Monday, October 22, 2007

Hunting pheasant with two sons and a dog -- four years apart

(RememberingTheArgus editor’s note: Today, in honor of this time of year, of pheasant hunting, and of my brother, I’m posting two of our father’s columns on hunting. At the top is one from the fall of 1956. In it, dad tells how proud he was of my brother’s hunting skill as a 14-year-old. But first he goes on at length about the great fall weather and his fondness for a loaner dog Buz who was all of 15 at the time. The second column is from four years earlier. As I remember well, my own untrained hunting skills at 14 were obviously improved by tramping after Buz, who was then going strong at 11.)

The Argus Observes from Oct. 22, 1956

By Don Lynch

Rarely in the post-war years has there been a better day for the opening day of pheasant season.

The weather was perfect. There had been a heavy rain the days earlier and a lighter rain just two or three days before. The ground was soft with a deep moisture, but neither slick enough to cause a walker to slide nor wet enough to ball on the soles of shoes. Dogs work best of all with this amount of moisture. Sopping wet foliage places them at a disadvantage and dry ground is far worse.

We have had years when the ground was bone dry and dust thick and deep for the first day of China season. Then a dog can hardly find a scent unless the bird is right there. The poor hound’s nose soon gets jammed with dust and many dogs develop a bad nasal condition something like hay fever.

Wind is the worst weather handicap to hunting. When the wind blows dogs can’t work well, hunters can’t shoot well and birds sit tight.

None of these disadvantages handicapped our hunting Saturday. Not only were ground conditions ideal but the weather was perfect for comfort and for shooting.
The temperature at sunrise was a nice, crisp 28. It warmed rapidly, and by mind-morning a light jacket was sufficient. Then light clouds moved in for an afternoon overcast and it never did get too warm to walk in comfort.

Even with perfect conditions this old man (Editor’s note: he was 41 at the time) spent himself too fast. I couldn’t keep from running in the beet fields to stay close to the dog during the first couple of hours. That did it. I’m still hobbling around.

We hunted the farm of Bill Moore on Foothill Drive with a party that had come over from Coquille with his uncle, John Moore, a native of Ontario. The party was large enough to drive the cornfields. The eight of us came within one bird of getting our limits, which is pretty good for a party that size hunting behind a single dog.

Poor old Buz. Or perhaps it would be better to say, “Magnificent old Buz.”

He is 15 or 16 years old, being born before World War II. Saturday morning he got as excited as a two-year-old hound but steadied down much faster. Sunday he was out at daylight raring to go after a full day of hard work. But he was too stiff to do much when he got into the field.
Never in his prime did he hold birds better nor find cripples faster. If his end comes in the field on the scent of a bird, he’ll die happy.

The most pleasant experience of the day for me was the shooting of my 24-year-old son, Dennis, on his first day with a shotgun. Two of his first three shots were dead-on kills shooting with a 20 gauge and a 7½ chill load. It will probably be a year or two before he does as well again.

Such an experience is almost as much thrill for the father as for the son. I can remember how each of his birds looked, how it flew, how he shot, how it fell; and I can’t specifically recall the details of a single hit that I made myself.

The Argus Observes from Nov. 10, 1952

Pheasant hunting companionship was provided for me this year by a boy and a dog.

My 14-year-old son bagged his first pheasant on the fly Saturday, at least the first time that he did not double with another hunter on the kill.

He really likes to hunt and will be a much better outdoor sportsman than I. Just now he is an ideal companion because he doesn’t wear out the old man. He is still willing to take it easy learning as he goes along.

He isn’t yet big and strong enough physically or a good enough shot at a moving target to outshine his father. That permits me to hunt the easy, lazy way that fits my limited abilities.
When I get out with good hunters and get to dubbing shots that should be sure and tire of the pace, I feel like so much excess baggage. So hunting with an adolescent son is really quite a treat.

The dog was a windfall and a wonderful companion too. He was Bill Moore’s hound, Buz. Son of a fine pointer, and an unknown father, he is just a hound, but I have never seen a dog work better on pheasants.

He has none of the temperament and little of the headstrong nature one ordinarily associates with good hunting dogs. He is friendly as any mongrel pup you ever saw, he minds well, and there never was a more tenacious and persistent hunter. He hates to quit, maneuvered very way he could to keep from returning to the house. He wanted to keep right on hunting after four hours of steady pounding.

It is quite a privilege for a man who doesn’t own a hunting dog to enjoy the service of such a friendly hound.

While we were out this week end, I got the impression that Malheur county is ending the pheasant season with a better than usual carry over of birds. Although they were wild, there were a good many roosters left and, of course, an abundance of hens. If the birds get a decent break on the weather this winter, next year should produce the best pheasant crop of its famous pheasants that this county has seen in several years.

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