Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The way things are

Summertime is now upon us in a hot way. Most people's behaviors change some when it comes to the hot weather. I'm not a huge water person and the heat seems to slow me down some. So I do what I can to make the most of this time of the year. I spend a lot of time at the pond, throwing sticks for my dogs to retrieve and exercising them. I also spend a lot of time in the higher mountains where the temperatures aren't quite as extreme.
Yesterday, I was on a relaxing hike with the dogs and doing a lot of reminiscing. While the dogs were swimming in a mountain lake, I thought back to the many big game hunts I had been on in these and surrounding mountains. There is no doubt that was a big time in my life. I couldn't wait to get up there with my bow and chase animals as far as my legs would go. 1978 was my first year to hunt with a bow and I shot my first bear three months after I took archery up.

As time went on I became addicted to archery and set a goal to shoot a species of everything possible. Through the years I was fortunate enough to harvest 46 big game animals. I never got the elusive 320 or better elk but I was lucky enough to get a 185 mule deer buck. I was scouting or hunting every moment I could muster up that wasn't taking time away from my family or work.
Luckily for me, my family accompanied me on many of these hunts. I bird hunted and had some good dogs but that wasn't my primary goal. It was big game and it had to be taken with a bow. I even wanted to get a coyote and bobcat.
I put in many extra hours so I could afford to have some taxidermy work done. The work was beautiful and looked great on my walls. They are great conversation pieces and I've spent many hours of reliving the hunts.
Six of my animals would make the Pope and Young club. I know to many, trophy hunting, the same as the numbers game when it comes to bird hunting, turns them off. I can respect those views even though mine might differ a little.
In 1997 things started changing. As I mentioned I had a hunting dog, but he had to share his time with big game hunting. In fact the big game hunting got the better side of this. Rookie was my Brittany, and was a good dog, especially for the lack of time I devoted to him.                                                                     
1996 was the year of my first GSP, Tucker. By 1997 he was a permanent feature at my side. During training and hunting trips he continued to amaze me. I didn't see it coming, but with help from one of my hunting partners, Greg Allen, times were about to change. All of the sudden I couldn't wait for elk season to be over so I could be out chasing chukars with Tucker. By the year 2000 I stopped hunting big game on opening day of chukar season and by 2003 I started spending every free day with my shorthairs.
I've been a very fortunate person throughout life. A great wife, two successful and great kids along with their spouses, four wonderful grandchildren and a host of great hunting dogs and friends. You can't ask for much more happiness than I have had. Sometimes I feel guilty that my priorities haven't been in the right place and then something comes along to open my eyes. In the last year and a half I have had three losses in my life. My father, my best friend (who was also a chukar hunter), and my number one dog. They all had such a positive impact on my life.                                                                                                                                     

Today I picked up a chukar mount for Teresa, the widow of my deceased friend, . They were two of the birds Jeff shot two years ago while we were hunting together. I wanted some pictures of the mount before I took it to Teresa. So I hung it above the fireplace and snapped some shots. The chukar mount was wonderful and it looked great above the fireplace. I looked around at my big game mounts and all of the sudden they had lost their impact. None of them had the meaning of the birds over the fireplace. The chukars had taken over the room.

These birds will soon be going to Teresa's house, but this fall there will be some chukars that will meet the same fate. When they are placed above the fireplace the big game mounts will be moved to the basement. Not because I enjoyed getting them any less than I do the chukars but because that is where I am now. Me, the dogs and the birds. I don't know what's going to happen in the future. Will I keep getting another hunting dog and chase chukars? I might take up fishing or maybe even go back to big game hunting.
Nobody knows the future. Loosing three friends, and especially one before his time, has taught me to live life to it's fullest. Besides my family, what makes my life as full as it possibly can be is chasing chukars with my dogs. For me, that's just the way things are.


Pete said...

Larry, great piece. I enjoyed it, but sorry for your loss.
Interestingly this is the first year in very many that I put in for a deer tag. I started thinking about deer hunting again, and decided to give it a try. Of course chukar hunting is still my primary outdoor obsession, and I doubt deer hunting would ever take over. I've also really gotten into surf fishing with light tackle these past few years (I live at the beach). But as much as I enjoy it, I still can't wait for October to go chase the chuks.

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Pete. I'm with you on the chukars. Just as long as we're doing what we enjoy and not doing what we think will impress others. Here's to looking towards October.