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George Little: The dogs can’t wait and I can’t either

November 04, 2011 at 07:37 AM

The State Journal-Register

I don’t know how they know. But they do.

Tomorrow morning, Mickey and Toby will be at the gate with their ears and tails up in high anticipation. Then they will start howling as if Cruella De Vil and her henchmen were backing up the Duesenberg. The neighbors will think they are being tortured.

In their Brittany minds, they are. The first Saturday in November is the first day of the upland hunting season. They know what day it is, and no matter how fast I get them into the truck, it is not fast enough.

As soon as they’re in the dog box and the tailgate latches, they are happy guys. By the time I head down the driveway, Tony will be on his way to the customary meeting spot. Big John will be there already, staring at the Eastern horizon, trying to push the sun up in the sky a little faster. Tony will arrive a minute early. He knows, as we all do, that Buckwheat is going to miss the mark by one cup of convenience store coffee.

No need to get too excited during the wait. When he eventually arrives, Buckwheat will start dragging clothes and equipment out of his truck, looking like someone who has made the spur of the moment decision to run away from home.

Mickey and Toby have seen all three acts of this dramatic comedy their whole hunting lives. They know game time is just a short ride away, as soon as Buckwheat gets his shells picked up off the ground and his stuff jammed into the truck. Toby doesn’t even bother to watch anymore. Mickey would get out and help if it would move things along.

It’s opening day, and the four of us are back in business for a hunting season that goes by much too quickly. I still think we should be granted one extra hunting day at the end of the season for each Christmas program attended, holiday family gathering that can’t be avoided, and for putting up outside decorations on sunny, late-November days.

Depending on where you hunt and whom you talk to, this year’s pheasant- and quail-hunting prospects range from fair to poor. The blizzard of last February; a cold, wet spring; and shrinking habitat all took their toll on wild birds that weren’t that abundant anyway. It doesn’t seem likely we will ever again see the quail and pheasant populations of the 1980s.

Opening day is no time to be concerned with what isn’t. If full game bags were the prime objective, we’d all stay home to clean out the gutters. We get to walk the country, watch the dogs work and talk to each other as if no time has passed since we packed it in at the end of the last season.

If we get some birds up, it’s icing on a cake. If we don’t, the cake is always pretty tasty all by itself.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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