With bellies full and the rain slowing to a mist, our minds shifted to helping our new friend Tim in his quest to quiet his neighborhood of that insistent drumming sound! From my own experience of living in a quiet and rural area, I likened the sound to one heard every so often in silence of night to that of some member of the Generation X’s booming bass speakers. Annoying at most, I felt the least we could do was lend the locals a hand and do our best to rouse the source from the immediate area and even place a few on the menu if the gods of good shooting were willing.
Poor Road could not have been better named. Its ruts, sharp rocks, washouts and mud holes surely turned back all but the most adventurous. On our first trip down Kev had mentioned several times his concern for the tires and I was actually surprised at his willingness to venture on that particular thoroughfare again. Thus I thought it best to enter the short side of our destination from Rector Road, only having to ford a small lake where the two roads meet.
A mile or so in I spotted the green posts Tim had mentioned that marked entrance to his camp. I knew we were in the area where our help was needed most. A short distance further I spotted a pine forest’s wood line and trail that looked birdy as hell. We parked the truck and belled the Cockers and down the trail we went, only to realize it was part of a drive that led to another camp. Seeing no posters or trespassing signs I naturally assumed the inhabitants would also appreciate our efforts to rid their quarter of said noise-makers and on we pressed.
Just beyond the set of pines the trail took a downwards slope and we heard the first bird flush with only a glimpse of wing. Another 100 yards and a repeat of the first. With excitement on the rise we held tightly port arms, but another half mile produced only a single poster that declared some hunting club had rights to the area. Not being sure they wanted or needed our help, we ventured only far enough into the area to make sure that in fact this club was not harboring the delinquents of our quest. Satisfied that this was not in fact the secret hideout of every unrelenting drummer in the district, we returned on the trail from which we came. Relaxed in mind that we had at least roused a few from the area for our friend, we were much surprised by the sounds of at least four more taking to flight and cursed the foliage that covered their escape.
Quite damp and tired, we loaded the hounds and ourselves into the big black suburban and once again my trigger finger twitched at the button to activate the heated leather seat. Light rain now filled the air, I vowed that was the last cover of the day as we slowly made our way back toward the warmth of our cabin at Tuggers Bar & Restaurant. With the adrenalin of the last flushes pumping in our veins, I dreamt of a return to that trail, and pledged allegiance to all living there that I would soon thin the population of the pesky drummers of Poor Road.
Feeling frustrated at our sad performance for the day, the fact that we would pass one of my favorite coverts on the way home struck me. Since it had been previously been named “The End of the Day Covert”, I had no choice but to dig deep inside (actually not that deep, as the little spot has never failed to produce a flush) and mention to Kev that I knew of a short hunt where we may redeem ourselves and perhaps at the very least add one bird to our very thin bag.
With light fading my partner hit the gas and we pulled along the roadside in what seemed like seconds. Loads stuffed in our doubles, we slipped into the cover on the north side of Gardner Road. A small sluice lined with alder gave way to a raspberry- and goldenrod-lined narrow strip of hawthorn, only to be bordered by mature pines studded with dwarf spruce. All of this in just a 200 yard stalk, this was the perfect covert.
Checking the ground as soon as I entered the thorns, I noticed the dim red crab apples that my quarry loves so much. I knew things were about to explode any second as I clutched my Ithaca two-barrel with both hands. Tighter than a watch spring, I watched Mazie’s tail signal that the flush was imminent and suddenly there it went – black ban on broad tail, 20 yards, lifting like a rocket from the spinney berries. Up came the double with lighting speed and focus on bird, but as the butt touched shoulder, wet gloved thumb slid over safety and no shot was fired. I watched in the agony of defeat as both wings, tail, and full sight of body slipped safely away from the thicket. With a smile I bid him good- bye, for on this eve it was his luck not mine that foretold the love between this bird hunter and the king of game birds.
Dear reader, We had hunted hard for two days as the impending forecast was 100% rain on the third. I will not bore you with our leaving the Tug the next day in bright sunshine. Our clothes were damp, boots wet and dogs semi-tired (got to place the blame of old age anywhere but where it belongs). We did hunt for a few hours, but with our flames of energy dimming we resolved to descend the Hill, lessons learned and hearts full, we planned our return all the way home.
To return to part three, click here.