Monday, November 10, 2008

Part VIII: Goodbye, thank you, see you next year

The last hunt was bittersweet to say the least. We were slow to get out of bed, dehydrated and with headaches; I'll let you guess why. The morning was cool, not cold, and a bit humid. Having a fullsize pickup and a dog trailer made navigating the mountain roads a bit tricky, especially when we discovered the BMA sign-in wasn't where it was supposed to be. At least we got to see some more beautiful country before we could make a safe turnaround.

We decided to hunt a large patch of grass laying on the top of a plateau. The edges gave way to rimrock, and the hills were straight and steep as the descended to the surrounding pasture ground. I'm not sure if it was the proper rotation or not, but Sage and Dottie were put down for our last hunt in Montana. I think we were both anticipating sharptails, as we had plenty of success on them, and wanted to end our trip on a high note. We hunted along the two track following the edge of the field.

It wasn't long before the Astro chirped, and we perceived Sage on point ahead of us.

The point yielded no birds, and Sage hunted further into the field as we walked tired, lazily, and content regardless of the outcome. It wasn't long before I heard the familiar chirped again, indicating Sage on point 150 yards to our flank in the field. I used the device to get a bearing on his direction, and I started my approach towards him, anticipating a premature flush of sharptails already weary from hunting pressure. I saw Sage and knew he had birds. As I approached a covey of huns flushed tightly together, shrieking as they accelerated away from the danger. They were within ethical gun range for a 20, but they were so tight that I made the snap decision not to shoot, as it would have felt like flock shooting. I knew we could pick them up again, maybe from a different angle, and both of us could get clean shots. The birds flew towards the rimrock, and we lost view because of the crest of the hill as the edge falls off. We both thought they sat down right on the edge, and with the topographical boundary, that they'd have nowhere to run. We crossed a barbed wire fence as quietly as we could, and kept the dogs close. We walked all the way to the edge, and no birds. Then, Sage when on point again right at the edge.

I crept to the edge, fearful of the rock giving way, and peered over the dropoff. Then I noticed a porkie in the rocks below me; Sage must have been smelling him. We worked the area over again, and now Dottie pointed.

Just the porkie, again. We worked around the edge some more, and paused to take some pictures.

We hunted a little more and managed to put up one sharptail with no shots fired. I was pleased, nonetheless. Looking back, I'm not sure if I'll ever get to do something like this again, at least not until after I retire. Ten days away from home and work is tough to leverage. But there's always hope. Next time, I only have one wish: better weather.

Goodbye Montana. Thank you.

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