CPS Hunting Tales

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CPS Hunting Tales

Post by hugodrax » Wed Dec 07, 2016 12:04 pm

I struggled a bit with where to put this. As Durango pipe intimated, I thought of the Testimonies forum: anybody that's seen the light of manic joy in a dog's eye bounding through the brush with a torn ear and a dead bird in her mouth knows that the world is fundamentally good and that a bubbling wellspring of nameless joy exists for those who seek it.

I also struggled with my capacity to write anything worthwhile. Most of my own experiences are lost in the mist of time and consist of a particular image, often the way the light settled on the surrounding terrain or the ineffable beauty of a downed bird's closed eyelid or a dog making eye contact--almost always something that can't be described. How do you describe the smell of innards being drawn or illustrate the last leap of the rabbit before he bought it? Now there's something I haven't thought of in years--beagling for rabbits.

Never much got into western PA deer hunting. The boyos here just get drunk and sit in a stand until they whack a deer or fall out. Not like the stalking we did as a kid. Different strokes. But a real high probability of getting shot yourself.

So this is a long winded way of asking for your tales. The one that got away, the Boone and Crockett that didnt, the dead grouse, the broken shotgun, or that time you left the safety on. And don't tell me you haven't left the safety on. If that's the case, you never put it on to begin with and I don't like you.
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by Thunktank » Wed Dec 07, 2016 2:59 pm

I can't even write a sentence coherently and you want a tale?

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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by Sir Moose » Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:03 pm

I'll bite to try and get things started. I had three 'got away' stories, all on my first ever hunting trip.

First: the last day of turkey season was the day before deer season started, which also happened to be our travel day. I seriously considered getting a turkey tag, but based on the fact that we were arriving in the late afternoon and I wouldn't have time to actually do much, I didn't get it. As we were pulling into the area of our campsite, there was a flock of about 8 turkeys standing right on the edge of the road. They were close enough that I probably would have had to shoo them away from the road a bit to make them legal. Missed opportunity number one.

Second: We kept hitting the same trail in the morning and bumping a few deer that would take off over the nearby ridge and down into a tangled mess of forest. Finally on the third or fourth day, a cold, damp morning, we found them without them running. I was literally about ten yards from a decent-sized 2x3 buck quartering toward me. I raised the rifle and when the scope reached my eye, my glasses fogged up - badly. I couldn't find my scope through the fog, let alone the deer. After a few seconds of frustration, they guy I was hunting with figured out that I wasn't pulling the trigger and he hit it from the front (right in the chest) with his shotgun and it dropped like a rock. Missed opportunity number two.

Third: On the last day of our trip, a thoroughly miserable, rainy day, we tried a new trail. About an hour in we found a nice deer munching on some bushes about fifteen yards off the side of the road. I shouldered my rifle and began trying to verify that I was looking at a buck rather than a doe. There just happened to be a nice tangle of branches between that deer and me so I couldn't see anything above its eyes. It stared at me. It stamped a bit. It huffed a bit. I was 98% certain it was a buck. I couldn't see the top of it's head. That 2% uncertainty kept me from pulling the trigger. After about 20 seconds, it took off running. I never did get a clear look at whether or not there were antlers on that thing. I'm pretty sure there were, but I just couldn't find them. Missed opportunity number three.
Last edited by Sir Moose on Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by serapion » Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:04 pm

Never been hunting.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by durangopipe » Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:18 pm

Whoo boy, is this dangerous!
You all know I'm an outdoor writer, don'tcha?

That doesn't mean I know any more than anyone else, or that I write any better . . .
It just means once I get started, you can't shut me up!

I have to leave in a few minutes for our end-of-term student writing celebration, but I'll try to get something up later or this weekend

Looking forward to hearing everyone's stories.

Great stories, Moose!
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by UncleBob » Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:26 pm

There I was. In the Congo. I had everything I needed: 4 Wham-o Air Blasters, 18" of twine, and 12 cases of Diet Coke. I was tasked, along with Cpl. Alistair J. Smythe, to track the Jerries across the sandy dunes...
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by Thunktank » Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:32 pm

I'll write a tale Sunday about the hunt I'm taking this Saturday. I'll do my best and even make sure it's written properly. :chili:

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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by JimVH » Wed Dec 07, 2016 3:43 pm

I was 12 and on my first white wing dove hunt (maybe my first bird hunt of any kind) in south Texas with my dad an some of his work folks. I was so excited I shot the first thing to fly near me. It fell right into the middle of a bunch of thick brush. I searched and searched and couldn't find it. Everyone insisted I had downed a blackbird, but my pride convinced me it was a dove and I kept looking for quite some time before giving-up. When we got back to camp, the wife of one of my dad's coworkers showed me a dead dove and told me she found it in the field on the way in and was sure it was mine. I lit-up like a Christmas tree. I was nearly an adult before I realized the truth and she was just salvaging my pride. It was the best participation ribbon I ever got.

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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by FredS » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:26 pm

In October of the first year my hunting and fishing buddy neighbor (Brian) and I bow hunted deer I shot a doe in the evening. We tracked her well after dark until we simply lost her trail. We got home about midnight. Mrs FredS figured I just made up the story to get out of going to a Halloween costume party that night. I didn't sleep well and woke early the next morning and decided to drive back to the hunting grounds (a little over an hour from home). I noticed my buddies truck wasn't in the driveway but I didn't pay it much attention. I got to our hunting spot just after sunrise. Brian's truck was there, but he wasn't. I figured he was on his stand. I finished my cup of coffee and set out to find the doe. Tracked blood 'round and about for close to a mile. As I neared the bottom of a valley, I heard someone clear their throat. I looked down and there was Brian and his son, standing over my deer. This was before we had cell phones and they were about 15 minutes ahead of me the whole time but neither of us realized it.

That pretty much cemented the bond between Brian and I. We were both bummed about losing the animal and he went out on his own on a very cold morning to find it. A few years later, after I returned from a days fishing with Brian, my wife asked how he and his family were. I shrugged and said "I dunno. OK I guess." She said "You guess? You guys were together all day, didn't you talk?!" I said "Well. . .no. . .not really."
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by hugodrax » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:22 pm

UncleBob wrote:There I was. In the Congo. I had everything I needed: 4 Wham-o Air Blasters, 18" of twine, and 12 cases of Diet Coke. I was tasked, along with Cpl. Alistair J. Smythe, to track the Jerries across the sandy dunes...
If you didn't have your trusty native bearer, 'Mlongi (the click is pronounced, sir), then you just weren't as prepared as you think you were. :chili:
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by hugodrax » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:25 pm

Thunktank wrote:I'll write a tale Sunday about the hunt I'm taking this Saturday. I'll do my best and even make sure it's written properly. :chili:
Did you know Churchill was also a clutterer? It has nothing to do with being "less than." Write it up--I can't wait to read it!
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by Hovannes » Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:12 am

Does man tracking with a horse instead of shotgunning with a setter count?

I was on a Sheriff's mounted SAR posse in the Sierra for 20 years.
The early hours of monday was when the Sheriff would often call out the posse after a hiker, hunter, fisherman, rock hound etc...would fail to return home on Sunday.
At the time I had a new posse horse I'd started and trained from a weanling (that's three years of training!) I was happy with the way this one turned out.

The subject of our search was a young sailor who was home on leave and reported by is parents as missing after not returning from a hike.
I was often partnered with my pal Jim, a genuine cowboy with a lot of seniority on the sheriff's posse and a good guy if ever there was. The first team sent out, the Hasty team, found little so the terrain was divided up and Jim and I were given a north facing mountainside overlooking the lake near the resort area where the missing sailor lived, so we saddled up and studied the roadside that skirted the lake---basically a sand trap---for sign. We searched the gently rising forested terrain traveling in grid looking for clues (the sailor was partial to certain brand of candy bar) It looked like our grid search wouldn't turn up anything of interest which is OK in the SAR world With the limited resource of two deputies, Jim and I would omit a sizeable piece of terrain from the search area, allowing the other search parties to focus on areas having greater potential.
Eventually Jim and I ran out of gentle terrain and were confronted with a thinly disguised rock face of the mountainside thickly covered with chaparral and manzanita.
At this point we dismounted and would climb as high as we could on foot (no small task when wearing riding boots) When the cavalry morphs into infantry, there are a few options.
We could turn our horses over to another deputy to hold (not an option since there were only two of us.)
We could dismount and lead our horses (not an option here as the terrain was too steep)
We could tie the horses to a tree to await our return.
Or we could turn them loose since they know to make their own way back to the trailers in which they came. We chose the last option and after taking off their bridles and lead ropes so they wouldn't snag, let them go.

Tackling a trail-less mountainside without proper boots is no easy task. That it was rather snaky only made things more interesting, but we needed to go as far as we could to "clear" that part of the mountain from the search area, and if we couldn't go higher, then our missing sailor wouldn't have been able to go higher either, or so the protocol goes.

About 20 minutes of climbing we'd gone about as far up as possible. I was hanging on to a manzanita trying to keep my feet under me and Jim was just within sight over to my right, in the same situation.
AS we discussed turning back the dense chaparral below us started to shake and rattle and there were grunting sounds as well---a bear? A rattlesnake? A rattlesnake riding a bear? Whatever it was was heading straight for me and I had nowhere else to go as I was literally hanging at the end of a branch.

A second later my filly stuck her nose through the cover. She decided to come looking for me.

Now how we all got down off that mountainside is another story.
The sailor was found and recovered by another team on the backside of that same mountain.
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by hugodrax » Fri Dec 09, 2016 7:25 pm

Hovannes wrote:Does man tracking with a horse instead of shotgunning with a setter count?

I was on a Sheriff's mounted SAR posse in the Sierra for 20 years.
The early hours of monday was when the Sheriff would often call out the posse after a hiker, hunter, fisherman, rock hound etc...would fail to return home on Sunday.
At the time I had a new posse horse I'd started and trained from a weanling (that's three years of training!) I was happy with the way this one turned out.

The subject of our search was a young sailor who was home on leave and reported by is parents as missing after not returning from a hike.
I was often partnered with my pal Jim, a genuine cowboy with a lot of seniority on the sheriff's posse and a good guy if ever there was. The first team sent out, the Hasty team, found little so the terrain was divided up and Jim and I were given a north facing mountainside overlooking the lake near the resort area where the missing sailor lived, so we saddled up and studied the roadside that skirted the lake---basically a sand trap---for sign. We searched the gently rising forested terrain traveling in grid looking for clues (the sailor was partial to certain brand of candy bar) It looked like our grid search wouldn't turn up anything of interest which is OK in the SAR world With the limited resource of two deputies, Jim and I would omit a sizeable piece of terrain from the search area, allowing the other search parties to focus on areas having greater potential.
Eventually Jim and I ran out of gentle terrain and were confronted with a thinly disguised rock face of the mountainside thickly covered with chaparral and manzanita.
At this point we dismounted and would climb as high as we could on foot (no small task when wearing riding boots) When the cavalry morphs into infantry, there are a few options.
We could turn our horses over to another deputy to hold (not an option since there were only two of us.)
We could dismount and lead our horses (not an option here as the terrain was too steep)
We could tie the horses to a tree to await our return.
Or we could turn them loose since they know to make their own way back to the trailers in which they came. We chose the last option and after taking off their bridles and lead ropes so they wouldn't snag, let them go.

Tackling a trail-less mountainside without proper boots is no easy task. That it was rather snaky only made things more interesting, but we needed to go as far as we could to "clear" that part of the mountain from the search area, and if we couldn't go higher, then our missing sailor wouldn't have been able to go higher either, or so the protocol goes.

About 20 minutes of climbing we'd gone about as far up as possible. I was hanging on to a manzanita trying to keep my feet under me and Jim was just within sight over to my right, in the same situation.
AS we discussed turning back the dense chaparral below us started to shake and rattle and there were grunting sounds as well---a bear? A rattlesnake? A rattlesnake riding a bear? Whatever it was was heading straight for me and I had nowhere else to go as I was literally hanging at the end of a branch.

A second later my filly stuck her nose through the cover. She decided to come looking for me.

Now how we all got down off that mountainside is another story.
The sailor was found and recovered by another team on the backside of that same mountain.
Nice!
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by Thunktank » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:07 am

My First Deer Hunt

In the beautiful Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on a farm owned by a family friend I participated in my first deer hunt at the age of twelve. Typical of the farms in the area, a small river flowed in the valleys between the hills where pastures lead to corn and alfalfa fields that ended at the woods closer to the top. The woods on the farm I hunted had a hidden meadow surrounded by thick brush and oak trees. The hill rose steeply up on the north side of that meadow and that is where our ground stand would be.

On opening day of the buck season which was the first Monday after Thankgiving, we took to our stand before first light. I carried a Remington Model 7 bolt action .243 with open sights. My Dad carried his new Remington Model 700 Classic in .270 Winchester. He traded his pump action 30-06 earlier that year for it. My dad had 30-30s and 35 Remington's in the gun closet in those days, he spoke highly of them and still used them for doe season from time to time, I still don't know why he chose the 243 for me. I should ask him soon I guess.

As light approached the hillside and penetrated the forest tree tops, I could hear grey squirrels and chickadees greet the chilly morning and then a wisper from my dad who said, "Steve, there's a buck up there." He pointed up the hill. My inexperienced eyes only saw a tangle of brush. I couldn't see a deer at all. My Dad kept trying to help me see it to no avail. Soon it disappeared into the maze I never saw it in.

As the sun's rays hit the forest floor a little while later my Dad once again said, "Steve, there's another buck up there! It's bigger than the first one!" Once again his experienced hunter's eyes saw what I could not find. He sighed in disappointment then lifted his rifle to his shoulder and within seconds pulled the trigger. As the sound of gunfire pierced the landscape I saw the buck my Dad saw run straight downhill toward us. As it approached, my dad stood out in front of it at which point it took a sharp right turn and ran just out of sight. We followed right away and just as we walked past where we could have seen from our ground stand we found the deer. It attempted to get up again at which point I witnessed my Dad work a bolt action with great speed and efficiency. The buck never left that spot. It was the largest buck my Dad harvested to that date, a mature eight point. He honored that buck by hanging it's head on the living room wall and feeding the family through winter along with the doe I would shoot a few weeks later in upstate Pennsylvania.

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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by JimVH » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:07 am

The two biggest deer and best shot opportunities I've ever had both occurred just as I awakened from a deep, unintentional slumber. There's nothing more peaceful than the dark, pre-dawn quiet of the woods. The most memorable was when I was 16. We're suburbanites with no property in Texas, so dad would enter us in State deer hunt raffles. On this trip we had been drawn for a beautiful chunk of a rustic ranch in the emptiness well outside of George West, Texas. In the early darkness, dad dropped me off and I took a short hike to the spot I scouted the afternoon we arrived. I settled in and promptly fell sound asleep. I had been out for a while and and woke-up startled with the sun high in the sky. It turns out I was not in the spot I had scouted and found myself laying in a path against an old, broken fence row. I looked down the path and there stood a gorgeous buck only 60 or 70 yards away, standing broadside. I almost peed myself. In my excitement I took a horrible shot and saw only a puff of caliche rock in the ground between his feet. He was long gone before the gravel hit the ground.

What a great moment with valuable lessons. It's one of my favorite hunting experiences ever.

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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by Thunktank » Wed Dec 14, 2016 11:45 am

I wonder how many big bucks walked past that you never woke up to see! :lol:

I also often fall asleep midday while hunting deer. I'm not an early morning person, but deer hunting requires early morning activity. But when that sun comes up and warms things up a little, boy is it easy to find a comfy bed of grass, leaves or pine needles at the base of a tree to lean against and take a nap. :zzz:

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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by durangopipe » Wed Dec 14, 2016 12:38 pm

Enjoying the posts very much.
I'm in the middle of finals week and swamped with grading, but I will try to add something soon.
The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.

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Wherever we go in the world we find other men speaking the same language...dreaming the same dreams. And one of the big four - brownie, or brookie, cutthroat or rainbow - is the cause of it all.

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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by FredS » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:01 pm

Sleeping in the field. . .

One autumn when daughter #1 was perhaps 12 years old she asked to go hunting. She's an animal lover with a soft spot for critters and she often takes the responsibility for seeing that stray dogs and cats are safely returned home. Thus, on the morning I woke her early to go squirrel hunting I had no intention of actually killing anything. I carried a gun, but never loaded it. We got to the woods and took up a stand on a hill overlooking the fall woods and waited for the sun to rise. She laid down with her head in my lap and promptly fell asleep. Not many experiences have topped that chilly fall morning when I watched the woods wake up with my daughter snuggled up in the leaves at my side.
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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by durangopipe » Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:01 pm

FredS wrote:Sleeping in the field. . .

One autumn when daughter #1 was perhaps 12 years old she asked to go hunting. She's an animal lover with a soft spot for critters and she often takes the responsibility for seeing that stray dogs and cats are safely returned home. Thus, on the morning I woke her early to go squirrel hunting I had no intention of actually killing anything. I carried a gun, but never loaded it. We got to the woods and took up a stand on a hill overlooking the fall woods and waited for the sun to rise. She laid down with her head in my lap and promptly fell asleep. Not many experiences have topped that chilly fall morning when I watched the woods wake up with my daughter snuggled up in the leaves at my side.
Lovely.
Thanks, Fred.
The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.

J.R.R. Tolkien



Wherever we go in the world we find other men speaking the same language...dreaming the same dreams. And one of the big four - brownie, or brookie, cutthroat or rainbow - is the cause of it all.

Roderick Haig-Brown

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Re: CPS Hunting Tales

Post by durangopipe » Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:03 pm

Zero was not the first dog I hunted over, but he was the first gun dog I came to know more than casually. I was lucky enough to meet him early in my experience as a bird hunter, when everything was so wonderfully new and exciting. The first quail I ever fired at was pointed by Zero. I missed it. Zero forgave me. That same day he pointed a pair of bobwhite where my friend Jack didn’t think bobwhite should be. Jack called Zero off that point, and the dog reluctantly obeyed. When the birds he had been pointing flushed wild, Jack said something I’ve heard repeated a dozen times since by good hunters with good dogs: “Every time I think I’m smarter than my dog he shows me it just isn’t so.”

Zero was a presence in the field. He had charisma. I don’t know how else to put it. He wasn’t like so many dogs who rush around madly. He ranged only wide enough to cover the ground that Jack wanted covered; unless, of course, Zero was following a hunch. Between Jack and Zero there was the same easiness you find in human hunting partners who have done this dance together for a long time. When Zero would scent a running bird he would trail just fast enough, no faster, and when he had the bird pinned, he would lock up on point, his tail flag flying, his forepaw or a hind foot lifted. His nose would take aim on the bird and the bird would stay put, almost always as if it knew the game was up.

I never saw Zero in his youth, when vigor and enthusiasm probably outweighed wisdom and experience, but I doubt it took him very long to communicate his profound authority to both birds and hunters. This is the stuff of character. Much of it can only be subtly refined with training. Sometimes I believe that the training of a bird dog has more to do with the handler learning the ways of his dog than the dog learning the ways of the handler. I’m glad I met Zero after he had matured; sad, to have hunted with him only one season before he died. I will always remember him as he was on the last day he hunted: steady, sure, confident, thorough. I can still see his slightly larger than average, a bit stockier than typical, English setter body strolling through the brush. I can see his square head held high, his nose working the air for scent. I can see his white coat and orange spots moving through the dappled light of a riparian glade as he worked a stream bottom. I will remember forever the orange glow of an afternoon on a ridgetop in the North Texas mesquite when it seemed the color of the landscape had been tinged with Zero’s radiant presence, that the setting sun seemed to reflect his orange brilliance and not the other way around.

If there was anything more appropriate for that wonderful creature to be doing than hunting Texas bobwhite in the mesquite, I don’t know what it might have been. If there is anything more beautiful, I haven’t seen it. If there is anything more natural, I cannot imagine it. He was bred for it. He was trained for it. He lived for it.

He died, when he could no longer do it.
The most improper job of any man, even saints, is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.

J.R.R. Tolkien



Wherever we go in the world we find other men speaking the same language...dreaming the same dreams. And one of the big four - brownie, or brookie, cutthroat or rainbow - is the cause of it all.

Roderick Haig-Brown

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