Anticipating the first upland bird hunt of autumn 2018
For the first upland hunt of the year, I have low expectations for grouse numbers, as well as my dog’s ability to stay as close as I demand. Luna hasn’t hunted birds since last winter, so her head is going to explode when she sees me put on my orange vest and uncase the shotgun.
That’s OK, I’ll give her this one.
The first upland hunt of the year, which arrives this weekend for us, is just a reminder of where we will be soon enough. We might find a grouse or two, although I suspect that any birds that end up in my game bag will be woodcock. I’ve selected a few routes that should take us through some good habitat, although they might change if the wind switches directions or the whim strikes me to walk somewhere else.
It doesn’t matter much. This first hunt, and probably this whole weekend, will be a good exercise in getting back into the habit for both of us. I don’t care if I kill a bird or not, only that Luna and I rediscover the old rhythm of hunting together.
It will take a few miles, and probably a few stern man-to-dog conversations about how it all needs to go down, but we’ll get there. If a bonus bird hits the ground and she retrieves it, so be it. If not, we’ll still enjoy ourselves plenty.
If you’re gearing up to pursue whatever birds are open right now, give your dog a little slack. You probably won’t start the season in perfect hunting shape, and neither will your four-legged hunting partner. It takes a few days to iron out the upland wrinkles, but eventually the whole process becomes something natural and truly enjoyable.
When it does, that’s when the birds had better watch out. Until then, just enjoy the process of getting where you – and your dog – need to be.