Dove season opened today. For me, here in North Dakota, the first day of dove season is the opening of the hunting season. Next week the season on grouse will open and it seems that every week or two thereafter another season will open, in some cases the new season replacing one that is closing. The sequence of seasons opening and closing is something that I truly enjoy. However, in this household I am not alone because Cookie, my German Wirehair, suddenly finds a new purpose in life--the hunt.
For the past several days Cookie has been like a tight clock spring. Every few minutes she would walk around my desk and push her muzzle under my arm and then try to flip my hands off the keyboard. If that didn’t work to get my attention she would start looking around on my desk for something to “retrieve,” usually one of my fountain pens. She doesn’t pick up ballpoint pens and rarely grabs a pencil but when she finally settles on something to retrieve she grabs it, sometimes working herself into a semi-standing position to get what she wants. Her game then is to go around the desk, with the pen in her mouth, and then “bring” me the pen.
I don’t know if it is the change in temperature, or like the deciduous trees when the hours of sunlight changes it triggers their change of color, the sunlight somehow tripping Cookie’s awareness that it is nearly hunting season, but something does trigger the change.
As August counts down to September she becomes increasingly fidgety, wanting to get outside, get in the Suburban and do something. She wants to be active.
Usually the opening of dove season finds me up early to get in the fields. Today everything had to wait until I had taken care of other business, and I don’t know if Cookie could read my desire to go hunting, or there is a mysterious connection between us, but she knew. This afternoon, when I walked over to the hunting vests hanging on one wall Cooke came unglued. She began jumping around the office and one minute she would be sitting by the door and the next she was right beside me. Suddenly, when I picked up my shotgun she calmed down and went to the door and sat in front of it. Her tail was wagging furiously across the floor and her legs were quivering and she was staring at the door as if she could open it by sheer doggie willpower.
Normally, when I open the office door and Cookie “escapes” into town she runs a few laps around our block, giving my heart another reason not to work as intended because she has no appreciation of cars on the street, but this time she went to the Suburban and waited. I let her in, clipping her leash so she couldn’t get in the front seat, and then I loaded Buster (“her” Basset hound, that’s another story).
After putting my shooting bag and shotgun in the front seat we were off. Cookie was calm, or at least as calm as she can be, while I drove to a prairie road between roost trees and a harvested field. Somewhere between leaving my office and reaching my hunting spot, a place where I could make a blind for pass shooting at dove, I decided that it was Cookie’s day. I arranged my shotgun, possibles bag and all important Thermos of coffee while Cookie and Buster were clipped to the Suburban. Then I was ready. I turned them loose and stood back to watch. Buster started on a heading and his stumpy, fat, legs blurred as he ran across the stubble field. Cookie immediately started hunting. She had her nose down and began coursing, but just as I had earlier decided that it would be her day, she decided to have more fun. She found water, chased the blackbirds out of the cattails, and when I shot at a passing dove she turned to see if it would fall (it didn’t).
Today was Cookie’s day. She ran, she swam, and she hunted, and generally enjoyed life. That is what it is all about, enjoying our world. I fired one barrel of my muzzle loader double and I missed. Okay, who cares? I don’t. Maybe I am becoming older, or less critical of myself, but whatever it is I had more fun watching my dog bound across the stubble field, charge into the cattails and then splash and swim. She shook off the summer and prepared herself for what is truly her season--the autumn, when colors of celebration burst throughout the tree lines, farmsteads and along the rivers, and deep inside those color filled days is the time of the hunt--Cookie’s time--our time. I suppose that is what separates us from those who don’t hunt. All they can do is look at Cookie’s time; those of us who hunt are part of her time. It really is a big difference in how we are living life.
Think about it.
11 months ago