A short time ago I was invited along on a hunt with a few of my co-workers. This hunt especially I was very excited about as I had not been able to get an upland hunt in this year. And being that I was able to get out with some of the people that I work with made it even more exciting.
After spending the morning in the office, we left straight from work and headed out to Otter Creek Hunting Club just outside of Jerseyville IL. After a little more than an hours drive we arrived at the club and was greeted by Roger, a club member who was our dog handler for the day. And also by Joe Cannady the operator of the club. While unloading our gear and getting ready for the hunt it was clear that these are great guys and that Joe is running a top-notch facility. From here the group did the usual razing while changing and getting ready. As you can guess, who will miss the most birds and who brought their .410 along was in that conversation.
After some time at the clubhouse we loaded back up and started driving out to the fields. When we got to the field we pulled out all the shotguns, threw on the upland vests and blaze orange, and then started taking our walk into the field. Out of the gates our dogs, Saddie and Bell, ran a little ahead and seemed to work the fields fast ahead of us. Saddie which was brought by one of the members in our group proved to give us an added advantage. She had many good points and gave the other dog, Bell, many backup points. In the beginning the dogs jumped up a lot of birds and we had plenty of shooting. This certainly slowed down after the initial birds and forced us to be a little more methodical in our searching during the rest of the hunt as we walked the fields looking for the other birds.
For one of the hunters in our group, it was their first time pheasant hunting which only added to the excitement of the hunt. The neat part about this for me was the bond that fellow hunters have. Not only was this the first pheasant hunt for this person, but he was also in from out of town. Between the others in our hunting party we had been able to pool our resources and gear up our fellow hunter with the blaze orange hat, bird vest, field pants, shotgun, and even boots needed for the hunt. The bond of hunters is an odd thing to some. We share in the thrill of the hunt and the enjoyment of the feast. This special bond is what drove our group for example to pool resources and gather the gear and equipment needed to make sure that our pheasant “virgin” would enjoy his first hunt.
During the hunt it was a pleasure to watch the dogs work the field. The dogs made many great points and it was a treat to see the dogs follow each other as they went on point. We even had a few times where we needed the second dog so that we could even see where the original point was due to high brush. Saddie and Bell did fantastic and the hunt was enjoyed by everyone in our party because of the great work the dogs had done.
At the end of the hunt; we geared down, packed up the shotguns, and went to grab a bite to eat. After a celebratory beer for a great afternoon away from the office and a bit to eat the group parted ways. After getting back into the truck and started on my way back home I began looking back at the day. The various stories and jokes told while walking the fields, the dogs running and enjoying what turned out to be a beautiful day, and just the general camaraderie of the group. I drove home with one of those rare feelings that I think we all strive for. Feeling genuinely satisfied with the day knowing you had given it everything you could selflessly. To do what you could to not only help someone enjoy the day, but to give them a lasting memory of a new experience.