Being One of the Guys, part 1

I joined my guys on a hunting weekend. Of course I’ve been on lots of adventures with them, but this just seemed a little more special. I’m not a hunter. I can shoot a gun at a stationary target, but it gets a little scary when its moving. Everybody better duck!

The weekend started early being packed and ready to go by seven a.m. We ate a hearty breakfast at one of our favorite restaurants where I can get a pecan waffle. Can you say “Smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped and country”? Where else can you get a discount for chunky chocolate milk? Outside, Adam and I were intrigued by this sign. We didn’t think they could handle both of us, so we decided not to sign up.

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We arrived at Willow Oak Plantation driving up this beautiful dirt road. On either side were fields, trees, and birds everywhere. With the windows rolled down, we could hear the stream, birds chirping and frogs croaking along the way. Immediately we were relaxed like no where else could.

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I was warned beforehand that I could not under any circumstances pet and go goo-goo over the dogs. They were highly trained dogs and needed to focus on their job.Dang, I thought. I have been known to ruin many a dog in 30 seconds or less. But I would be under my best behavior and not embarrass the guys. That was until we met the dog handler who said that it was just fine, in fact…GREAT if I loved all over his dogs! What-the-what?! Yippee! This is what I do best! (This is a beagle we used the next day. Spaniels were used on the quail hunt, but the pics did not turn out very well.)

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As soon as we arrived, we went quail hunting. Did you know that quail are not native to SC, so they have to go “plant” the birds in high grassy patches. I’m thinking this is kind of cheating, but I was assured that it still depends on the dogs to find the covy and the hunter to be a good shot. Because I was not shooting, I made sure I was behind the shooters, hiding behind a tree and ducking down.

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It was so much fun watching the dogs sniff around like crazy, then BAM! They got into a pointing position. They did not move a muscle until trainer Shane told them to. We had a big black labrador along to help with the flushing of the birds. Once the spaniels pointed, the lab would pounce on the brushy area. Birds would fly out, guns a shooting and dogs barking like crazy! The spaniels would race to retrieve the bird and bring it back to Shane. A few times the birds weren’t fast enough and the black lab would catch them in mid flight. It was so exciting.

It was also very tiring. We walked and walked and walked. We had to follow the dogs wherever they went searching for the quail. The day ended with 28 quail, 4 tired hunters (yes, I consider myself a hunter in thought only) and a delicious dinner by a warm fire.

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Needless to say it was an early night for all of us.

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