American Hunter - December 2012 - 36

openingday
Powered

By Ram

By Jim Casada

T

he final chapter of Robert Ruark's
wonderful book The Old Man and
the Boy carries the title "But Not on
Opening Day." Much as the book
must be reckoned among the finest outdoor works ever written, so must it
move anyone enamored with canine wizardry, flying feathers and the heady aroma
of burnt gunpowder. The "Old Man," Ruark's
grandfather, knows he is dying of cancer
and shares the sad news with his adoring
understudy and companion in countless
days afield. Grief stricken, "The Boy," in the
probing fashion of adolescents, chokes away
tears and confronts the impending death
of his mentor with an array of questions.
The Old Man, ever full of wit and wisdom,
simply tells his grandson to "leave it," then
adds: "I promise you, on my word of honor,
I won't die on the opening day of the bird
season." It was a promise he kept, and the
message conveyed by this poignant episode
goes straight to the heart of the bird-hunting
experience.
For those whose roots run deep in the
Southern soil, the term "bird" has only
one meaning. It may have synonyms
such as bobwhite, Mr. Bob, partridge,

pottiges or quail, but when a sportsman speaks of going bird hunting, he is
focused exclusively on dealings with what
the unofficial poet laureate of the quail,
Havilah Babcock, characterized as "five
ounces of feathered dynamite." Bird hunters anticipate the arrival of opening day,
usually somewhere on the cusp between
fall and winter, with all the eagerness of a
youngster awaiting Christmas.
The allure of the diminutive resident
of peafield corners and overgrown fencerows, of longleaf pines towering above
golden broomsedge and thick hedgerows,
may seem strange or even alien to some. If
so, they have never known the heart-stopping beauty of lean pointers working their
way through a morning field sparkling
with a million sun-touched diamonds
of frost; they have yet to experience the
soul-moving grandeur of a staunch point
on a covey at day's end. Yet no doubt, the
appeal of bird hunting is as enduring as
it is endearing. As Robert Ruark rightly
suggested, "I never knew a man who
hunted quail that didn't come out of it a
little politer by comparison."
There's no sensation that quite matches
the wondrous uncertainty involved in
approaching pointers locked tight as the
  ❘

scent of birds fills their senses to overflowing. Babcock got it exactly right when he
suggested that "the tense second before
a whopping covey explodes is the most
nerve-wracking silence in history," and small
wonder he chose a telling title for one of his
books, My Health Is Better in November.
Opening day of quail season does
improve one's health. It puts spring in an
old man's step and brings a renewed sense of
joy to those of any age fortunate enough to
know the myriad pleasures associated with
this genteel, tradition-laden sport. Weeks of
preparation in forms such as dog training
sessions, honing wingshooting skills and
lovingly cleaning a trusty old Americanmade side-by-side such as a Parker or Fox
all come to meaningful fruition when that
glad morning arrives. Babcock, with his
inimitable way with words, once reckoned
that a fine pointing dog that also retrieved
in a most satisfying fashion was "the lace
on a bride's pajamas." If so, then assuredly
each new opening day, each renewal of
those wonderful rites involving a man, his
gun, dogs and the prince of game birds, is
an ever returning honeymoon.
To learn more about Jim Casada's writing or to receive his free monthly e-newsletter, visit jimcasadaoutdoors.com.

 ❘ .

Photo: DusanSmetana.com

Feathered Dynamite


http://www.DusanSmetana.com http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com http://www.americanhunter.org

American Hunter - December 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - December 2012

American Hunter - December 2012 - 1
American Hunter - December 2012 - 2
American Hunter - December 2012 - 3
American Hunter - December 2012 - 4
American Hunter - December 2012 - 5
American Hunter - December 2012 - 6
American Hunter - December 2012 - 7
American Hunter - December 2012 - 8
American Hunter - December 2012 - 9
American Hunter - December 2012 - 10
American Hunter - December 2012 - 11
American Hunter - December 2012 - 12
American Hunter - December 2012 - 13
American Hunter - December 2012 - 14
American Hunter - December 2012 - 15
American Hunter - December 2012 - 16
American Hunter - December 2012 - 17
American Hunter - December 2012 - 18
American Hunter - December 2012 - 19
American Hunter - December 2012 - 20
American Hunter - December 2012 - 21
American Hunter - December 2012 - 22
American Hunter - December 2012 - 23
American Hunter - December 2012 - 24
American Hunter - December 2012 - 25
American Hunter - December 2012 - 26
American Hunter - December 2012 - 27
American Hunter - December 2012 - 28
American Hunter - December 2012 - 29
American Hunter - December 2012 - 30
American Hunter - December 2012 - 31
American Hunter - December 2012 - 32
American Hunter - December 2012 - 33
American Hunter - December 2012 - 34
American Hunter - December 2012 - 35
American Hunter - December 2012 - 36
American Hunter - December 2012 - 37
American Hunter - December 2012 - 38
American Hunter - December 2012 - 39
American Hunter - December 2012 - 40
American Hunter - December 2012 - 41
American Hunter - December 2012 - 42
American Hunter - December 2012 - 43
American Hunter - December 2012 - 44
American Hunter - December 2012 - 45
American Hunter - December 2012 - 46
American Hunter - December 2012 - 47
American Hunter - December 2012 - 48
American Hunter - December 2012 - 49
American Hunter - December 2012 - 50
American Hunter - December 2012 - 51
American Hunter - December 2012 - 52
American Hunter - December 2012 - 53
American Hunter - December 2012 - 54
American Hunter - December 2012 - 55
American Hunter - December 2012 - 56
American Hunter - December 2012 - 57
American Hunter - December 2012 - 58
American Hunter - December 2012 - 59
American Hunter - December 2012 - 60
American Hunter - December 2012 - 61
American Hunter - December 2012 - 62
American Hunter - December 2012 - 63
American Hunter - December 2012 - 64
American Hunter - December 2012 - 65
American Hunter - December 2012 - 66
American Hunter - December 2012 - 67
American Hunter - December 2012 - 68
American Hunter - December 2012 - 69
American Hunter - December 2012 - 70
American Hunter - December 2012 - 71
American Hunter - December 2012 - 72
American Hunter - December 2012 - 73
American Hunter - December 2012 - 74
American Hunter - December 2012 - 75
American Hunter - December 2012 - 76
American Hunter - December 2012 - 77
American Hunter - December 2012 - 78
American Hunter - December 2012 - 79
American Hunter - December 2012 - 80
American Hunter - December 2012 - 81
American Hunter - December 2012 - 82
American Hunter - December 2012 - 83
American Hunter - December 2012 - 84
American Hunter - December 2012 - 85
American Hunter - December 2012 - 86
American Hunter - December 2012 - 87
American Hunter - December 2012 - 88
American Hunter - December 2012 - 89
American Hunter - December 2012 - 90
American Hunter - December 2012 - 91
American Hunter - December 2012 - 92
American Hunter - December 2012 - 93
American Hunter - December 2012 - 94
American Hunter - December 2012 - 95
American Hunter - December 2012 - 96
American Hunter - December 2012 - 97
American Hunter - December 2012 - 98
American Hunter - December 2012 - 99
American Hunter - December 2012 - 100
American Hunter - December 2012 - 101
American Hunter - December 2012 - 102
American Hunter - December 2012 - 103
American Hunter - December 2012 - 104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_20200607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_202001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201907
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201906
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201905
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201904
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201903
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201902
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201901
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201812
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201811
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201810
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201808
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201807
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201806
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201805
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201804
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201803
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201802
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201801
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201712
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201711
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201710
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201709
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201706
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201705
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201704
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201703
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201702
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201701
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201611
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201610
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201609
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201608
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201606
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201605
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201604
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201603
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201602
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201601
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201512
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201511
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201510
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201509
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201508
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201507
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201505
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201504
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201503
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201502
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201501
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201412
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201411
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201410
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201409
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201408
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201407
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201406
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201404
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201403
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201402
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201401
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201311
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201310
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201309
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201308
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201307
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201306
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201305
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201303
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201302
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201301
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201212
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201211
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201210
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201209
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201208
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201207
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201206
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201205
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201204
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201202
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201111
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201110
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201109
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201108
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201107
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201106
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201105
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201103
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201101
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_201001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ah_200907
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com