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Benediction for Another Season
Unread 02-11-2019, 02:12 PM   #1
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Default Benediction for Another Season

I've enjoyed reading of other members' season ending hunts, and I'm glad that for at least some, the red gods cooperated to give them a last memorable day. For us the weather again played a starring role in our season's end.

After we missed the end of our Missouri and Iowa seasons because of bad weather, and after the temperatures reached minus 16, we packed up and headed to Oklahoma for our annual trip a week earlier than planned. We tried a new-to-us area in southern OK that reminded me of long gone days hunting paper company lands in my home state of Virginia. Although we were in a constant light drizzle with too-warm temperatures of 60 degrees, it was nice not to be worried about crusted over snowdrifts and numbing wind chills. Hunting a new area is as much about hunting for the right places to hunt as it is hunting birds, and we spent most of our time figuring things out. Although we did not see any wild hogs, other than the skeleton of a dead one, their sign was everywhere, and there were times I thought we were hunting in a hog lot. I broke out the .357 magnum and carried it, but fortunately, we never saw a hog. We did manage to find birds, and will likely go back to this new and interesting cover.

After a few days of exploring in the south, we headed back to our old haunts further north. Our first day's hunt was in freezing drizzle, but we found birds and the dogs enjoyed themselves in the cooler conditions. It stormed that night and rained hard...and then froze hard. It took us well over an hour to get the topper opened up so we could let the dogs out the next morning as there was about a half inch of ice over our truck. The hard surfaced roads were like skating rinks, so we had to sit out a day and a half, the dogs going stir crazy. Temperatures hit 6 degrees the next morning -- deja vu all over again.

We finally did get out and were able to hunt an afternoon in an odd mix of slick, frozen ice and equally slick and sloppy mud. We found no birds, but felt fortunate to get out at all. We headed back home between ice storms and are now iced in again at home, mourning the end of another season that started on September 1 with a dove hunt (that ironically was interrupted by a severe thunder storm). I went back to check my shooting journal so that I could remember the string of glorious weather days in mid- and late December -- always nice to remember the good and not dwell on the bad.

The weather does indeed giveth, and most certainly it taketh away, but in the end it is a part of the hunt as much as the birds, the guns and the dogs. I wished for a couple of nice weather days to remember over the off season, but we take what we get and make the most of it.

In the end, it was a good season -- one of several firsts. I inaugurated five new-to-me guns -- three Parkers, and Ithaca, and a Dickson round action. The first shots fired from each gun found their marks, a kind of luck I generally do not enjoy with my mediocre shooting skills (especially with guns of different shooting dimensions). Even better than my luck shooting was being able to take a grouse over our puppy's first point. A tail feather from Aspen's first bird is now ensconced in my journal joining those of 9 other Gordons who are and have been part of our family over the years.

It seems that even as time moves faster the older I get, Septembers seem further away when viewed from season's end. I also know that I'm guaranteed no future seasons. But I still look forward to the next one.

Key to the photos:

1. With thousands of acres of cutover land planted to pine, a hunter could walk for many days here. Even though the paper company practices slash and burn to prepare for the next generation of loblolly pine, the walking was tough and the cover extensive. Bird numbers were reported to be down, but there's always a learning curve when hunting new cover.

2. The birds we found in this new area were uniquely reddish in color, and smaller than our North Missouri Bobs. They also liked to dodge between head high pines to make the shooting extremely "sporting." The gun here is my "new" 1918 DHE 20 gauge. For me, it's a magic wand for quail, and I shoot it better than I have any other gun I've owned, even ones that were made with custom stock measurements. When I first started shooting this gun earlier this season, I went on a 17 for 17 streak, all on wild quail. I generally shoot about 60-65% on quail, so I had a hard time putting this gun away to shoot anything else. The gentleman that ordered this gun during that far off War year, a Kentucky field trialer from what I've learned, is a kindred spirit.

3. Wild hog sign was everywhere. The tusks on this smaller one we found would still be nasty in an encounter with a hunting dog.

4. Our last day was a hunt in thawing temperatures and (finally!) some sun, but with both ice and mud. The trees and grass were like crystals catching sunlight, but the dirt roads were covered with an inch or more of ice.

5. The benediction to our season -- a sunset to remember.
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Unread 02-11-2019, 05:45 PM   #2
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Nicely written Garry. A fine recap of your 6-month season.





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Unread 02-11-2019, 05:57 PM   #3
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Yes another fine report. Your love for the uplands is obvious and most of us here join you in those feelings. It is very bitter sweet for me when I read your hunting adventures as well as others such as Shawn and Bruce. I have spent many days afield chasing southern wild quail. The birds just aren't here any longer and I mourn that loss.
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Unread 02-11-2019, 07:32 PM   #4
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follow ya lls posts with much interest...i have not hunted wild quail for many years ....but do remember it well thanks fellows for the hunts...charlie
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Unread 02-11-2019, 09:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garry L Gordon View Post
It seems that even as time moves faster the older I get, Septembers seem further away when viewed from season's end. I also know that I'm guaranteed no future seasons. But I still look forward to the next one.
Amen!

-Victor
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Unread 02-12-2019, 01:02 PM   #6
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Garry, a great write. Thanks.

We put up a lot of birds , about a covey every 30 minutes. Iím sorry you did not find more. Those that we found were very tough and fast targets. I would not doubt they were at 40 to 50 yards in 2 seconds and they jinked also. Last time I am convinced that one purposefully jinked away from an incoming shot just like they avoid a diving falcon.

I think the quail you showed is just a late hatch male bobwhite .I donít think itís one of those southern red quail.
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Unread 02-12-2019, 04:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Day View Post
Garry, a great write. Thanks.

We put up a lot of birds , about a covey every 30 minutes. Iím sorry you did not find more. Those that we found were very tough and fast targets. I would not doubt they were at 40 to 50 yards in 2 seconds and they jinked also. Last time I am convinced that one purposefully jinked away from an incoming shot just like they avoid a diving falcon.

I think the quail you showed is just a late hatch male bobwhite .I donít think itís one of those southern red quail.
Bruce,

I'm sure you were in an area with more birds than where we hunt in northeastern OK (and, for the first time, SE OK). But, it sure looks like we had similar weather. We quit hunting the Beaver area because our dogs just don't like boots, and the sand burrs were too much for them. Have you ever hunted the Tall Timbers area of OK? It'a all slash and burn loblolly pine plantations, but there are quail in the areas that have been harvested. You are probably correct about the coloration of the quail, but we have found slight variances in color based on location in our travels. The birds we shot in southern OK were markedly smaller than our North Missouri quail. Growing up in Virginia, I was amazed at how much larger on average our Iowa and Missouri quail are than the ones we took in Virginia, but, hey, that was many years ago and we all know what memory does to facts.

I guess we are all waiting for turkey season. Our weather has been so bad here in North Missouri and Southern Iowa that I'm sure we'll lose breeding stock for our quail. I just hope Spring is really Spring. The birds deserve it.

I'm sorry we'll be in SC during the Pheasant Fest. I hope to be able to help you man the Parker table at one of these events in the future.
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Unread 02-12-2019, 05:59 PM   #8
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Garry...I love it! Love the History of your 1918 Parker...it's such a joy to carry an old smooth bore in the field. Almost indescribable. Nothing quite compares!
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Unread 02-12-2019, 06:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Wayment View Post
Garry...I love it! Love the History of your 1918 Parker...it's such a joy to carry an old smooth bore in the field. Almost indescribable. Nothing quite compares!
Shawn, You are so right! -- Old gun, the old blood line of our dogs, the age old bird...and yes, an old guy chasing around with that old gun and loving every second of it.
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Unread 02-12-2019, 09:23 PM   #10
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Gary, I really enjoyed your season. I wish you would write it up and possibly expand it for a PP article. It will make great reading and I know Dean will be glad to get it. Thanks for your account.
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