I hadn't been hunting yet this season, so I was really looking forward to hitting the fields with my hunting buddy, Chris. I was even going to play hookie from studying for the day.
Saturday I found out that I guy I went to the Academy with is also a hunter. We were studying for the Sergeant's exam when I told him I was going to bail on him today to go hunt. He got the gleam in his eye and said, "Hunting?" Naturally, I would have liked to go out hunting with him.
Being out on a field with an armed stranger is, at best, nerve-wracking. I had to call Chris and run it by him. Chris had his own 'stranger' he wanted to bring. The plus side, this stranger wasn't going to go armed. He just wanted to train his dog up. Chris and I usually rent a dog, with varying levels of satisfaction.
I should come clean and say that Chris and I both have dogs. Neither of which are suited for or trained to bird hunting. I couldn't survive the man-point deduction I would suffer for showing up to hunt with a red standard poodle. His problem is the other end of the spectrum: A bull mastiff isn't all that suitable for game birds.
Given that it is always good policy to minimize the new variables in an equation involving firearms, I contacted my classmate and said it was a no-go on this occasion.
The day started well in that it wasn't raining when the forecast said it would be. We met the dog owner and got along well.
We hit the field ready to take some birds. Chris went to make certain the chamber on his semiauto was clear to load. Something broke inside his gun with a ping and a tiny piece of metal went flying. The club staff agreed to loan him a gun, but he had to run out to Walmart and pick up shells for the 20 gauge.
Meanwhile, me, the dog and the owner were in the field working the perimeter. Chris was gone for forty minutes. No birds. Not one. Guys in the field next to us got birds up, and knocked some down. They also shot at a bird flying so low that I heard the evil whickering of buckshot through the brush far too close for comfort.
The next three hours we managed to get three birds up, most of which we sight-hunted ourselves, watching them fly in from other, more productive fields. We only knocked two birds down. A fourth bird was pounced on by the inexperienced dog.
I fired at one bird, more out of frustration than any real thought I would hit it at the excessive distance it had reached before it was safe to fire on.
There were supposedly eight birds planted in our field.
It wasn't my day.
Then again, if I was hunting annoyance, I was successful.