It’s rare in life to be embraced warmly by the unexpected, or at least in my life it’s been rare. Now that we’re “old people,” I think I’m more attuned to the expectation that things shouldn’t change very dramatically, but this seems dramatic somehow. It’s not so much that I’m thrilled my wife is hunting, but more that she’s not stopping at wonder. Or maybe it’s that she’s reconnecting with the curiosity that tends to get drubbed out of us the older we get, starting back in middle school. So to me in a sense it’s uncanny what she’s doing. I like uncanny.
Our first three weekends of chukar season have been excellent in many ways. We’ve hunted lots of new ground, found more birds than expected, had great weather, enjoyed textbook dog work (with a couple excusable exceptions), bagged a lot of birds, and welcomed a new hunter into our family. I guess the reason I haven’t written much yet about this season is that I’ve just been enjoying it.
Ruminating on Leslie taking up the gun (and losing the video) has been the biggest change for me this season. It’s wholly positive, and the thought process goes something like this: I can’t believe my wife, at 55 years of age, who worries about cows and feral cats being cold in the winter, has taken up the gun, and has killed some birds, and is more motivated each time we head out.
Our last two hunts together remind me of Khalil Gibran’s oft-quoted wish (usually at weddings), “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.” It’s interesting to think about this, since yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the date I proposed to her, and it was on a mountain-top in Idaho, not far from where we hunted. Anyway, we had split up early in the hunt, she taking Angus and Peat accompanying me. She’s got a decade of following me with a camera rather than following a dog with a gun, so she’s learning the difference. After the hunts, she fills me in on the action she had, describing her spaces and how the dancing winds from the heavens shaped her experience. The places we’ve hunted have been blessed with more chukar than I expected, and Angus still has it, so she’s had a good number of opportunities on solid points from the old warrior. She hasn’t connected yet, but I’m sure it’ll happen soon.
For me, I’m enjoying the action, and being able to hunt with Peat while Leslie’s off with Angus. While his nose is terrific, it’s not as dialed in yet as I’m sure it will get. He’s muddled a few coveys he should have smelled and pointed, but he’s also nailed some classic, thrilling points. My shooting still hasn’t improved much, but seems to be getting better; I’ve never practiced nearly as much as I have this year, mostly thanks to Leslie wanting to work on her shooting. She outshot me at trap last weekend.
As for the video, I miss making them and having the footage to work with. I’m not sure what to do about that. Once Leslie starts nailing the birds, I might leave my gun at home occasionally. Who knows. Maybe if I was to sell all my Chukar Culture hats and t-shirts I could hire a videographer to come along. Ha ha.