Buddy—A Series Of Adventures—Like A Bike

She first called the day I was packing for Leech with the girls. Thought I’d try a little deer hunting in those big woods.  It’s been difficult to go through the most glorious time of the year without you, Buddy.  Time in the woods with my bow would do me good.  Time in the gazebo thinking about you would be good, too.  I miss you so much, my boy.

“Hey, Patty, I was thinking on a little bird hunting. Wanna go?”  She asked.

And that was all it took. I fought hard to hold back the tears.  Hard.  Loral I is a good friend.  She is all about business with dogs.  I didn’t want to appear weak and cry.  Dogs die.  That’s life.  Get over it, right?  Well not so much for me.

So there was this long horrible silence as she waited for me to say “yeah, hell yeah, let’s go!” But I couldn’t.  I just couldn’t.

“I don’t have a dog.” I squeaked out on tightly held breath.

“What? What happened to Buddy?  Did you loose him?”

“Um, yes.” I forced out.  “Yes, on Labor Day.” I could feel my head pounding and the floor rushing up to meet me, so I quickly sat down, holding back hot tears and minimal composure.

Another long, horrible silence.

“Well that is too bad. He was a great dog.  You really did a good job with him.  But, I got dogs.  Lots of dogs. They need to hunt.  Let’s go!”

Buddy, I sat there trying to imagine going out without you. I couldn’t.  Just couldn’t.  You and I had countless great times hunting with Loral I and her various dogs.

“Um, but I’m heading out of town for a couple weeks, then I’ll see.” Ah, the perfect excuse.

Half way through my stay at Leech she called again.

“So, when you coming back? I got 7 dogs I gotta work, and I need your help!  Let’s go!”

And that was all it took. I fought hard to hold back the tears.  Hard.  Loral I is a good friend.  And truthfully, she is the only other human that I have the good fortune to hunt with for years.  Season after season of hunting alone, throws such a bittersweet twist to my passion for the outdoors.   Just the fact that she want’s to hunt with me, makes me cry with gratitude.

I can’t lie to her.

“I don’t think I can, Loral I. I, I, I just don’t know.”

Sure you can. It’s like riding a bike.  Buddy would want you to get back out there.  Let’s go next week.  You’re back then, right?”

“Okay.” I responded with a heavy sigh.

The next week I walked and walked trails, 3 miles to my stand, 3 miles back and the last time I came out of the woods I found squatters right on my trail. Good grief.  It was time to go home.  I packed up the girls and headed south.  I was barely unpacked before the phone rang.

“So, I can get us a field on Thursday afternoon. Does that work?”

And that was all it took. I fought hard to hold back the tears.  Hard.  Loral I is a good friend.  Clearly she thinks I am in crisis.  Maybe I am.  I can’t bear not having you with me, Buddy. But the fact that this accomplished, amazing woman cares enough about me to bug me this hard, well it means more than I can say.

“Okay.” I respond with a heavy sigh.  And I spend the next 2 days gathering up my bird gear, looking at your bird gear, crying about bird gear, and curling up on the futon in an emotional pile with the girls.  Your collar has remained wrapped around my right ankle since you passed.  I can’t imagine removing it so my boot will fit.  But I have to…I have to break that connection.

When I arrived to her house, we spent half an hour loading up dogs. She had 7 in mind to bring, ranging from 8 months to 3 years old.  Some labs, some pointers, all amazing.  The first dog we worked was an 8 month old tank of a lab—his name was Chocko.  The sheer joy he displayed romping through the field was infectious! I threw pigeons, and watched her work with him to figure out how to track.  We proceeded with Reggan, and Eva.

Then it was time to canvass a field that had actual pheasants in it. We had Topper and Lola out.  Topper was on my side of the field, bounding through tall grass.  A bird flew up right in front of me and I couldn’t even raise the gun.  It would have been an easy shot, but my head wasn’t in the game.  I turned away to the open field, hot tears falling behind my shooting glasses.  Topper was not you, Buddy.  I stood there, weeping, embarrassed, afraid I was doomed.  It happened again, and again, and again.  Thank goodness I’m hunting with an International Trap Shooting Champion.  Loral I covered me over and over in my pathetic frame of mind.

She didn’t say a word, either, about my gross inability. I just shot and shot and missed and missed, until I was reaching for another box of shells.  It was a long afternoon.

Then we went back to the trailer and took out Pistol and Ice; a couple of 3 year old pointers with stark white and black speckled short hair. Buddy, I’m pretty sure you hunted with them when they were mere puppies, showing them the ropes.  They moved like liquid silver, especially Ice.  Their boundless energy, long tails wagging, and serious nose commitment to the ground felt like home.  They both ran to my side, flanking me as if they wanted to guide me.  We headed down the field with Loral I off to the far left.  Then they both froze in place. I stepped ahead and a rooster flew up in front of me. FirstBirds2014

“BOOM!”

It spiraled to the ground and both dogs ran for the fetch. I became anxious, wondering if they would find the bird the way you can find the bird. Rule number one, trust the dog, it’s what they do.

Yeah, Loral I is right, it’s like riding a bike.

Apparently, I’ve been cured. Thanks, Ice and Pistol.  And endless thanks to you, dear Loral I, for making me get back on that bike.  I am so grateful for our friendship.  Can’t wait to go again!

Buddy Boy McBrady
Gone Forever Bird Hunting as of Monday, Sept 1st 2014 at 3:30 pm
“Find us some good fields up there, boy, and I will see you again soon.”

 

You can read all about my boy… there are lots of stories under “Buddy – A Series of Adventures” in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”. Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our journey together, and PR Brady AdVentures.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. My eyes are teary. I’ve read a few of your Buddy stories, I can so see him in my mind’s eye and I can imagine how hard it must be without him. He wasn’t with you on that hunt and he was with you, anyway. Lots of love

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