boiling and the covey erupts . Two shots later the covey escapes and we had a good laugh and talk about how exciting it was.

 This all takes us to where we are today. A Facebook memory pops up on the computer and my wife sends the picture to my daughter. In a text she says we should do that again. I chime in and say it can be arranged when she is home. I get a yes and I of course run with it and call my friend Dickie at Oak Hill Shooting Preserve and set it up for the weekend of the New Year holiday.

 So the morning of the hunt comes and we travel for the first time ever as a complete family to go hunting. Me, my wife and the kids. We load up our setter and head out on the road. As we approach Oak Hill the white walls and the gate welcome us to the preserve. We pull in and meet the staff and they set us up on the field where the birds are put out while we get our gear ready for the hunt.

As we start the hunt we turn up from the road into the field. The dog doesn’t start as fast as usual, but he gets into it after his first contact. The first point goes to my son.

My daughter to his left and me to the rear so I can watch this all unfold and put it to memory of something that I have wanted to witness for a long time, my entire family in the field. The bird is flushed and it escapes, not do to a lack of effort but some strategic escape route.

 After this contact the dog is fired up and starts to hunt like I know he can. So he crosses the field and goes on point again. This time he is in front of my daughter. Now a little sidebar, my dog gets spoiled by my daughter, despite the advice of Dez Young. So when this point happens he stands a little taller and he holds better than usual. Definitely showing off for her a little bit.

So she moves in and flushes the bird. Takes a shot and it escapes both her and I. This bird does not go far and we get another shot at it and this time it goes in the bag.

 We continue to hunt for about another hour we go in the woods and pond side and have some nice points a few more shots and a couple of birds in the bags. To include one that my son shot and the bird crashed into a tree on its way down.That was pretty funny to watch unfold.

 After this hour and it is kind of warm on this day we go to the truck and take a break and let the dog go in a barrel of water During this time the staff is putting out a couple of pheasants for us to try our luck on.

 The pheasants are out and the dog and hunters are rested so we set out again to see if we can make the connection and put these birds in our bags.The dog steps it out and slams on a point. It has been a few years since he has smelled a pheasant and this time he seems pretty enthused about it. So he holds pretty tight and my son moves in for the flush. The rooster flushes and it gets hit by one of the two barrels. The bird flies another few yards comes down and the dog has to run it down. He retrieves it to me and to say that I am pretty happy does not do my feelings any justice. I am pretty ecstatic with the way the day is going and the company that I am in.

After the retrieve the dog and we hunters set out after the next pheasant. This time we head in the wrong direction for a little bit and then circle back around. The dogs locates where the next bird is hiding and this time it is my daughter that gets to flush the bird. The bird gets rousted from its hiding place and flushes straight up in my daughters face, she lets out a shriek and I have to take the shot to bring the bird down. It wasn’t hit hard enough to kill it but the dog was on it and after a brief game of roadrunner and coyote the dog gets the bird and brings it back. The bird is still alive and the amount of feathers that come out of my poor dogs mouth is unbelievable. It looks like a Hawk kill site after I get done getting the feathers out of his mouth. I don’t know how he didn’t choke on all of them.

With this retrieve we head back to the truck and call it a day. We water the dog and put up the guns and talk to our host before heading out.

 After this hunt we talk about this being something that we should try to do every year and start a new tradition for us to hunt some birds every year over the holidays. So with the long list of  traditions of the uplands it seems that we are now going to add our own to that list and that sounds good to me.

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