Hunting for Dummies Part 1

At about 9:30 am yesterday, we had about two hours before company arrived for lunch. The house needed some final cleaning, the dishes needed to be washed, a few of us still needed showers.

So why was I out in the yard in my moccasins, a bath towel and nothing else, brandishing my air rifle? Because Michelle had just come inside to announce that we had a grouse in the dooryard.

If it’s true, as they say, that it takes a thief to catch a thief, then it may follow that it takes a dummy to hunt a dummy. I shouldn’t have been out in the yard in just a towel and slippers, but darn it all, this was the first grouse we’d seen on the property in five years! I couldn’t let it get away, and if that meant hunting it in next to nothing, so be it!

First, I needed to cock and load the air rifle. I own a break-barrel model, which means that to cock it, you literally break the weapon over your knee, charging a powerful air piston that will shoot one single pellet at a time. I asked Michelle to keep an eye on the bird while I did this, but she went to corral the cat, so by the time I got outside, the bird had left the perch on which I’d seen it. It was on the ground in the yard itself, and it flew off when I came out the door.

I took a quick look for it, but didn’t find it, so I went inside to get dressed. I hurried back out, and soon found the bird sitting on a branch 20-30 feet above the outhouse. From there, it sat and watched me calmly.

By now, I was so high on adrenaline that my hands shook. I worried about missing, so I drew a bead on the bird’s breast, choosing the larger target. I shot, hit it, but it didn’t even flinch. It sat and watched as I cocked and loaded as fast as I could. I shot it in the chest again, once more without reaction.

I aimed my next shot at its head. This time, it shuddered, then began flapping back and forth along the branch, tottering, but not falling. I quickly reloaded once more, shot it again in the head, and brought it to the ground. I had to fire one more shot to kill it. That’s the last time I’ll hunt grouse with an air rifle. I wanted my .22 by the second shot, but I didn’t dare leave, or call to Michelle to fetch my rifle. I’ll grab it first next time, I promise!

I’d bagged my bird, a nice big sooty grouse (formerly known as blue grouse). What now? I’ll talk about that in tomorrow’s post.

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