March 2021 - 46

WILD COUNTRY DISPATCH

Partners
Story by Tom Reed | Illustration by L. Eslick

I

did not go back there for
a long time. Years. I knew
what was there. I did not
need to see it. Maybe I
was worried about the desert
and what it does to things,
how bones are dug up, sand
and wind scour away rock and
everything eventually gives in
and is gone. Gone.
It was more than that, though. By not
returning there would be progress toward
another way. Ignoring the past, perhaps, while
working on the present. The dog in the grave
at the base of a Big Horn Basin chukar cliff
was from another time.
He may be the best dog I will ever walk the
ground with. Perhaps not. But there will never
be another dog like him. There will never be
another time like his. That I know.
Some would say he was just a dog, but there
are those of us who know the other plane.
That place of which Henry Beston wrote: " In
a world older and more complete than ours
they move finished and complete, gifted with
extensions of the senses we have lost or never
attained, living by voices we shall never hear.
They are not brethren, they are not underlings;
they are other nations, caught with ourselves
in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of
the splendor and travail of the earth. "
There are humans, though, who at a minimum understand the other nation of which
Beston wrote. They may even live there. Perhaps. Many are my friends. People who mostly

46 | March 2021	

hunt because they have a dog, and if they did
not partner with a canine, they would find
no pleasure in walking an autumn field with
a shotgun no matter how much they enjoyed
the taste of roasted pheasant.
The reason is quarry. There is something
different about an animal that lives to hunt
for you, that pursues what you pursue. And
in the art of the hunt, you will often find
the nature of this equation reversed, that you
in fact hunt for the dog. You are caught up
in a mutual joy and drive that sinks deep to
the soul, core, heart, bone and the very cells
that make up a living creature. For those of
us who hunt, this is in our DNA. I am sure
dogs that hunted held a different status in
the ancient nomadic tribes of which we are
rooted than dogs that plodded along at heel,
carrying or pulling loads, eating food and in
the end becoming food. Each type of dog -
the food hunter and the food " on the hoof "
certainly played a role in the survival, but it
was the hunting dog that earned its keep by
living, not dying.
He hunted everything: quail, grouse, pheasant and gray partridge. But he was a chukar
dog. He lived like a chukar dog. There is a
sense of urgency there, perhaps. Maybe not
urgency, but a level of controlled abandon.
Chukar dogs and chukar people have this at
their core. Yes, it is going to be exhausting and
painful and often unpleasant to crawl up that
slope to the top, to scrabble over slide rock,
to fall and bark shins, to ding shotguns and
bloody palms.
He lived like that, full-on, full-bore. When
he died, it felt like my heart went with him
for a few years. I hunted still, with another
setter who was unfortunate enough to come
along after him, like the youngest child who
had been born into a family of war heroes.

A child who had to sit at a checked kitchen
table all his life and hear stories of brothers
he never knew, see the distant pain in his old
man's eyes, and hear the tears in the voice of
the mother his whole life. The other dog was
a good one, but he could never measure.
They say that life is timing. You walk
through it. Sometimes you cross a road just
in the nick of time. Or you get in the market
at just the right time, or get out of it at just
the wrong time. Time. And timing. For the



March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of March 2021

Cover
From the Director
In this issue
A couple pennies
Mailbag
Opening shot
News
Ask Game and Fish
Project profiles
Case files
In the field
Tracking the rarest carnivores
Seeking the slam
A family matter
Getting kids outside
Wild country dispatch
Backpage
March 2021 - Cover
March 2021 - From the Director
March 2021 - In this issue
March 2021 - A couple pennies
March 2021 - Mailbag
March 2021 - Opening shot
March 2021 - 7
March 2021 - News
March 2021 - 9
March 2021 - 10
March 2021 - 11
March 2021 - Ask Game and Fish
March 2021 - Project profiles
March 2021 - Case files
March 2021 - 15
March 2021 - In the field
March 2021 - 17
March 2021 - Tracking the rarest carnivores
March 2021 - 19
March 2021 - 20
March 2021 - 21
March 2021 - 22
March 2021 - 23
March 2021 - 24
March 2021 - 25
March 2021 - Seeking the slam
March 2021 - 27
March 2021 - 28
March 2021 - 29
March 2021 - 30
March 2021 - 31
March 2021 - A family matter
March 2021 - 33
March 2021 - 34
March 2021 - 35
March 2021 - 36
March 2021 - 37
March 2021 - Getting kids outside
March 2021 - 39
March 2021 - 40
March 2021 - 41
March 2021 - 42
March 2021 - 43
March 2021 - 44
March 2021 - 45
March 2021 - Wild country dispatch
March 2021 - 47
March 2021 - Backpage
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/october-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/september-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/august-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/july-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/june-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/may-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/april-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/march-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/february-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/January2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/December2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/September2020
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com