Monday, December 7, 2009

Today's Installment of Questionable Logic

"A toll's a toll, and a roll's a roll.
And if we don't get no tolls, then we don't eat no rolls. "

Translation: nothing worthwhile comes easy. Or, you reap what you sow. Or, you get what you pay for. There's probably a dozen adages that aim to teach what some refuse to accept as truth. I wonder what bird hunting would be like if shooting a limit was a foregone conclusion? Not very fun, I suspect.

Unlike most--who get their start with their fathers and grandfathers--I started hunting later in life. In-state tuition and an esteemed college of engineering pulled me to the middle-of-nowhere Kansas State University. I was a product of suburbia and, since there were no wild trout nearby, I spent the first few years chasing girls and drinking beer, usually in that order. Naturally, I met a lot of kids from rural Kansas (K-State is historically an aggie school) and was taken on a bird hunt or two.

Like all bird hunters I vividly remember the first bird I "earned." That inaugural season I borrowed shotguns here and there and hunted a lot by myself--and none of us had dogs. We didn't know to pick up a WIHA atlas, so we just hunted the same piece over and over again: a quarter section of CRP bordered by a grain field. We saw lots of roosts, but after many hunts we still hadn't seen a pheasant. We're talking many trying hours stumbling aimlessly through the CRP (sometimes slogging through snow or rain), looking down for sign, pausing to listen, doing anything we/I could to stack odds in our/my favor.

One blistery January evening I was alone walking the edge against the grain field with a borrowed Remington 870 Express. The sun was just dropping below the cloud cover on the horizon when I paused to listen. Just then a rooster exploded right in front of me and made a hard maneuver to the left. The trigger pull sent a bright flame out of the barrel and the dragon's fire anchored my bird in the grass. That evening I broke our house mom's rules by bringing the bird into the kitchen to pose for a picture, like it was some sort of trophy deer or gobbler. Well, it was a trophy to me, and a significant emotional experience. I've since killed many more pheasants, but none came after as much effort as that first bird, and no bird has given me a bigger smile (dogs are another matter). The successes after small failures stoke the fire to drive longer and walk further. If ever this thing I do becomes easy, and I don't think it ever will, I'll get bored and move on. After all, nothing worthwhile comes easy.


Mike Spies said...


All logic is questionable. We derive Truth by our own experience. The lesson is... "Go outside and play." We all pay our dues and reap the rewards of a life outdoors.

I like the photos on your blog. Post more, OK?

Jon Uhart said...

It's tough sometimes to put down the gun and snap some pictures...Will be doing plenty of hunting over the next couple weeks so should have plenty of opportunities. Isn't time for you to go chase some chukar or something? Kansas guys like seeing pictures of hills and mountains... :)