American Hunter - October 2019 - 44

Vermont bird hunter Bob Rose, left, his
Old Hemlock setter, Fionn, and the author head for the truck after a long day.

bad knees. It is rock-strewn, choked with
vegetation, often wet and thoroughly
unforgiving of anyone whose balance has
been impacted by too much birthday cake.
Still, that one who elects to go will from
that point forward be inextricably tethered
to this land; will gladly suffer the indignities
of falls and subsequent scowls from the less
infirmed. That one, year after year, will feel
compelled to embrace the pain of just one
more sojourn. So here I was again, another
year of deterioration to my credit.
That previous year had been quite
agreeable. October weather was pleasant,
demanding little more than a heavy shirt or
light jacket during early mornings. But this
year was different. My hunting companion
Bryce Towsley got a call from our host, Bob
Rose, the evening before our first hunt of
this second trip, and he noted that conditions were suspect. The two-hour drive
Bryce and I would accomplish predawn
the following day would likely show us a
hint of winter. Snow and wind, as it turned
out, were not far up the road.
We met Bob early that day, and after
exchanging pleasantries, began extracting gear from one truck and transferring
it to another. Wool mittens were immediately employed as I quickly became aware
that I was no longer in Mississippi, where
autumn temperatures just two days past

were in the short-sleeve category. Instead,
I was in a land I had become acquainted
with only recently, and one with which I
was and am thoroughly enamored. Not as
rugged as the Brooks Range nor as remote
as Zimbabwe but certainly possessing its
own aura of haunting wildness, it is a wildness that speaks softly but adamantly of
mystique. Adventure well worth the price
of admission was just around the bend.
Q

"D

Q

Q

og on point." Bob's words came
soon after we entered woodcock
cover and brought to mind the first time I
heard him say the same a year back. The
proclamation was a basic acknowledgement and notice to make ready, but it was
more. It was a statement of certainty; a
bird was there. It was a statement filled
with promise, a statement that brought
a curious bump to the heart that already
had an increased rate from the exertion
of crossing streams, negotiating tangles
and gulping frigid air to replenish laboring lungs, that air then expelled in ghostly
puffs of fog that proved cold a reality. The
bird was up and gone before a shotgun
rumbled. No fault of the dog, however.
That dog is a marvel, a gentleman.
Fionn, who answers without pause to Finn,
is of the Old Hemlock breed. His genealogy traces to the work of artist, writer,
october 2019 [

hunter and dog man George Bird Evans,
the leading figure in development of the
Old Hemlock. And while I have not had
extensive exposure to other members of
this breed, it is unthinkable to consider
performance more fully developed than
that found in Fionn. Descriptors of this
canine are unending. But to put it succinctly, he is amazing.
Not far from that first wayward bird,
Fionn located another. There was no
stream crossing required on this one. Bob
outlined a simple plan of who would go
where to assure safety, and we eased into
the point, an image of grandeur in dog flesh
standing there before us. He was much like
a statue, like a painting reminiscent of one
from brushes of the finest artists. Not even
a quiver of excitement, just a rigid stance,
nose lowered, and the definite but inaudible message that the bird was right there
amidst leaf litter meticulously designed to
curtain a woodcock.
And the bird was up, spiraling and zigzagging, his staccato chatter heard even
above the din of gusting winds. At the
outside edge of a young hemlock, the bird
attempted a hard right, but Bryce's shotgun
rumbled. Then a comrade of the downed
bird rose and headed in the direction of
parts unknown, flushing ahead of the dog
on my side maybe 10 yards. He afforded a
right quartering shot, ideal for a lefty such
as I. We had two birds for two shots.
The little shotgun I was using that
morning, though borrowed from Bryce,
was a sibling to the one I use at home for
doves and quail, a Browning Citori 725 in
20-gauge. It is a joy to shoot, and I find it
likes me well enough to do as I ask. But
that delightful Citori, I soon learned, would
be set aside during the next excursion,
replaced by one with more distant history,
this thanks to our host.
Q

B

Q

Q

ob holds a fancy for fine guns,
particularly those with ample age.
Classics if you will. On the last of a
three-bird limit the previous year and precariously close to the end of our hunt, Bob
offered me a true treasure.
"Take your last bird with this," he suggested as he unpacked and handed me
a sidelock Purdey 16-gauge, cylinder/

44 [ americanhunter.org


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American Hunter - October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - October 2019

Contents
American Hunter - October 2019 - Cover1
American Hunter - October 2019 - Cover2
American Hunter - October 2019 - 1
American Hunter - October 2019 - Contents
American Hunter - October 2019 - 3
American Hunter - October 2019 - 4
American Hunter - October 2019 - 5
American Hunter - October 2019 - 6
American Hunter - October 2019 - 7
American Hunter - October 2019 - 8
American Hunter - October 2019 - 9
American Hunter - October 2019 - 10
American Hunter - October 2019 - 11
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American Hunter - October 2019 - 15
American Hunter - October 2019 - 16
American Hunter - October 2019 - 17
American Hunter - October 2019 - 18
American Hunter - October 2019 - 19
American Hunter - October 2019 - 20
American Hunter - October 2019 - 21
American Hunter - October 2019 - 22
American Hunter - October 2019 - 23
American Hunter - October 2019 - 24
American Hunter - October 2019 - 25
American Hunter - October 2019 - 26
American Hunter - October 2019 - 27
American Hunter - October 2019 - 28
American Hunter - October 2019 - 29
American Hunter - October 2019 - 30
American Hunter - October 2019 - 31
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American Hunter - October 2019 - 33
American Hunter - October 2019 - 34
American Hunter - October 2019 - 35
American Hunter - October 2019 - 36
American Hunter - October 2019 - 37
American Hunter - October 2019 - 38
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American Hunter - October 2019 - 40
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American Hunter - October 2019 - 44
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American Hunter - October 2019 - Cover3
American Hunter - October 2019 - Cover4
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