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Essays, Poems, Thoughts. . .

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This Topic will be different than most.

I propose a Topic where members can post stories they have written, essays, poems or maybe just personal thoughts on what their bird hunting life means to them. It can be about the upcoming fall, or last years hunts, or their dogs, their friends, their mentors or their kids as long as it is upland bird hunting related.


Photos/Illustrations can accompany the essays as long as there aren't too many Photo Essays.


What is different than similar Topics we have had is that ONLY the essays etc will be posted. No wise-acre remarks, critiques or comments pointing out who's they liked better or who is full of BS.


I will delete any and all posts that are not essays, poems, etc., etc. or fall outside these rather nebullous guidelines.


I'm doing this so folks can express or in essence "raise their hand in class" without fear of ridicule or criticism. Members can contact authors through PM or e-mail if they like.


I thought of this because of how tough it can be to be open on a bulletin board. Every word typed is left out there for dissection and opinion as opposed to published magazine articles and even books where the only feedback can be hand-picked Letters To The Editor or a Book Review.


Lets give it a shot. I'll start.

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My Dad wrote this. I hope you duck hunters appreciate it.   The bent-framed, wicker rocker sits empty today since the old duck hunter journeyed on across the bay. His briar black,

Bones: I have two dogs but this evening I only had one bone, a femur or some sort.  So I decided to saw it into two pieces.   Out to the garage I went with both dogs following and obser

THE OLDER I GET   The older I get the more I sit. I sit to fish, on shore and in my boat. My duck blind bench supports my bottom, and a folding camo chair follows me from poth

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The Upland Buzz

We’ve had a slight reprieve from the sweltering weather the last couple of days. I’ve woken to the slightest whiff of a cool breeze. With it came that ever so subtle flush of adrenalin, or was it those natural opiates firing sluggishly, in that section of my brain devoted to memories, or subconscious recollections of fall in the Northeast. I’m starting to get the stirrings of that buzz in my lower chest, and that buzz will become a solid assurance that all is right, when these cool mornings become commonplace, and the leaves begin to turn, and the time of year that consumes me is finally here.

There is a hint of days to come as my potato plants sag under their own weight and pumpkins start to form on the vines and the corn stalks reach chin high. The lawns incessant need to be mowed every few days is waning. The kids are talking of school supplies and new outfits to wear. The scramble to finalize summer trips is getting stressful as the days tick by and commitments for fall bird hunts need to be scribbled onto the calendar in red.

I’m glancing more at my gun cabinet and the dogs are noticing. They are watching me more closely and I can’t whisper any word that resembles “Bird” without them popping to their feet. I don’t dare to grab a gun from the cabinet and swing, or poke in my case, at an imaginary grouse because they might break a leg during the mad scramble to the door. They discovered a brood of woodcock, still together, and they returned from the chase with that wild-eyed look to check on me and then plunged back into the almost impenetrable ground cover. I sometimes wish I could be in there with them, close to the mud and dirt, weaving through the mid-summer salad, snorting and snuffling. I marvel that eleven year old Jessi is as birdy as ever and feel sad too, because her best days are gone by. But seeing young Jake, alert and looking at me for directions, for guidance, is reassuring.

I hope that the ember burning in me will always start to glow when frost covers the grass, and melts by mid-morning and I trust it to continue to burst into flame when the days lengthen and the thought of a flushing grouse or a corkscrewing woodcock comes to mind.

Upland Journal is a place that I hope is welcoming to all bird hunters across the US, Canada and abroad who pursue all manner of game birds. But it was spawned through years of devotion and some would say obsession with these ruffed grouse and woodcock of the Northeast. It’s all I really know.

And I hope that Upland Journal never loses that flavor, that hypnotic sense of fall approaching, and the good times, the good friends, the good dogs and the occasional bird in the vest to help balance the walk back to the truck.

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Ok, here goes nothin'. Hope you don't mind a fish story. This one happens to be true:

The Lucky One

John eased the 16-inch brown back into the slithery twilight blackness of the West Branch and we called it a day. It hadn't been an easy day but the #18 Blue Quills that I had brought with me had eventually done the trick. I had released an 18-incher from the grip of one minutes before John landed his. Earlier in the day we'd managed to fool a few smaller fish with Hendricksons, but the big boys wanted the little flies. John, who was my host for this outing, asked me to return for a couple of days of fishing in early June with a guest of his from the Midwest, Ben, who is a novice fly fisherman. I was invited, ostensibly as a friend, but actually based on the presumption that I knew what I was doing when I fortuitously brought the right flies that day, and that I could help increase Ben's chances for some good luck.

Luck. Now there's an interesting concept; hard to define, let alone fathom. Turn of the century outdoor and religious poet/essayist Henry Van Dyke, in his "Fisherman's Luck" considered luck "an epitome of the gentle art" of fishing, declaring that none can affect their chances for success by any earthly means. "'Tis an affair of luck.", he avers. With all due respect, I beg to differ. There really is no such thing as random coincidence; happenstance; good fortune. There's nothing cosmic nor spiritual that blesses some fishermen but not others. Success comes from managing to be "in the right place at the right time" as a result of an ingrained knowledge, gathered over the course of many experiences - expertise, let's say - that allows some to be "luckier" than others. I had brought the Blue Quills because I had done my homework. And I intended to do the same for Ben's trip. Luck? We make our own luck.

I caught up wih John and Ben on the river the evening of the first day of Ben's visit, hoping to start the trip with a good, hard tug, but the chilly air relegated the Sulfurs we were expecting to another day as nymphs. The evening was not fishless, though, as Ben recounted the story of his first morning on the river for me after dinner:  John, having business in Binghamton, had dropped Ben off at the river with a few generic flies. He'd fished for about four hours in a drenching rain during which, of course, flies don't hatch and fish don't rise, before John came back to rescue him. While stranded in the downpour, Ben had landed two fish over 17 inches and lost two more that were bigger, all on dry flies. I asked John what he caught after joining Ben for the subsequently cloudless afternoon. "Nothing." was his terse reply.

Early the next morning the three of us headed for that same productive stretch where John and I on our previous trip, then Ben yesterday, had caught fish. John's expectations of me as a guide, I knew, were unfounded but his confidence in me made me think that I should be able to repeat the show of prowess as an entomologist that I had the day we had fished the Blue Quills. This morning, a nice hatch of Blue-winged olives, big ones that I was not familiar with, came off and large fish were eating the emergers. I was glad I had tied a bunch of emergers in olive for the trip, after consulting a local hatch chart, as I stalked up on a bulging monster thinking "Piece o' cake".  But pride goeth before the fall, and I became increasingly frustrated by the lack of interest these Catskill fish had in my central New York olives. I tried everything I had that came close to the naturals with no success. John, a pretty seasoned fly fisherman, did the same with the same result. Now Ben, being a novice and, therefore, unrestrained by what you're "sposedta" do, put on a dun that came nowhere close in size or pattern to the natural emergers the fish appeared to be eating. I was standing nearby when he called "Fish on!" and looked his way just as the huge brown that had taken his inappropriate imitation turned a somersault two feet above the surface of the river. The fish tore up and down its home pool, then lunged for the riffles below, with Ben racing after, trying not to let it reach the main current. After a few heroic and breathtaking but futile runs at freedom, Ben finally worked the fish into a pool where, gasping from exhaustion, it could be netted. Having no net, he asked me to do the honors. I secured the prize and the three of us huddled around to admire, measure and release the 21-incher.  

After the release, we headed downstream to another of John's favorite spots and half an hour later, after catching nothing, returned to our vehicles. As I was putting my stuff back in the Jeep I discovered that my net was missing. At Ben's insistence, he and I went back to the scene of the fish-landing where I figured I must have set it aside while we regrouped after the melee. There was no bank where I remembered our having been, only overhanging brush. We searched up and downstream from that point for another half an hour without finding it. Somehow I must have dropped it in the river. Ben said he felt guilty that I lost my net landing his fish and I said, "Don't worry, it wasn't your fault and I never really liked that net anyway." I said it for Ben's sake, but secretly I was heartsick. Not because the net was inherently of any great value, but because it had been a gift from my wife and was a symbol to me of her graciousness in not only accepting that fishing was an important part of my life, but in advocating my pursuit of it. I dreaded having to tell her I lost it.

After reluctantly giving up the search we decided to go back to John's house for a while so that he could do some errands, and to have lunch and rest a little as we had been up early that morning and were feeling a little logy. We ate, then sat around and drank coffee, then napped a little before heading to a fly shop to get the right flies (which it turns out were yellowish-olive Cornuta, not the dark olive flies I had tied) for the hatch we had seen that morning. I knew a spot about a half mile downstream from the fly shop and suggested we try it after we were done shopping. Everyone agreed so we made the ten minute drive down there, suited back up, and hit the river again by about 3 o'clock.

We strung out with about 50 yards between each of us, Ben at the upstream end, then John, then me. Almost immediately, I had a large fish rise to a fly that vaugely matched some small spinners I had seen floating down the river. Unfortunately, I muffed setting the hook, missing my one chance at a fish that day. I waded up to where John was and for the next ten minutes the two of us talked and occasionally cast to sparsely rising fish that ignored one fly after another, one drift after another, until we became discouraged and decided that it had been a waste of time coming to this stretch. We turned toward the bank, quitting, when I saw Ben, still upstream, reach into the water as though he was landing a fish. "Some guys have all the luck", I thought, when suddenly, like Moses come down from the mountain, he turned and held something high up in the air. "Hey Dave", bellowed Ben , "is this your net?" I didn't even have to look. Of course it was. About four miles downstream from where we had landed Ben's big fish, and about four hours later, my net, that  had travelled all that distance finding neither snag nor shore, floated precisely to the spot where Ben stood, at precisely the time that he stood there. The three of us gaped at the net, and at each other, and burst into a collective fit of incredulous laughter. At length, Ben, recovering, said "Let's go. We didn't come here to catch fish, we came to get the net."

On the path back to the truck, we met up with another trio of fishermen who inquired, as fishermen do, "Any luck"? I glanced at Ben and chuckled under my breath. "Luck? Yeah, we had a little luck.", I proclaimed. Perhaps Van Dyke was right that fishing's just luck; perhaps not. But I'm now certain that he was right concerning one thing having to do with this thing called luck - "there are deeper things behind it." I couldn't wait to tell my wife the story.

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Alan Briere

Puppy Breath

Puppy breath is new car smell with silky hair and blue eyes.  What we never know, or don’t allow ourselves to fully comprehend, is that ultimately, we’ll spend less money on the new vehicle!  Well maybe not, but it has to be close; I was afraid to add it up.  

Puppy breath is our heart calling out longingly for the memory of a dog lost too soon, yet we seem forever predisposed to try just once more to transform that tiny lump of purity into our very own personal, best ever.  At the very least, we embrace the opportunity to do it better this time.    

We are never prepared to lose a beloved hunting partner and companion.  Our dogs mysteriously forge a passageway into our hearts that is impossible to trace.  Once they settle in we are done for.  We can never absorb enough of them while they are with us, and we can never get them out of our hearts when they go.

Puppy breath is that nagging poke with a wet nose against your bare legs in the summer.  It’s when the table leg with a brick supporting it, because the bottom three inches is finally chewed completely through; is now just accepted as a part of the decor.  Besides, you hardly ever wore those fleece slippers the pup shredded anyway.  Why exactly do they line those slippers with the same stuff they make dog toys out of?  Puppy breath is a force of nature, and an apparition that fades too soon.

But the memory of that first point on a ruffed grouse still remains enduringly stitched into the fabric of your soul.  You can still see the young pup, its front paws laid across the warm bird uncertain of what comes next, feathers still clinging to the dog’s lips.

Puppy breath is promises of you’re my whole world attentiveness. Tripping over the pup each time you suddenly reverse direction, after you finally recall why you went upstairs in the first place, is the downside of that connection.  Puppy breath is the reassurance of deep sighs as the pup snuggles even more tightly into your leg while you share sofa space, and it’s the smile that creeps across your face while you watch the pup’s feet and lips twitch as it dreams.  It’s never enough to notice it alone.  You have to make certain everyone else in the room is aware that a precious moment is occurring, and secretly you know they must be heartless barbarians not to have noticed on their own.

Puppy breath is fleeting and monumental, satisfying and exasperating.  You only have a brief time to enjoy that period of the pup’s development.  All of a sudden you look down and wonder why you didn’t notice the exact day those eyes changed color, or how the pup could now be standing at knee height next to you rather than even with your ankle.  Just where did those puppy teeth go, and how did this adult dog get here?  

Just one puppy breath at a time.


                                       Alan Briere

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I’m not sure when I first truly fell in love with her.  

When I first saw her, she was anything but beautiful, and when I first held her, I thought, “How can anything this fragile survive?”   I couldn’t take her home right away, but went to visit as much as possible.  

I wouldn’t call her the runt, but when her brothers and sisters were out playing, they would run though the puddles; she went around. Cause for concern there.  

When it came to naming her, it started as Meg but turned into Megs; don’t know why, just easier to say.  It is important a dog’s name should not sound like any command.  A one syllable name is probably better too.  

 Later on, a dog’s character produces many other monikers.  Every day when I come home, I greet her with, “Hello, Sweet Heart.”  “Little baby girl” is another, as is “Sweety Poo.”   “Stinky” (self explanatory).  Also, better if a dog’s a female with these names. Obviously, a bird dog owner needs to be a stable, self-confident person to say these names out loud. “You little shit” is used frequently and remains her most enduring name.  

Basically, she’ll answer to anything.

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I will dive in with both feet.  This is the first of a series of childrens stories that I have been wroking on.

Sophia and Tom Turkey

A short story by John Holt

The sky had a faint rosy-silver glow, and there was a chill in the air this March morning.  We climbed out of the truck at 5 am and we began our silent walk to the spot where we had roosted a flock of Turkeys only ten hours earlier. (image)

Sophia turned 8 years old last winter. This was her first hunt, her first trip in to the woods where it would be about her success. This was her opportunity to apply all she had learned and practiced her first day as a hunter. Today, Sophia would have her first chance to provide for her family, from that which God put on earth to feed all men and women.

We followed our trail markers, the flashlight illuminating each one on our way to the tree. Each step became more cautious and well thought, so as to be as silent as possible.  Sophia did a wonderful job leading us to the tree.  As I watched her set up and place our decoys, I smiled.  In fact, I as I remember this, I must have smiled all the way from the truck.  (Images)

The decoys were set and Sophia settled in beside me by the grand old oak tree that we had chosen. Its massive size would help conceal us from the sharp, piercing eyes of the turkeys. (image)

We had not been sitting long when the turkeys began to gobble on their roost.  When a turkey gobbles in the still of the morning, it thunders through the woods, and your chest shudders like fireworks on the Fourth of July.  I loaded the H&R shotgun we bought just for Sophia to use.  With action closed and the hammer not cocked, I passed the gun to Sophia.  She placed the stock in her shoulder, and set the barrel upon her upraised knee just like we had practiced countless times before. (image)

Not far in the distance, maybe 50meters, we heard the flutters and thuds of the fly down. It was time for us to begin calling softly to the turkeys.  Sophia was using her box call, and I used my mouth call.  GOBBLLLEEEE GOBBLLLLEEEE, a turkey replied. (image)

We continued our soft calls until we saw movement out ahead in the timber.  I reminded Sophia to be silent and even more importantly to be perfectly still.  Turkeys have excellent hearing, but their eyesight is without a doubt their strongest defense. (image)

Sophia raised her hands slowly to take hold of her gun.  Then she whispered "Daddy, can I cock the hammer now?"  No I told her, wait until the turkey is almost to the decoys.  HE moved closer.  "Now" I nodded and Sophia eased the hammer back, and began to take aim. (image

Page 1

Sophia and Tom Turkey

A short story by John Holt

Page 2

That turkey was now eyeing up our decoys, making his final approach.  He was in! He was in our decoy spread!  So excited I could barely contain myself, I called again with my mouth call, and that big tom turkey let go with another GOOBBBLLLEEE! (image)

His head was outstretched and he was mid-gobble when Sophia pulled the trigger.  Her aim perfect and her shot was true.  The turkey lay dead among our decoys.  I lifted my mask, placed a hand on the gun.  I told Sophia to open her gun, and make it safe.  She did, placing it on the ground beside her.  She turned and said "Daddy, I did it!  I got a turkey!"  I hugged her and said "You did a great job, just like we practiced.  You were perfect, and safe.  Now, is your gun safe Sophia?" She nodded. I smiled and said,

"Well, what are you waiting for?  Let’s go see your turkey!"

We walked-well ran, right up to her turkey.  We knelt down beside him and looked him over.  He had a nice beard, about 8 inches.  His spurs looked good and long. He definitely was not a jake, but a full-fledged tom, a great bird by any standard. (image)

When I asked Sophia if she wanted to carry the gun or the bird, she promptly chose the bird.  She carried him over her shoulder beside me nearly all the way to the truck. We relived the moment, talking about how nervous she had been.  How nervous I had been.  And how that turkey had strutted right at the end. (Image)

With our trophy loaded and our gear stowed, we began the drive home.  I asked if we should call Mom and tell her the news. We decided to surprise her.(image)

When we pulled into the driveway, we were the ones who were surprised.  Grandmas, Grandpa, two aunts, two uncles, four cousins, and Mom and little brother Ansel were waiting. ( image)

Uncle Ted had heard the shot from his barn, and he had called ahead in his excitement to let Sophias Mom know of our possible success. (image)

That night after a prayer of thanks, we ate a feast to be remembered for all time.  After supper no one could find Sophia.  We looked all over  no Sophia.  Then a whisper from the back hall… Mom found her girl.  Sophia was fast a sleep on her bed.  It had been a very special day. (image)

Sophia and Tom Turkey

By John Holt

Page 2

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What the h*ll, I'll give it a shot; this one brings in rejection slips from all over!


Sixty years have turned old walnut to satin,

Put nicks and scratches in once-blued steel worn silver;

Sixty years of car fenders and barbed wire and pickup seats,

Thermos coffee lunches spent leaning against trees and fence posts,

Then nestled in an elbow's crook,

Or carried at the ready,

Pushing through brush, plum thickets,

Deep draws of tallgrass cover.

The mystery of a sleeve of worn, oily canvas

In the back of the closet with the rifle and the rods and reels;

The wonder of the engraving:

Birds and dogs and upland landscape.

A 16-bore,

Lovingly ragged,

Run through with the thin steel rod, and always,

With the smell of gun oil and tobacco.

A wear-softened canvas vest with stained game pocket,

Some back loops still holding waxy paper shells from the old days;

Too small over even one wool shirt;

A rip in the back crudely patched with leather to save it for a few more seasons.

See it lying on the back porch beside the muddy boots,

Or hanging on a nail with the ear-flapped cap and coveralls?

I do not shoot it often,

Fighting the urge to be too careful;

A new nick or scratch,

My hands, now, adding patina to the wood.

Wearing the vest now and then, I try to carry it well -

It is my father's gun.

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This is not easy to share this stuff but here goes.......I wrote this poem a while back and since Gray's rejected it you guys are stuck with it.

The Quest of Spring's Arrival

by Jim Mooney

The fly is tied

The line is cast

The cane rod bends just as seasons past

The cast is true

The fly has fooled

The mighty creatures schooled

The struggle begins anew

Man to man

Trout to trout

Trout to man

Man to trout

Fin and limb in sacred bout

Life is the crux of this fray

One seeks meaning

One seeks survival

This is the quest of spring’s arrival

One seeks meaning

One seeks survival

The struggle done

The battle won

Then the solemn release

One is granted survival

One is granted peace


The quest of spring’s arrival


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"It wasn't supposed to end this way" I said to the vet with tears running down my face.  As I stared into Lady's eyes, the memories of what had been all came rushing back.

Lady was a product of a back yard breeding.  No famous names on the pedigree, just the offspring of two of the best hunting Brits I had ever been around.  As with all pups she was full of promise, but unlike most, she kept hers.  She was a fast learner, a natural.  On her first birds she locked up and remained steady and stayed that way throughout her life.  She'd retrieve on land or in water as well as the best of the retriever breeds.

All this is not to say she didn't have her faults.  All dogs have them.  My favorite fault, if one can like them, was her love of box turtles.  She would point them as if a bird was in the cover and after a few moments would bring it to my hand as proud as could be.

Over her nearly fourteen years we spent many days afield.  It didn't matter if it was pheasants in Kansas, grouse in Pa., quail in Tx. or woodcock in La., Lady's home was in the field.  She loved to hunt, not just for herself, but I believe for me.

Lady had grown old.  Age had taken her hearing and most of her sight.  She became a pet, choosing to wander the yard and sleeping on the porch.  I suppose her condition contributed to what was to become my nightmare on that beautiful fall afternoon.  But I don't know.  I also don't know why she decided for the first time to sleep under my wife's car or why I took it, instead of my truck as I always did for the routine run to get the kids at school. But as I backed the car out, I immediately knew things were terribly wrong.  

I looked in her eyes as I picked her up from the drive and knew our time together was nearing the end.  And deep inside I knew, it wasn't supposed to end this way.

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New Hope.

We have all read the stories of a faithful dog being put to rest. The stories tug at you, pushing and pulling your insides until a squirt or two comes from your eyes and you wipe it away quickly so your wife or kids don’t see. You wish you could skip an article or a post on your favorite dog site, you know how it’s going to end, like Old Yeller the pain is inevitable. This is not one of those.

We put Gunnar down in the spring of 2004, on the front porch, with tears and hugs. I laid him under a giant maple, a big old tree that three of us couldn’t reach around. He was 13 years old and the once in a lifetime dog.  A damn good dog, probably better than I deserved. For the next couple weeks I  bummed around the woods with my new pup, Boston, just trying to get through the initial sadness, I knew me and the pup should get started….but the closure wasn’t there. On one of these walks I finally found what I was looking for, a rock. More accurately a Pennsylvania blue stone, it was shaped like a heart and it was the size of a gravestone. I hoofed it back home, hooked up the quad to the trailer and hauled it down to the garage. Now I thought I could probably find someone to do the stone work for me but it didn’t feel right, it would make Gunnar uncomfortable, it would have been pretentious for him.  So I figured to do it myself. Rummaging through the garage I found an assortment of chisels and hammers, chalked out the message and started in like Fred Flintstone. Chink-chink-chink. Hmmmmm It didn’t look too bad so far, in fact for a novice I was happy with my work so far. When I was done I stood it up to see how it looked upright. It was missing something.

I laid it back down, it would come to me.  

Now where is Boston that little varmint, I wondered.  I whistled and he came trotting around the house with something in his mouth.

“Get over here, what have you got” as I reached for it and stroked is puppy ears.

It was a Grouse tail feather.

“Now where in the world did you find that?” I asked

He just sat there with that questioning puppy look and sniffed the stone for a minute.

“I see what your saying now”

That’s what it was missing, a grouse feather. With some more clumsy blows with the hammer and chisel it was done. It was right. I hauled it out to the grave stood it up.

Slowly, ever so slowly the searing pain was being replaced by the empty rock in your stomach feeling. We sat there on the ground, Boss and I and I told him all about the things Gunnar and I  had done. That he had big paws to fill. That if he was going to run with the mountain gods and walk where Gunnar had been he had better be ready to work at it.  I told the little guy how we would get ready for the next hunting season, how he would learn to flush the grouse towards the gun or how he would jump up the woodcock and warned him not to try to catch them in the air.  We chatted about the trips up to VT to stay at camp and how he’ll want to snuggle up on the sleeping bag to stay warm when the fire goes out in the night. I explained the difference in chokes and shot size and lead. He was attentive when I talked about the bears we had to stay away from and he was disbelieving of the moose story I told him. We sat there in the shade for an hour. MJ called and it was time for supper, my knees cracked as I stood and he bounded up ready to fly, to tackle anything, a moose notwithstanding.

“What were you doing out there?” she asked

I hoisted Boss up and held him for her to pet.

"Saying good-bye and putting new hope into words."

Rock on Gunnar……..we’ll never forget you.


and Boston


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My Hunting Buddy

When I picked you up on that sunny afternoon in May.

Our friendship has grown stronger with every passing day.

Watching you run in the tall grass and between the trees.

With style, grace, and a constant willingness to please.

You have a keen knowledge and an eagerness to learn.

Trying to make yourself better with each passing turn.

A devoted friend who stands at my side to matter how upset I get.

If you only knew how you're so much more to me than just a pet.

While you're looking for birds with an overwhelming intensity.

When you stop and point you are a remarkable sight to see.

You just shrug off the disappointment if I miss a bird or two.

As if you try to say "It's ok dad, I''ll just find some more for you."

When you bring a downed bird back your eyes have a gleam.

We are both so proud of each other because we did it as a team.

People can tell me they have hunting buddies that could never be beat.

But I know the best hunter around is lying right here by my feet.

As far as hunting combinations go, there is nothing that can compare.

Than me and Mighty Casey, my fine German Shorthair.

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rich skeweris
well here i set at 4am on upland journal,cant sleep.just want to let you guys know how great this site is to be in touch with so many guys and gals that has the same love for dogs that me and my wife do.we have not been able to have kids and our kids are our dogs.we have 3 kids,jake a new draht.pup 12 weeks old,deutz he is a draht.5 years old and molly an english setter that is going on 15 years old.molly has always been a hardhead,but we love her and always put up with it and joke about it all the time after we figured out we could not do any thing about it.but i still hunted her hard because she loved to hunt so much and she was a pretty fair grouse dog as long as things were done her way,its mollys way or no way.but it dont matter we still loved her the same.we have been to wisconsin,maine,new hampshire in the last 6 years hunting and we always take her along,but she could only hunt about an hour in the morning and the rest of the time my wife would set in the truck and read and wait on me why i hunted deutz.she has arthuritis bad in her joints and we have been giving her medication for it for along time and it seems to help but now she has lost control of her bowels and there dont seem to be anything we can do.we have been putting it off for a good while now because it so hard to do but i know something has to be done real soon,i cant even sleep thinking about it.i have had dogs all my life but this is the first time i have had to face this,and we all know she will be better off,just trying to get enough courage to do it.thank you guys for listening i know alot of you have faced the same.  rich
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Jacob Jesus Escape

A few poems...

chen caerulenscens

black edged snowflakes wheel

kettles of settling wings boil

cropping   tundra   bills


a stitch of days - winter

there are bright clear skies in the darkest times

and songs so sad they make you cry

and songs so sweet they make you sing

and bells   we know not why they ring

these icy winds now plant a kiss of death

but promise with their light that spring will come

these seasons bring more play than one s macbeth

with justice in their days and in their sum



She stirs the river of our shining light,

as quiet birds do gently nod awake,

to call the sun dance, spin away the night,

to call our hearts, those wings that lovers take.

The sky's a river. River is a sky,

one bright with warmth, the other cool and fresh,

reflections deep and luminescence high,

each giving to the other all their best.

A river fills with rain in season's wild.

Grey sky and muddy waters thrash and roil,

but brilliant air will follow like a child,

this life, a tango with our perfect foil.

The atmosphere of love's a spinning stream,

as deep and bright and high as any dream.


pack and pact

there always is that


when the blood rises


takes the breath away

when a wolf barks

like some ghost risen

from yesterday s feast

spilling this hour s broth

into spring s chalice

the bleat of a mother

a buzz of electric bees

spins minutes into forever

my dog is killing the deer

my club is raised high

then at question is the strike

is it one for all

no all are torn in the moment

it comes down on my dog i hit my pack

animal that i am i hate the beast

a mother guards her dead

from the jaws of primordial hoods

child taken from its hiding

left in a glut and the guilt of genes

so mothers die as well as fawns it seems

my dog is covered with broken spring leaves

and the bright red of life s lust

i beat and scream him down

throw him into a box

carry him home

spraying wild

blood of the always damned

from his wirey hair

wondering if it is his

a fawn s a doe s or ours

there s a killer in my home again

i saw him punched by dagger hooves

i saw him tear at one doe s walls

i saw the blood of mother s haunch

her touch and fall to the ground

i saw the bounding tongues

bloody in seeking life

saw hair fill with it

washed of it

killed by its beat

and it was only a few minutes

from quietly seeking morels


surprising and so traumatic

that once home i got a gun

to take to the park in town

to put a poor doe down

but she was gone and i

don t know how to find her trail

know where to go from the crimson ending

i hold my gut

twisted in a horror

that i m sure is not alone

i hold my gun close

and go home

want to point this

at my own pack

my pact not to

do so weakening

wimpering like a pup

i have one morel

and a killer on my hands

a wolf in child s clothing

a lawyer to hire

a gun to use

the real horror is

that my world

has not changed

that my world has not changed

perhaps i have not   but only lived on


to blue veins

the river is blue from the bridge

its gifts carried away

without invading

the simply beautiful

look at the fisherman down on the bank

the wheeling gull  riffles

and fish nipping the air

reading like pursuits  intellectual

the black man with a pole has grey feet

grey feet from the mud and a cat on his line

a big cat on his line and the desire to eat it

no desire for rebirth at the landing

the white bird cries when delighted

when he sees the old bleached man battle

won or lost a war will give up goods

the gull can t smell for a reason

and at the edge of the rippling shallows

an old torn jaw picks up dazed meals

comes up to suck raw air for a damned left gill

steers clear of those shallows without current

and only blue dead eyes see the deep blue skies

the bridge as more than a shimmering edge

the fisherman is blind and the bird looks on

as an old catfish gives to all who come round

to those who look down at the blue reflections

but cannot smell  to one who can t see

and those that can t smell but looks

down at the blues  from above the bridge


boy in the marsh

there s a boy in the marsh

and a dog

one makes the other and the other

makes up

a story waiting to be told

but the boy

about the boy

why is he here

trying to kill small ducks

with no skill but


why am i here

in this dangerous world

why is the dog

so incredibly happy

there s a boy in the marsh

and a man

one turns into the other

makes up

a story that s waiting to be told

but the man s

about the boy

and the young

are just history

why the dog

is not a wild wolf

why am i here

in this dangerous world

and why is the dog

so happy



a day past this head

must be

a green field

a butterfly to watch

and picnics of bright sun s

softest breeze

all the




a simple song

blooming in the cracks

of voices

laughing by mistake

and loving wrongs in earnest

now the time has come

i am gone to find a world

now that i am here

to find a day above time

the where of your day

and where is my world

slipping through

the fingers of this dream

like air and the light of our joy

as you are left in the puddle of this time

drowning without this hand

i cannot leave

for you


sdupit dawg

the rangy hound


up upon my chest

his eyes

it seemed just

dared my words to strike

his tail laughed at my pondering

his test

my laughing at that wag

he seemed to like

this wolf-clothed therapist

can rarely frown

for only just a moment

can he wish

for something more than family

looking down

as joys of life

all daily fill his dish

each joy

in turn


visit this wild pup

to shine

out from his gaze

to calm our world

his unrelenting laughter

fills us up

smiles shaming

as our fruitless goals unfurl

he stitches bonds

he closes bleeding rifts

he shows us love

is our most precious gift


i land and butterfly weeds

talk about


you speak

of the light

on either side

i am a mirror

pressed against a mirror

you are a reminder

that the light s within

the breadth of the warmest sun

i fear

the shards of glass


from reflection


into light

the night

reminding me

of fool games i must play

to live in the worlds that reign   over heart

while my sweet child of smiles and love

playfully taps her grandmother s drum

in my breast waiting for her recess

his prescription of fun of time

for from there she can point

out the monarch drifting

going where the wind blows

a smattering of nectar always

a glide away a soft landing away

and winter is the tree of souls on mountains

waiting to share the eating of milkweed poison

share with each new glistening orb of child

dedicated to this chrysalis changing

watched by a proud lucent husk

and the trophied feathers

of this wisp this light mother s wing


solitaire is dead




no decision

but the fight ended

flying like might herself

the doe lept to escape

but a straight grip

and slug broke

her down

luck would have it

backs would bear

the burden

of her


the hand played

as far from any road

as far lives in these parts

makeshift harness broke

and was repaired

the heart was taken

to a place that s never been

and most red cards turned black as man rust

blood hot as acid stripping metal clean

the heart was taken to new heights

trump is a twenty gauge slug

followed by rounds of decks short eight

but noone there could stop the infinite cheat

that took heathens by their chest ripped

heathen from the breast and dared

to die for the love of life

she is gone from my trembling

i am left to wonder at her flight

i am lost in my trembling

flight from her host

in the bed of my trucking ties

is a body torn from cedars

dragged brushing miles

and driven covered

by a tablecloth

there is only me

placing red on black

and black on red emotion

there is food for mine

and a shaft closed


Wolf River

thinking on hot mississippi days

to scuppernongs hung from old river vines

above the Wolf ripe in its summer blaze

huckleberry mornings cut the haze

to suckle fruit beneath loblolly pines

thinking on hot mississippi days

flowing down to lazy gulf coast bays

times so hot they buzz a crazy mind

above the Wolf ripe in its summer blaze

all flow down to meet the water s gaze

where tea brown swimmers seek out sunfish kind

thinking on hot mississippi days

songs in thickets warblers claim this maze

bright yellow black they flit through locust whines

above the Wolf ripe in its summer blaze

spot tailed minnow eyes in hand all glaze

live silver leaving masters hooked to lines

thinking on hot mississippi days

above the Wolf ripe in its summer blaze


great grandmother tree

at first and at last

i imagine

i speak

as surely i must

being some human freak

recreated in a squirrel form

not so very different from the old me

except that i can t really think

like this

but it is our dream

yes and perhaps i am thinking

as i stare into my old eyes

having lived another life

a good one

in the greening home

of i heard tell

my greatest relations

and their most fantastic days

oh so many generations

in the same oaks and hickories

scrambling in and out of life

in and out of our mother trees

building nests of their leaves

eating and planting their children

safe in their hearts

some always survive

the hawks the snakes the coons and cats

the coyotes the mothers and fathers of all sorts

i myself have eaten birds growing in their egg

and bugs and have gnawed the bones of brethren

killed by brethren

but some always survive

and we are always one

in our dutiful prayer of life

as is the man staring at this body

he has broken with his shell

perhaps i will return

as the bright blue egg

of the thrush that fills

the air and heart

beating its blood

into the ground

and telling our mother

just what it might like to be

someday "I reckon

it will be me, myself.

Yes, it ll be me."

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Boys, boys, boys. I just deleted three posts. The rules from the original Topic Post:

What is different than similar Topics we have had is that ONLY the essays etc will be posted. No wise-acre remarks, critiques or comments pointing out who's they liked better or who is full of BS.

If you like their work or want to compliment authors or ask them something about their piece please contact them through PM or e-mail. The reasoning is simple. Anything offered here is of value, it is not a contest.

Thanks. :)

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M V McDonald

Worth the Wait?

by Mike McDonald

Bird hunters, perhaps more than others, know true suffering as they wait those last few weeks for a new gunning season to begin.  All hunters experience the anxiety it to some degree, but to a bird hunter, particularly one with a new puppy, it is pure torture.  The anticipation and wonder are too much to take and both work and families suffer.

At last opening day arrives and regardless of the weather, the hunter and his young charge head to a special piece of cover – a honey of a spot saved just for this occasion.  Perhaps they will cast a sunny hillside above some forgotten faimly graveyard that is fast becoming part of the cover itself.  Or could an abandon homestead be more perfect - pioneer dreams reduced to gaping cellar holes and sinking stones but with fruit trees gone wild.  Brushy hilltops and over grazed creek bottoms, pasture corners and old clear cuts, are all fine places to introduce young dogs to birds – cherished places … places they learn to love.

A proper beginning, worthy of the long wait, includes one-sided small talk as proprieties are observed.  The hunter dons a shooting vest and fills shell loops, while rummaging for whistles and throwing back the last of his coffee.  The pup, still crated and forced to be patient, observes every movement, with his puzzled eyes and cocked head denoting an intelligence yet to be tested.  Finally, the gate opens for the crowning of official duty – the fitting of a belled collar as blue jays scream trumpets in the background.  The young pup comes alive, excited jitters sensing the “specialness” of the day – earlier and cooler than usual with new sights and sounds, …and unknowns.  A double gun is pulled from its case and the breech opens with a tuning fork “clink.”  The pup halts his tailgate dance, eyes staring, head jerking – “What’s that?” … “Can we go now?”… “Better wait – its too high!”  Last minute instructions, given in soft, meaningful tones to a young brain, are accompanied by bursting incontenance.  Too eager, the pup breaks free and the hunter’s well-intended correction is tempered in a prideful grin.  Giving in to the excitement, the two head off on adventures long anticipated and too long delayed.

The first swing takes them past a woodchuck hole, which is tentatively checked for inhabitants – no one in residence today.  Across a spring seep they trudge to an alder clump where fresh white wash is sure to be found.  After some distance the pup grows cautious, serious business at one end and totally unglued at the other.  Stopping his advance, the hunter watches as the young nose sorts it out, observant for results of a long summer's training.  One false point, then two – first certain, then not – the pup struggles between instinct and lesson, knowing there’s a bird, but where?  Suddenly, "There…right there!"  The pup’s tail shivers to a stop, and he turns to stone.  The gunner moves ahead, speaking not a word lest this holy moment be disturbed.  A mere six feet out a woodcock jumps up, twittering, rising, then angling right.  The pup breaks for three short jumps then stops, eyes locked on the escaping prize - instinct tugging, training holding back.  The gun mount and discharge are instinctive as well, but the report is silent to those focused on the bird.  A puff of feathers and the woodcock drops from the pup’s view.  “Oh no!  Got to find …must find!”  For the hunter, a solid point and a marked bird are miracles enough this day – steady to wing and shot will be saved for another time.

“Dead Bird,” is needless ordered in the direction of the tall, thrashing grass where a bird dog has just been born.  Glorious sounds mingle …a shot’s fading echo, …a frantic bell …and sniffing among the weeds.  Excited movements become more focused, no longer advancing, exchanging frantic pursuit for curiosity found.  Ten lines of royal blood glow in a small head now stretching above the grass, its' face stuffed with feathers, and eyes searching for guidance.  Relieved to find he’s not alone, the newly blooded veteran assumes a confident trot, searching for anyone else who might witness the show.  The hunter lets his pup swing wide, each enjoying his prize, then redirects with a whistle and few steps back.  The pup panicks, “Wait!  Wait, I’m coming …and look what I’ve got!”  As the double gun settles across bended knee, wonderful smoke lingers at the breech and the hunter's ungloved hand reverently accepts what will be the first of many from this "bird dog" standing before him.  

Here is the culmination of planning and breeding - training and waiting.  If only for a moment, the two are alone in their world – sublime in their existence if only for each other.  Need we ask either of them, “Was it worth the wait?”

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