You ever wonder what’s in a name? I have tried to name each of my children after someone or something special in my life. My wife and I named our third daughter, Eden Dawn, for reasons that I will share in this story.
If you follow the blog, you will recall that a few weeks ago Eden was sad because she did not get to go hunting with Dad. I made a promise to take her the next weekend, but did not because on Friday a cold front and storm set in which dusted the earth with snow. This hardly seemed like the type of a day to take a four year old out for her first hunt.
Yesterday was different. The forecasts were for a high of sixty-eight degrees, and although the air was crisp, it was not bone chilling as it had been last weekend. I recruited my second daughter, Nessy, to come along with us to help me with little Eden. Of course, we stopped at the local Maverick in the dark for some treats. You can’t take a kid hunting without treats!
As we drove east to our destination, we were rewarded with a stunning view of the sunrise with the mini-Tetons in the background. The view was somewhat tainted by the wind power generators that plagued the horizon. (Double click on the picture to see the Tetons).
I decided to try a wildlife management area which is reputed to hold sharptails for our first hunt. Not having hunted this area before, we found some decent looking cover and began to hike.
After hiking through the thick sage and CRP grass with no birds, Eden began to get tired and teary. Since the object of this hunt was for Eden to have a good time, I decided to put her on my shoulders and carry her the rest of the way back to the car, while Nessy carried my empty shotgun. Back at the car, I asked Eden, “Do you know why we named you Eden Dawn?” Eden responded, “No, Daddy.” “It’s because I love being out in Nature and Dawn is my very favorite time of day. It’s always so hopeful. Every day is a brand new with new opportunities. That’s why Mom and I gave you this name.” I’m not sure that she understood the full meaning of this, but maybe someday she will.
Speaking of hope, as we drove back down the dirt road we had come down, I said out loud, “We need a Roadside Revelation!” For those of you who have not heard this phrase, a Roadside Revelation is when you spy birds from the road, which points to– or “reveals,” if you will–potential new coverts. Over the years, I have found some of my very best hunting spots from this tactic and even wrote an article of the same name that is going to be published soon by The Upland Almanac. Can’t wait!
As if on que, not one minute later did we see a solitary sharptail fly across the road. “That’s a sharptail!” I told the girls in the back seat as I marked him down. “Should we go see if we can find him and some of his friends?” I asked excitedly. “Let’s do it, Dad!” replied the girls.
After we parked and stepped into the CRP, another huge flock of sharptails (i.e. 20 to 30 birds) flushed back across the same road and landed only seventy-five yards or so away from where I had parked. I had them marked down perfectly. I asked Nessy and Eden to stay well behind me so that the gun shot would not scare Eden. Sunny and I quickly set out to where the birds had landed.
I could instantly tell that the scenting conditions were good as Sunny locked up numerous times on point. I kept wondering: Why aren’t the birds flushing? And then about twenty yards ahead, I saw the craning neck and head of a sharptail. “Yah, Yah! Get outta here,” I yelled as if I were driving cattle. Sure enough, a large portion of the flock got the message and flushed. I missed the first one with my bottom barrel, but recovered, and took a closer bird with my top barrel.
After Sunny retrieved the bird, I handed it to Nessy to show Eden and let her carry it back to the car. “Sunny and I are going to see if we can’t get one more for our limit.” Sure enough, within twenty yards, we busted up another group of sharpies and I made a poor shot which wing-tipped the bird. As we approached where the bird went down, it tried to flush, but only got about two feet off the ground. Recognizing the situation, Sunny charged in, tackled the grouse, and made an excellent retrieve. “Good girl, Sunny girl!” I praised.
Eden carried the second bird back to the car where we took pictures of our freshly made memory.
I realize I have made numerous posts this season in which I have addressed the joy of taking kids hunting. I’m sorry if you, the readers, are getting bored with this theme. However, I cannot even begin to describe the richness of these experiences with my own kids. I do not mean to disparage any of my hunting buddies–who are great to be with–but I would rather be in the field with my kids than anyone else. It has added another layer of pleasure to my hunting and fishing that is hard to describe. In honor of my third daughter, to sum up this hunt, it truly was an Eden Dawn to be remembered. I’m glad I kept my promise.