Happy New Year!! Yup. Another year has passed. In many places, another hunting season has passed with it. It's pretty much over here. Small game, upland, and deer seasons all closed in November and December. There is still some waterfowling that can be done, and of course some predator hunting, too. I figure I've got a few days of marsh shivering in my future, and as I've been interested in tipping a coyote over for some time I just might give that a try as well.
The year has been an interesting one, and if you'd have asked me last year what I thought 2011 would have been like I would have been way off. I'd had plans for the year, but mother nature can be a bitch some times, and I basically had to call an audible. If you've been a regular reader you'll know that it was around this time last year that I was dealing with painful lameness in my setter, Austin. Ultimately this lameness, in the form of cancer, took my pal. I found myself dogless for the first time since 1993. But things have a way of working out, and I quickly found a litter of Springer pups, and brought Ginger home. These events proved to be both surprise #1, and surprise #2, and have been a portal to new friendships, and the spaniel communities in the US, Canada, and Britain.
Bringing a pup home, and training it to perform in the field is time consuming. With no remorse intent, I will state now that the time I invested in dog training took away from time afield. I spent less time this year hunting, fishing, shooting, and partaking in any manner of outdoor activity. And none of this lost time is begrudged. Dog training is an investment in the future, and I am certain that it will payoff in spades in the future. Having a high performing dog is important to me, and next season, because of the time I've invested in 2011, that's what I'll have. So, in short, 2011 was the year of the dog. Or at least the year of dog training.
Looking forward I'm planning 2012 carefully. Again I expect the year to be dominated with dog related events. Right now we are continuing our training, and preparing for a field trial in February. I'm certain there will be other field trials and some hunt tests on the calender too. As I've mentioned, I suspect I'll give coyote hunting a try over the winter. The wood lot where I deer hunt has a healthy population of yotes, and a few have been dragged out over the years.
I'm looking forward to being a regular fixture at skeet and sporting clays again, and with Ginger's training coming along so well, I feel I can begin to take a day or two each week for myself. I owe George (remember George? Read Streamside With GW) a few days on the river, and I've been feeling the need to knot up a few leaders with my lousy casting. As for big game hunting; I'm uncertain as to what I'll do this year. Naturally I'll participate in our annual deer drive. This is an event held each December during the muzzleloader season where a contingent from our rugby club, and a few other surley characters get together. Good fun.
No doubt there will be lots of grouse and woodcock hunting. In fact I'm well on my way to having secured the month of October, and half of November free from work. Having a bit of seniority equates to having a bit of vacation time, and I'm lining it up. Preliminary plans see me hunting The Great North Woods for at least a week, and upstate NY for a few days. But this isn't the only travel in the works. I'm trying to arrange to spend a couple weeks in March in Japan. Though I'll need to spend most of my time in the Tokyo/Yokohama area I'm hoping to bring a flyrod along for the trip. There are quite a few good trout streams over there. At a minimum, I'll be bringing a good pair of hiking boots. And, in case you were unaware, there are a few birddog clubs in Japan. I'll be trying to getting touch with them, too, and try to get out to see a few dog training sessions.
I'm sure you've noticed by now that I haven't yet mentioned food. Well I haven't forgotten about food, and I'm planning to bring a few new recipes to ASO. Expect to be challenged, as I throw down some game prepared with a French flare, and maybe even some traditional Indian spices.