Moving to Colorado in January of 2009 has allowed me to experience the outdoors Western style. Early on, I quickly replaced my bait casting/spinning gear with a fly rod and reel. Initial frustrations with technique and execution has slowly evolved to now being able to meander through tail waters and catch fish. I thank Mr. Joe Butler (and his son Chad) for having the patience to teach me how to fly fish.
The excitement of hunting rabbit with beagles a handful of times in my life, along with watching a variety of programming on Versus and The Outdoor Channel, prompted me to investigate upland game bird hunting. After acquiring my first shotgun (Lanber 2097 Sporting Lux – 12 gauge) in the fall of 2009, I ventured out to a sporting clays range to test my admittedly limited skills. My four year old son (now six) volunteered to pull clays, and joined me on my initial foray into the sport. Like my first day with a fly rod, my obvious lack of skills produced little results. Clays went out, and only came down when the law of gravity took over. People watching me shoot must have felt badly for my kid, as they quickly came over to offer me technical advice. Five or six trips to the range prompted me to try my first pheasant hunt in December of 2009. Our lab is not a hunting dog, so we (four year old alongside) decided to try to kick up some birds during a windy snowy winter day. Ninety minutes of not seeing a bird lead to a lot of complaining and criticism from the boy. Two gentlemen and a lady watched our lack of success from afar, and graciously offered to run their dogs for us. I missed the first four birds the dogs raised. Even with the weather, they were all makeable shots that should have met their mark. My wife and I had dinner plans, and I knew the hunt would have to end soon. As we walked to the car, the Brittney Spaniel (Spicy) suddenly darted left down the edge of some tall grasses. Seven or eight determined and vigorous steps put Spicy on point. As I approached the cover, a loud noise followed by a rising rooster startled me. With my gun already mounted, and I started my swing as the bird flew high and quickly to the right. My first shot missed, and I consciously realized that I needed to make the next count. Soon after my second shot, the pheasant tumbled in mid-flight, and hit the ground about one hundred yards from where we were standing. The golden (Jasper) fetched the bird and brought it to me. My son had never been so excited. He insisted on eating the entire bird that evening.
Fourteen months later, we have been fortunate to have been on over a dozen hunts. People have been kind, allowing us the unique experience of hunting over their dogs. My entire family (wife and other son, now four), walk the fields together, appreciating the outdoors like we have never done before. We are now strongly considering adopting a seven year old lab who recently lost his owner. Next year, we plan on traveling to Kansas and Montana to continue the adventure.