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A Sure Shot

Notes from the North Woods

Across the North Country, in local tamarack bogs, the tall slender stalks of Common Cottongrass have sprouted.  They have the appearance of  marshmellows stuck on sticks, which were mysteriously lost in a bog.  With large cotton-like flowers, the plant provides a natural caution flag to warn of potentially deep and dangerous bogs.

Across the North Country, in local tamarack bogs, the tall slender stalks of Common Cottongrass have sprouted. They have the appearance of marshmellows stuck on sticks, which were mysteriously lost in a bog. With large cotton-like flowers, the plant provides a natural caution flag to warn of potentially deep and dangerous bogs. Photo by Joe Hackett.

Although autumn delivers a wide range of recreational opportunities, one of the true joys of the season is the opportunity to return to the field in the company of man’s best friend.

Whether hunting for upland game such as pheasant, woodcock or ruffed grouse in the forests and fields, or taking to the wetlands for waterfowl such as ducks of geese; time spent in the company of a four-legged companion is always special. Hunting dogs are a unique breed of animal; they live to hunt, to point and to retrieve, and they strive to please.

In fact, some anthropologists believe mankind would have never advanced beyond the stage of simple hunter-gatherers if not for domesticated dogs. Dogs provided the unique services of herding, guarding and hunting, which allowed mankind to control herds of animals.

Several years ago, I had an opportunity to hunt in the company of an old friend, who owns a large farm near Cobleskill, NY. Along with a wide menagerie of animals, Richard also raises pheasants. I joined him and his thirteen year old son, for a day in the field

Although I had experience with both grouse and woodcock at the time; I had spent very little time afield, hunting for pheasants. However, I reckoned that knocking down a few recently released pheasants would be rather easy, given my background with grouse and woodcock. Pheasants offer a larger, and slower moving target than either grouse or woodcock. Conveniently, they also tend to fly off, in a straight away fashion.

It was a cool morning, as we set off with Laddie, a German Shorthair Pointer. The dog, a retired National Field Champion, was literally bouncing off the ground with excitement. And as I recall, so was I.

The dog took to the hunt like a young pup, and as he romped through the open fields and surrounding brush, the bell on his collar sounded a cheery note.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net

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