(the bohr-ee-al-ist)

RECALIBRATE

Posted on May 26, 2014

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Sometimes “it’s good just to get out”, isn’t so much a cliche as it is an understatement.


Red-winged blackbirds in the reeds, the rocking of the boat, a few pike in the shallows and the warm sun peeking through the clouds. A four-legged navigator at the bow, the greening of the poplars, trumpeter swans doing fly bys and a few beer in the cooler.


That’s good medicine.

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DAWDLE, DAWDLE . . . HURRY

Posted on April 15, 2014

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Pike are hell on flies.


Razor sharp teeth and aggressive strikes, leave a fly box full of torn and shredded bits of feather and fur.


At the end of every season, inventory is taken and plans are made for the next year. Materials are ordered, recipes poured over and ideas sketched out. The intention being to spend cold winter days sitting at the vise, watching the snow pile up outside, tying replacements and experimenting with new patterns.


But that vision never seems to materialize. Instead, other less productive ways to spend time are found and the vise sits idle for most of the winter. Suddenly spring appears and along with it, the realization that a single fly, had yet to be tied. Finally, after a winter’s worth of procrastination, a beer is cracked, the vise dusted off and every single spare moment is spent tying flies before the ice thaws.


Happens every year. This one being no different.

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THE COLD SHOULDER

Posted on February 13, 2014

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Flush a bird in the winter and this is the look you’ll get.


A mixture of anger and annoyance, contempt and confusion. She thought you were partners. She thought that you and her had a deal . . . she puts ’em up, you put ’em down.


But you just stood there on your cross country skis, poles in hand, mumbling apologies and justifications. Something about the date and game bird seasons.


But bird dogs can’t read a calendar and don’t grasp the complexities of wildlife management systems.


So you get the cold shoulder for fifteen minutes before all is forgiven again.

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BREAK TRAIL

Posted on January 22, 2014

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Its dark and cold and there’s a lethargy that swallows all good intentions, call it Seasonal Affective Disorder or the Post-Bird Season Blues.


The solution is simple.


Step outside.


Step outside. Break trail.


Step outside. Break trail. Go places.


Step outside. Break trail. Go places.


Break trail. Go places.


Go places.

ITS AS FAR AWAY NOW AS IT’LL EVER BE

Posted on December 16, 2013

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Just a few weeks ago the skies were blue, the clover green and the birds were still moving in the afternoon sun.


But then the daylight dwindles, the thermometer plummets, the hard frosts finish off the clover and the birds begin sticking closer to cover.


Soon after the first snows blanket the ground, allowing to you to see what the dog could always smell.


You focus in on the most likely places but the birds have all but vanished. Every infrequent flush seemingly the last that you’ll see. Still you push on through the thick brush, searching for birds.


The very few that you do down are hard won, hunkered down as they were in the tangled undergrowth and dense spruce thickets. Each one a just reward for the distance on your feet and the numbness in your fingers.


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Then one morning you wake up to two feet of snow, another grouse season ending and the realization that “rent-a-movie” weather has begun in earnest.


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THE UNORTHODOX

Posted on December 3, 2013

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No will ever mistake me for a sharpshooting shotgun wizard but I’m not afraid of a hike and I know when to pull the trigger.


She won’t win any field trials but she works fairly close, with a good nose for birds and if I do down one she won’t come back without a mouthful of feathers.


She wasn’t always a bird dog. I haven’t always hunted birds.


No mentors. No trainers. We’ve grown into this together. Teaching each other, continually learning through trial and error.


We’re more than a little unorthodox out there, but we get it done often enough.

STAY

Posted on November 20, 2013

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Two weeks into winter and I’ll already be thinking about spring. The snow melting. Long days of sunlight. Hungry pike feeding in the shallows.


Springtime will find me standing in a boat chasing pike but my mind will turn to the upcoming summer. The bugs dying down. The greening of the land. Casting smaller flies to rising fish.


And then in summer walking along a grayling stream in the middle of August, sweltering in the heat, the afternoon sun beating down, I’ll inevitably find my thoughts wandering to crisp fall mornings, bird dogs, and the return of ravenous fish.


But the only thoughts I have in autumn are about how I wish it would last forever.


Never does though . . . never does.

THAT’S THAT THEN

Posted on November 7, 2013

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It’s a long way to haul a boat just to find it all solid.


Close to a foot at the launches but you don’t know if you don’t go.


A quick look. A return home.


A rather anti-climatic end to the fishing season.

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

Posted on November 5, 2013

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On that particular day, we hunted the home quarter. More of an appeasement walk for a pent-up dog than anything else, but the gun and the game bag came along, in the off chance we came across any grouse. We walked the forest section without any sign of birds and then cut out to the field on the return. The field being a less demanding route, so we’d be home in time to catch the hockey game.


As we walked back along the fenceline, the dog stiffened, her nose working the ground with purpose. An odd sight. It was no place for ruffed grouse and I hadn’t seen a sharpie here in years.


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Unbeknownst to me, some misguided and enterprising soul had begun a “put and shoot” pheasant preserve, up here in the north. A place mostly inhospitable to and completely devoid of pheasants.


Unbeknownst to the pheasant, the place he’d managed to escape to, the one that looked so enticing, with its long grass, scrub brush and cover to hide him from the cold and coyotes – that specific place was inhabited by a bird dog in need of some outside time.


Imagine our collective surprise – the bird’s, the dog’s and mine – when the dog charged into the long grass, flushing out a brightly colored rooster.


The rest played out the way we like it to. A downed bird. A gentle retrieve. All smiles (mine) and tail wags(hers).

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While cleaning the bird, I noticed a band with an engraved phone number on his ankle. A quick phone call filled in the blanks on how exactly we’d came to encounter each other on that particular day.