I got two surprise hugs this week. In my humble opinion surprise hugs (where you get grabbed and hugged unexpectedly) are the second best hugs only trailing the hugs you get when you've been away from home a long time.
You can kind of see the first one in Aidan's video over in the video thread. He shot that banded quail and was super excited. Our group fist-bumps as a masculine form of celebration but following our fist-bump he grabbed me and hugged me. Super cool!
The second was just as awesome. Another friend of mine and his 16 YO son hunted on Friday. It was dry, hot and windy and the morning walks produced no action. We went to town and ate a HUGE lunch at a little Mexican food place across the state line in Texas. Dad and I had some beer with our lunch so we were, by mutual agreement, done hunting. We spent the afternoon wandering around the southern half of Beaver County seeing the sights arriving in the evening on a small ranch I lease for hunting. I parked on top of a hill overlooking some thickets and Dad had his son take their young Field-bred Cocker, Roxie, to walk through the thickets. This spot is the closest I have to a "sure-thing" place. We stood on top of the hill and watched.
Roxie and the boy didn't get 100 yards from the truck and I could see the boy's attention stiffen and intensify. Shortly thereafter a covey of bobwhite exploded from the edge of a big thicket and the boy tracked on and shot it. As he's been taught he hustled to the down bird and was met there by Roxie. Both the boy and the dog were jumping with joy. I'm pleased and am laughing contentedly when dad grabs me and gives me a grateful bear-hug. Super cool!
As age takes from me much of the fascination I once had with killing game I've found that watching youngsters understand their place in the grand scheme of life gives me great pleasure. Take a kid hunting!
I love this screen capture from some video yesterday. This little hen let me get really close before she re-flushed as a single. She's probably not 5 feet from me in this picture. The energy and movement are captured by the blurriness of the background while the details on her wings and tail speak to me of the focus required to be a successful wingshot.
This is the same bird a half-heartbeat later. If you watch the video I posted in the other thread you'll know the outcome.
I'm pretty certain I enjoy the screen captures from my videos as much, and possibly more, than I do the videos themselves. I find myself using the GoPro to take photos more and more each passing season as it provides unique angles and handles the lower light situations I frequently face better than my other cameras.
I also really enjoy using the captures to tell a story. Here you see the dogs pointing this covey in a sumac thicket.
As I move past the dogs the initial flurry of the flush breaks the tops of the thicket.
In half a heart-beat chaos fills the sky.
And all the hours of training, dusty miles and hope reach critical mass.
So you gather up your sacrifices to Diana, the goddess of the hunt, and go do it again.