Saturday, August 29, 2009

How a rabbit hunt turned into a hissy fit

I went rabbit hunting this morning to satisfy my increasingly itchy trigger finger, and to see if perhaps I could collect enough bunnies to perfect the recipe I tried with the fruits of my previous labors this summer.

NOTHING was moving.

The air was heavy and thick, and I did not see one little white tail bouncing into a thicket. Usually I persevere, but something told me it would be useless today, so I bailed after a little more than an hour and developed a Plan B on the spot. Read more...
I knew there were other huntable wildlife areas in the vicinity - I'd just gotten a bunch of maps from a guy at the Department of Fish and Game. Perhaps I should check them out - do a little daylight scouting so I could try something new next time I feel like setting an alarm for 0-dark-30.

The problem was, I hadn't brought the maps. But I remembered enough that I should be able to find them using my state map book.


I drove over a bridge, admiring an area that looked like it should be rich in game. But I didn't see any sign that it was huntable public land.

I continued up a road, looking for a side road that I knew should lead to an entrance to a huntable wildlife area, but I never found that road. Oh, I took a bunch of side roads. But none of them was right.

Note to self: Don't expect good signage - bring your maps.

So I returned home and immediately looked at the maps.

Interestingly enough, the first place I'd pulled over to consult my state map book was probably where I should've turned to find the area I was looking for. Dammit! Road sign woulda been nice.

Then I looked at all those maps and came up with another plan: I should compile these into a binder so I always have this information at my fingertips! I could throw it in my car whenever I go on an adventure where plans might need to change last-minute.

So I compiled the binder. And in the process, I found a map that indicated the area I'd admired from a bridge was indeed public and huntable.


Oh well. The binder is glorious. National wildlife refuges and state wildlife areas, and maps, and blind locations, and regulations - everything a girl with a gun needs!

And I can look admiringly at it for the next 56 freaking days while I wait for duck season to begin.

See, that's what I'm waiting for. Yes, I can shoot doves for two weeks starting Tuesday. And yes, I will go out Tuesday morning, and I'll go out again this weekend for the epic Labor Day Hunt and Feast at Michael's place (which, btw, is open to the public for the first time ever - check out details here).

And I'll start hunting rabbits again after the dove hunters are done shootin' up my rabbit place (Sept. 16), but only until the blacktail deer hunters show up (Sept. 26).

And maybe I'll even go on a nice hunting trip this year. I'm being furloughed because of the state budget crisis, and that means I have to take a bunch of days off, and that means for the first and possibly only time on this job, I can schedule a four-day weekend that would allow me to hunt out of state in the fall - you know, out of state, where the whitetail and the antelope play?

Oh, except for the fact that I'm taking a 10 percent pay cut and can't afford a hunt like that.

Dammit, how long is it until duck season? Oh yeah. Fifty-six days.

Ducks, glorious ducks! Cold weather, stormy skies, the stink of neoprene, duck calls, Wind Whackers, many opportunities to shoot, stoning some, chasing others, checking for bling, coming home, pouring bourbon, plucking ducks, drying wet gear by the fire, feasting on duck as Boyfriend begins another season of his legendary Duck Hunter Dinners.

Oh, I can feel it!

But it's 108 degrees on our front porch today, and every time I walk outside my little fantasy bubble bursts, and the sun slaps me silly, and says, "Girl, you ain't even close to needing to pull out those decoys."

I know. I know.

© Holly A. Heyser 2009


Josh said...

I feel it when I get up in the morning. Six o'clock is darker now, and that always gets me going.

Of course, I bowhunt deer, so I've been in the thick of it, too. This weather sure can slap a person around.

As for the lands opportunity, the law says that folks can walk on any land that is not cultivated, posted, or fenced. Of course, we all want to be good neighbors, but, especially in your haunts (wink), that rule of law almost invariably means public land. I would've walked on, and I'll talk about this idea at my 'Lands on the Margin' blog.

Ah, to be a duck hunter. By the way, I looked up the duck seasons for other parts of the country, and found that we are particularly blessed with our 100 or so days. For all the good that does you in August (sorry).

Holly Heyser said...

Ah, yes, the cultivated land... I've seen so many bunnies on the farm side of the levee that I hunt...

Blessed said...

Not to make you jealous or anything :) but we get to hunt teal for a couple of weeks in the middle of September! Then there is early Goose season in October. Hubby is getting excited... I would be too, except that Goose is keeping me home this year. Oh well - I am looking forward to all the stories!

Shewee woman said...

The binder is a great idea, you might even want to add a place to be able to keep a log and write notes about your different hunting experiences. When I fish I use one to log the date, water temp. and weather, and most often where I was catching fish. September 1 starts early goose season here in PA can't wait, I've been practicing on those sporting clays, and early duck is just around the corner. Time to put the rods away and get the boat ready for duck season!

Holly Heyser said...

Man, we don't have any early seasons, unless I want to drive five hours north to catch the opener in our Northeast Zone, which is two weeks before ours.

I'll just keep hunting whatever I can get.

And Blessed, I hope you find a way to get out there somehow. It'd be so good for your soul to get out!

SimplyOutdoors said...

Oh Holly, how I can totally relate. I've been shooting our 3-d course like a mad person, and doing anything to cure the whitetail hunting itch that can't truly be scratched for another month.

We've been checking treestands, trailcams, shooting, and shooting some more, and scouting. But none of it helps.

Hopefully both of us get to scratch that itch soon. I might go insane before then.

sportingdays said...

Shewee Woman is right on. I do the same thing. I keep an old-fashioned binder with all the wildlife refuge maps together with room for notes.

It becomes a valuable resource over the years, especially with duck hunting, as you can review details of a particular blind or a particular shoot, which can help future decision-making. I'll even jot down or print out notes others make from the internet bulletin boards or in casual conversations -- insight about a particular refuge or a particular blind. If I get drawn for a refuge hunt, I go back and look at my notes for the refuge, which helps immeasurably in planning for the hunt.

Unknown said...

I know how you feel for sure. My husband is out for the early goose opener right now. Meanwhile, I'm sitting inside, at work, moping. And it REALLY didn't help when I walked to my car to leave for the office and heard a flurry of gunshots in a nearby field.

I wish I was hunting right now.

Also, the binder idea is a great one! We do something similar, and it's very helpful.