This is our time of year. It does not matter if you hunt with a bow, muzzle loader, “modern” arms, or more exotically with a bird of prey, the point is you hunt. We feel a stirring deep within our souls and it is linked to nature’s change of colors and the cooler mornings and evenings. At some point we wake up, look around and realize that the season most important to us is about to open and we have a check list of unfinished tasks. That’s where I now find myself except the favorite season is one that I may never hunt in again—the Greater Prairie Chicken season of Kansas. One of the few bird hunts I managed to make with my brother, Richard, was for Prairie Chickens in the flint hills near Wichita. At the time neither of use knew that cancer was already eating at him and we would never again hunt together. That weekend was a great hunt and it was made even greater by the presence of Gretel, my Springer Spaniel. When she flushed and retrieved a prairie chicken for Richard she became a special dog and after that moment she was welcome in the house and no longer regulated to the basement or garage.
Both Richard and Gretel are now gone and I doubt I will ever again hunt the flint hills of Kansas, but on occasion, when I need it most, a reminder of that hunt pops up in mysterious places. Oftentimes, when the stress of life begins to pile up on me and I feel the seams coming apart I’ll find a reminder of that hunt in unexpected places—a tiny feather. Why’s that important? On the day of Richard’s funeral, when we buried him, I reached into my London Fog coat pocket and found a tiny feather from his prairie chicken. Since then, when I am feeling the stress of life and I find a feather in a pocket I stop to look at the feather and remember that hunt when it was just my oldest brother, my dog, and me in the Kansas flint hills and the world isn’t quote so bad after all. This is something that can only be understood by the hunter, for others it is simply mystical nonsense and wishful thinking. I feel sorry for those people.
Have a good weekend of hunting; I’m headed south for pheasant. glg
7 months ago