January 3, 2002

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Apparently a few folks read last week's column where I linked my sanity or lack of it on a shortage of outdoor outings. Anyway in the past week I've been asked to go ice fishing, bow hunting and even got a chance to hunt some chuckars with the in-laws. Sounds like they agreed with me that I was losing my mind or at least had been a little stressed out as of late.

Unfortunately my brothers-in-law were still hounding me on Monday morning to do some more hunting or fishing and I had to go to work. Sure I'm the boss now, and sure I've missed a minute or two out of the regular nine to five office routine for the pursuit of outdoor activities. But I still had to get the paper done, especially considering the holiday schedule and that we were to be closed on Tuesday for New Year's. Peer pressure is awful hard to deal with. I sat at my computer trying to write stories and all I could see was pictures in my mind of those guys having a ball hunting and fishing. It's sort of like a little kid who gets a new toy for Christmas and all the other kids sneak in and play with it while you are not looking. Of course then they had to call me a couple times and tell me how much fun they were having in order to rub it in a bit.

Oh well, at least I did get a chance to hunt on Sunday afternoon. That was quite an experience. First my setter decided to bolt the scene. I can't really blame him, since my brother-in-law once scared him so badly that he still barks non-stop as soon as his pick-up arrives at the farm. It's so bad, the silly dog gets to barking anytime he walks by the window and sees him. Anyway, I guess the idea of being within a hundred yards of his one-time tormentor, who now was armed with a shotgun, was too much for the dog and he flipped out and ran for the woods.

It was probably a wise move, because the poor dog likely would have been disgusted with us as poor a shooting display as we gave. We got the first bird, but the next six got away, not without a guns blazing salute from us as we emptied our guns to no avail. I'll lump myself into this group, but I only shot once early on. Now I'll brag a bit, because yours truly likely will be referred to as dead eye by the family, as I put down the next four birds without a miss. It was bad enough that I was forced to hand off my gun (we had five hunters and only four shotguns).

I'm going to give some credit where credit is due to a name that has not been mentioned in this space for some time. My old buddy Lake did one heck of a job. The black lab flustered us once or twice when he flushed a bird before we were ready, but we never lost one. His job is primarily to retrieve but since we had so much trouble hitting the birds, he finally gave up and started pointing them as well.

When it was all said and done, we had only 11 of the 25 birds to take home to clean. But we had a lot more important items to keep from the outing as it was definitely a quality family experience, with some good bonding between friends. Plus now I have plenty of ammunition to rib the rest of the gang, since I sort of am one up on the shooting percentages. Of course I don't imagine they will be asking me for shooting lessons or anything either, as I did get the gun back a little later and I never connected again despite firing numerous shots. I should have just quit on a high note.

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