December 4, 2003

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

One of the best sporting weeks in recent memory and I am writing this under the influence of muscle relaxants while setting atop a heating pad wondering how in the world I'm going to be able to get up the stairs to go to bed tonight.

Last week was the end of deer season, the middle of duck hunting and the start of quail chasing. Add in a little basketball at the gym on Sunday night, standing around for a few hours for the family trap shooting event on Thanksgiving day and its no wonder that I feel like I need to be in a hospital bed in traction.

The week opened with the final days of the deer season. As I wrote last week, I was already done, but I sure was having fun watching the big guys as I tried to help my brother in law land his trophy. Sure enough, Tuesday morning he put a huge eight pointer down just where we established trophy hunters (I can include myself in that category now) had told him to sit. The only problem was the deer played opossum and after the hunter went to get the truck he took off. Three days after playing dead for the audience and the big guy was still on the loose despite the massive family search parties. I know just how my brother-in-law felt as I was never able to find the big buck I stuck with an arrow last year. I'll give him this much, the guy never quit trying to find the deer and that's why this part of the tale will end here without any attempts at humor at his expense.

I feel a bit guilty as a few of my hunting friends lured me away from the deer search for a trip to Fountain Grove (down by Brookfield) for a trip into duck country. They didn't lie, as we saw thousands upon thousands of water fowl flying from sunup to sundown. The only problem was the ducks and geese simply teased us all day and 10 hours of hunting only netted a pair of mallard hens, a drake wood duck and a snow goose. It was still lots of fun but when you consider we had to leave at 2:00 a.m. to get to the blind before sunup, it sure makes the few hundred ducks flying in and out of Lake Show Me a lot more attractive.

The highlight of my outdoor fun was Saturday. We started out with some good entertainment. The big city cousins couldn't resist playing guns with us hunters. We got the clay pigeons out and ran through a few hundred rounds on the shotguns. That translated into about half a box of skeet as we were able to go out and recover a good number of the clay targets for second and third rounds through the thrower.

I must say that practice does make perfect. Well, not perfect but I shot the best I have ever done later that afternoon when I snuck off from the family monopoly game to quail hunt. Believe it or not I got into five different coveys of the rare birds and bagged six. I can't remember the last time I did that well, either seeing that many, or making that many good shots. I doubled not once, but twice on solid covey rises. The dogs were superb, well at least for them. Two of the covey rises caught me by surprise, but the dogs did find two birds that hit the ground running. It's odd, but my Labrador finds the covey and points momentarily before flushing the birds. The setter then goes out and finds the dead birds and points them. I realize that's backwards, but with as little training as either of my mutts has received and the further lack of quality hunting chances in the past few years and I felt like I had a pair of field trial champs on my hands.

Unfortunately after three hours of trudging through the brush I was basically relegated to my hands and knees as a slowly worsening back strain had steadily tightened up until I had to use the cell phone to summon an extrication from the timber. A back rub and a trip to the hot tub did little good as by dinner time I was unable to stand straight up and was relegated to crawling up the stairs to bed. Makes for a tough decision next week, more quail hunting or the ability to set upright? You probably know which one I'll choose.

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