Wednesday, August 12, 2015

One Month To Go

Grouse season in Wisconsin opens in exactly one month, September 12th.  Woodcock season opens the following Saturday on the 19th.  This picture is from mid-September last year, and as you can see most of the leaves are still on the trees.  Sometimes the first few weeks of the season feel like jungle hunting, shooting through all that green, sweating and slapping mosquitoes. Several years ago, it hit 80 degrees on opening day, so I ease into the season and hunt the cool of the early mornings.  I'm careful since Fergus does not tolerate the heat well.  Nor do I, come to think of it.    

Even though it's summer yet, the garden still lush, the time has come to get the dogs in the woods for a little fine tuning before the season begins. We're waiting for the first cool morning to come along, one in the upper 30s or low 40s.  I also need to get to the range and break a few clay pigeons, maybe the Cable Rod and Gun Club next week.  I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas to finally arrive.  


Monday, August 3, 2015

In Harm's Way

This is Ox, who died in 2009 at nearly 13 years of age of a combination of Lyme disease and Leptospirosis (See CDC link for more info).  I write this because a friend recently sent me information about Leptospirosis vaccinations and the debate about whether it's better to vaccinate for the disease or treat it when it occurs.  Where we hunt in northern Wisconsin, the woods are rife with Lyme, Lepto, as well as Anaplasmosis (CDC link), another tick-borne disease similar to Lyme.  Hunting in the woods around here, we understand the risk to not just our dogs but ourselves.

Some days I think we should just keep the dogs, as well as ourselves, safe inside the house with as little exposure to risks as possible.  There's a lot of bad stuff our there, so play it safe and keep out of harm's way.  But then I think of all of the good out there and how much my dogs love to hunt, and I can't deny them what they live for.

When I hunt Fergus and Jenkins individually and back out of the drive, I glance over at the picture window and see the dog left behind inside the house -- nose pressed against the glass, ears down, eyes begging. "Please, take me.  I'll be good.  I promise."  Some days I relent, roll back up the drive, go back inside and grab the other dog, who runs out to the truck dancing around like a kid at Christmas.  That kind of joy is infectious and difficult to deny.

My dogs don't fret over risk.  They want to live and breathe and hunt.