Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Staying positive

Sometimes things come along and turn your life upside down. I know, losing a season of chukar hunting might not mean much to many, but it's like losing a year out of my life. I know God realized that and that's why he steered me to Montana where Jake was born. Before that I couldn't imagine ever chasing chukars without Riley by my side. He was my best companion and we enjoyed the mountains together. I'm sure that if Jake hadn't come along before Riley left, it would have been the end of my chukar career. It hurt that much. But Jake did come along and with that I owe him the same as I owed every other dog I have ever had, to take them up on the mountain and let them do what they were intended to do. Hunt birds.
With only a nine month old pup to hunt with, most people would accept the notion that the year would be fairly unsuccessful. Not me. With all the promise Jake showed early in his life I know more success will come with each hunt. Not so much in birds taken, but in good dog work. As the dog progresses, so will the bird count. Needless to say, as the season has progressed, Jake has already reached the good hunting dog class and quickly becoming a great dog. We've had 16 hunting trips for chukar so far and  another 50 or so should do the trick.
Success depends on birds also. Both for training and good table fair. I must admit that there seem to be fewer birds this year than any of the twenty years since I have been keeping records. At first I didn't want to admit this and figured it might be because my young dog hadn't learned how to find birds yet, even though he knew how to point and hold. But now that Jake has learned to throw that head high into the wind and scent for birds and cover the hillside in search for that scent I am pretty sure something happened to the chukar hatch this year. The positive thing is that each trip seems to produce more finds for Jake, even though the covey's may be smaller. I figure we just have to cover more country to make things happen.
Covering more country has become a problem for me this year. During the Turkey season this year, I tweaked my left knee. The MRI said I needed arthroscopic surgery, so after Riley broke his leg I scheduled the surgery for the same time while Riley was recovering. After the surgery my knee felt so good I got right back on the mountain. It wasn't long before I was limping again. Ibuprofin seemed to help me stay on the mountain at first but it wasn't long before I was back at Dr. Moore's office getting a cortisone shot. It helped some, but it wasn't long before I was supplementing in some pain medication. The second cortisone shot didn't have much effect at all. Pain medication helped me make it through a day on the mountain. Finally 25 days into the chukar season and 12 painful days on the hill with Jake I got a third cortisone shot. That was Oct 15th. Dr. Williams said it would take a couple days to really kick in and if that didn't work we would be back getting another MRI and hopefully be able to arthroscopically fix the injury.
So the next day, Jake and I were up chasing chukars. I have to say it hurt like hell and it was hard to walk up to Jake's points with much enthusiasm. I'd get some relief sitting down and waiting for the retrieve. There is no way to get a hunting dog to sit and relax with you shortly after they have found birds so the rest would be short.
Barb, Jake and I spent the next three days at Brownlee reservoir where we met the Carter clan for a chukar hunt. I was sure that the shot would take effect by then. It was not to be. Each day on the mountain hurt a little more and took more pain meds to get through. Getting to Jakes points in the rocks hurt with each step. Lot's of good things happened on that trip, but knee improvement wasn't one of them. Besides Jake improving even more on the mountain I was pleased to see that he would hunt with other dogs and not want to play grab ass. When we're not hunting Jake likes to play a lot so I wasn't sure if he could separate hunting and playing. After the third day I decided to take Sunday off. My knee hurt so bad I took my first day off that I can ever remember when I was camping in hunting country.
It hasn't quit hurting since. Pain meds knock it down some but it still aches constantly. So the MRI was Monday and I meet with Dr. Williams on Wednesday to see what the next step will be. I'd love to hold off until February but can't quite tough this one out. But no matter what happens, once we get rid of this pain, Jake and I are going to find a way to hunt chukars. Although I'm not much in favor of using four wheeler's, I'll use one if I have to. Who knows, Jake may become so good at holding birds that I can approach them on crutches with my shotgun slung over my shoulder and still get a shot. If nothing else, that would be a success story in itself.
No matter what happens you can bet on Jake and I being on the mountain somehow and finding birds. I hope we have some great stories to tell.


Crazy Uncle Larry said...

I've been through the injury bug, and it's no fun. I hope you and Jake will be able to pounce some more coveys this season. I admire your ethic in this difficult dance, it's not easy under the best of circumstances. Heal up quickly and stay positive.

Anonymous said...

Boy can I relate to you about hunting on crutches.After siting on the couch watching football a couple weekends I did take a crutch and took Mays hunting. I used my four wheeler to follow him up some of the trails but had to get off and drag my leg along when I found a good looking area to hunt. I told my wife I had to go because I felt so guilty not taking Mays out hunting.I know she thinks I'm insane. She went with me last Sun and flushed a bird for us. Good luck with hunting. Glad Jake is doing so well. Keep up the writing. Have crutch will travel.

larry szurgot said...

Alan, I knew you were on crutches. What did you do?
I just got back from the Dr. and it looks like my options are to quit hunting chukars or get a knee replacement.
Jake made that decision easy. We're going to try some more steroids to help get me through the season but Barb wants me to get it done before the years end. I have to live with her also so I might be having the surgery December 31.

jc said...

What is the verdict???

larry szurgot said...

Dr. says if I want to continue my current activities the knee has got to go. So knee replacement will be either December or February. Jake and I are going out this morning to see how much relief the last five days off has provided.