This morning started early. Hudson woke us up before the sun. I don’t know if he was sick, nervous, or just knew what the day held. This would be our first day hunting. Hudson was born for this; the concept was completely foreign to me. I didn’t grow up in a family that hunts; I don’t have friends who hunt.
Before today, I have hunted on one other occasion. I went turkey hunting in North Central Florida as a guest of my boss. While I can point to this as a pivotal experience that lead up to today, it was the basic equivalent to shooting at a Butterball.
The three years that lead up to this day have changed me. It’s probably safe to assume that the last three years have changed everyone. Not that anything particularly extraordinary has happened in the past three years, but it is a long time.
In the fall of 2009 I had the idea that I wanted to be able to account for all of the food I eat. This idea turned into a desire to try and not only account for all of my food, but to actually have a hand in producing or harvesting all of my food. Hunting was a natural outgrowth of this.
Nearly two years ago I decided I should commit to my goal of becoming a hunter. It was then that I decided to get a dog to use for hunting upland birds. Since then I have been reading and deciding what to do to finally become a hunter. Meanwhile I was getting no closer to actually providing food for myself.
I was so concerned with instant success and having the right equipment that I didn’t actually do any hunting. It was time that I actually followed through. This year I set the goal for my self that I would not eat any meat that I couldn’t trace. If I can’t tell you where it came from and how it was raised, I wont eat it. The idea in setting this goal was meant to encourage me to commit to hunting. Instead I “cheated” and simply bought local meat.
Back to today. Even though the first day of fall was on Friday, the high today was just south of 80 degrees. When Hudson (my dog) went into the woods this morning the heat was still bearable. I love my dog, and I’m fairly confident that he loves me but now we have to learn to work together as partners, not just dog and man. I have to learn to trust him when he goes into cover or starts getting “birdy,” and he has to learn that he can count on me to put him into good cover and get to him when he points. This summer I boarded him with Garret and Nellie Booth of Grey’s Outfitting in Caratunk, Maine. They are very knowledgeable trainers that were able to get Hudson tuned to a level that I could not have.
Overall we had what I would call a successful day. Hudson had three really good points that he held until I was able to get into position. I was even able to get a shot off! Even though I came home empty handed, I came home with a new resolution. Being in the woods this morning, I learned more about hunting and about working with my dog than by doing anything else that I could have.
I also feel more committed to my goal of only eating what I harvest. Preparing Hudson and myself this morning; walking into the woods with my gun and a purpose to come home with food changed my mindset. While I enjoyed every part of this day, I was disappointed to come home without any food to show for it. While I can’t expect to come home with food after every outing, especially when deer season starts, each day I go out I learn, and I am one step closer to my goal of being a hunter.