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“Well folks, it is that time year again. Pheasant season is right around the corner and business is great. This story comes from a good friend, Mike.....errrr...I mean Art, but anyways, I am still laughing. Oh, one more thing tell me you read this story and the coffee is on me. We will have a laugh!

Have a great hunt!" Joe, at the Egg Shell.

To protect the innocent (me), I have changed my name to Art. This is to prevent my friends from further ridiculing me. Hopefully, they have forgotten about my ineptness and moved on.

 

It was mid-October in Michigan when the leaves are changing colors, the air is crisp, fresh apples abound and the opening day of pheasant season will soon arrive.

 

To be honest, pheasant hunting is my favorite type hunting. Sure, I like to deer hunt, but with hunting pheasants you don’t have to be quiet or still. I can march right through a corn field with my retriever and not worry about scaring the deer off.

 

Opening day of pheasant season is still exciting to me. When I was in high school we actually got opening day off from school. My excitement has never wavered since those days.

 

It was the night before opening day. I had filled up my truck with gas earlier that day in anticipation of this great day. I fed Lucky (my golden retriever) while my wonderful wife made sandwiches for my adventure. I packed everything in my truck except for my trusty autoloader and shells.

 

My wife decided that I should sleep on the sofa instead of in our bedroom since during the first few years of our marriage she suffered from me being so excited that I couldn’t sleep. When I can’t sleep, I tend to ask her questions like “What do you think the weather will really be like tomorrow?” or “Should I take the autoloader or my over and under?” Finally, in desperation to get some sleep, she puts the pillow over her head and points to the door.  So after 15 years of marriage, this works for us.

 

I took out the travel alarm and my blanket and headed for the sofa. Hurriedly, I set the travel alarm for 4:30 a.m., and laid down on the sofa.  I pulled the blanket over my head. After a couple of hours of restless excitement, I finally drifted off to sleep.

 

I woke with a dreaded feeling that something was terribly wrong. I glanced at my watch.  It read 5:30 am. "I can’t be late," I thought to myself as I jumped off the sofa, pulled on my hunting pants, and headed for the kitchen. My wife heard the commotion and came to my rescue. “You’re late,” she said as she appeared in the kitchen. “Go get your hunting coat, put your boots on, and grab your shotgun.”

 

I ran through the house to my man cave (actually it is a spare bedroom that I store my guns and hunting clothes in, but man cave sounds more manly). Quickly, I threw my hunting coat on, grabbed my autoloader and grabbed a couple of handfuls of shells from the gun safe then stuffed them in the pockets of my hunting coat.

 

Headed for the door, I glanced at my watch which read 5:45 a.m. I just might make the farm before first light.

 

My wife handed me a travel mug full of coffee and some toast as I kissed her goodbye and sprinted for my truck. I locked my shotgun in the gun rack then headed down the driveway.  “Wait a minute, something is missing,” I thought as I drove down the driveway to the highway…”Lucky… I forgot Lucky,” I thought to myself as I put the truck in reverse.

 
Back at the house, I jumped out of the truck and there was my wife with Lucky on his leash waiting for me. “Thank you,” I said as I grabbed the leash from her. “You're welcome and good luck,” she replied, as I opened the cab door for Lucky to jump in.

 

Lucky looked over at me with an ear-to-ear grin.  As I put the window down, he stuck his head out the window. I could tell he was thinking "It is about time I got to sit up here rather in that box in the back of the pickup."

 

The early morning air was rushing in the windows as we drove past the Egg Shell diner. The parking lot was pretty empty since any pheasant hunter in his right mind was either in-route to his favorite hunting spot or already there. 

 

I quickly checked my watch.  It read 6:25 a.m. The guys are already there, I thought to myself. “We will make before first light, Lucky” I told my dog. Lucky just looked at me and yawned.

 

There it was, the Meriwether farm.  I quickly pulled onto the side of the road that leads to the corn fields, old apple orchards and fields.  Mel Meriwether was standing by the gate as I drove up. “Hi! Arthur! Running a little late are we?” he asked. "Yes, the dumb travel alarm didn’t go off,” I replied. “Yup, I figured as much since you haven’t been late for opening day since….. ever. I left the back gate open for you and you should be able to make first light with about ten minutes to spare. You better hurry since Tricia and I are looking forward to some pheasant dinners.” “Thanks, Mel” I said as I put the truck back into gear.

 

Pulling up behind Stan’s pickup, I could see everyone was standing outside ready to enter the field. “Well, it is about time you showed up,” Stan said as I walked up. “You missed a good breakfast at the Egg Shell,” stated Bill while he glanced down at his watch. “We had the annual draw to see where everyone would start the drive from and we put your name in it even if you weren’t at breakfast.  You, Stan, Bill and I will drive first while Bret, Mike and Joe will be standing,” said Chris. I looked down the edge of the stubble field and just barely made out three figures headed to far end of the field.

 

We quickly spread out across field. It was a beautiful morning with the sun coming up and you could hear a cock pheasant cackling somewhere out in the field.

 

I released Lucky from his leash and off he took through the field in front of Stan and I.  Suddenly, a rooster erupted from the field ten yards away. I raised my shotgun. Boom, a miss, Boom, Boom two more misses. I just shook my head as I looked over at Stan. He just shrugged his shoulders and continued on. Then a rooster and a hen flew out in front of him and with one shot the rooster came falling out of the sky. Lucky picked up the bird and brought it over to Stan.

 

Two roosters went up in front of Chris and Bill and both were quickly on the ground. I could hear shooting on the far end of the field as Bret, Mike and Joe connected.  Another rooster took flight twenty yards away in front of me. This time I shot 4 times and didn’t even hit a tail feather. Lucky came up to me, sat down, and gave me that you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me look and Stan just said “Perhaps, Art, you should have brought the over and under.” 

 

We reached the end of the field and took a rooster count. Bret had his limit of two and everyone else had one a piece, except for me. The next drive would be through an old over grown apple orchard. Since Bret had his limit, he would drive and I would watch this time. Hurriedly, we walked along the irrigation dish to the end of the old apple orchard. Lucky was with Stan.

 

Suddenly, two roosters glided by me.  Quickly, I raised my shotgun and fired four shots.  I missed, so Chris took aim and dumped one of the roosters.

 

At the end of this drive, the count showed that everyone had their limit except for me. I felt like an outcast because in the past I was usually the first one to limit out with birds.

 

“Well, Art what would you like to do?” asked Stan. I glanced at my watch it read 10:30 a.m. “Go back to the truck and have some coffee and sandwiches,” I replied.

 

Bret and Mike came up to me and said, “Sorry, Art just a bad day.”

 

Back at the trucks, I gave Lucky a snack and some water then walked back to where my buddies were gathered around. “So what kind of shells are you shooting, Art?” asked Bill. “I am using 7 ½’s and 4’s,” I replied while fumbling with the last two shells in my pocket.

 

I pulled out my shells and looked at them. Something wasn’t right, they read 00.  Something was terribly wrong; these weren’t shot shells these were buck shot! Quickly, I shoved the shells back into my coat pocket. However, I wasn’t quick enough. “Let’s see those shells,” Mike asked suspiciously.  “They’re just regular old shot gun shells,” I replied. “Hmmm, I just want to take a look at them so I’ll know what not to buy. Those shells sure missed a lot of birds,” said Stan. “I load my own,” I said. “Then maybe you should buy some,” stated Stan.  After that everyone went to their truck to grab lunch and coffee. Unbeknownst to me, one of those shells fell out of my pocket when I bent over to give Lucky some water.

 

At that point, Chris’ dog Betsy saw it fall out of my pocket. Well, she is a retriever, so she headed right to Chris with it in her mouth. I tried calling her but she just didn’t listen. Chris looked at the shell then started laughing. “Hey, guys look what Art was trying to shoot those pheasants with,” Chris stated loudly.

 

Well, I took a lot of kidding the rest of the afternoon. However, Stan was nice to lend me some of his shells so I did manage to get a bird.

 

When I told my wife my story she just shook her head laughed and said, “There is always next Saturday.” 

 

 





          Remember to always but always watch your back tracks………………………………….