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A man and his dog go hunting

January 1, 2019

We both were excited. I had a day off from life and work responsibilities and although not the perfect conditions, we weren’t going to be picky. Short of a deluge of rain and wind, we were going no matter what the weatherman said. Truth be told, we probably still would have gone even if it was raining.

As I pulled the truck off the hard top to the gravel two-track road that leads to the farm, the crunch of the gravel and the splashing of the water when the tires slipped into the soaked mud holes was music to my ears. An afternoon totally free to spend hunting with your buddy on your home hunting grounds is simply a bonus and the afternoon had a certain relaxed, comfortable feel.

We were on a stay-home holiday and I could feel myself smiling as the sun decided to share some of its rays with us through the gray winter sky.

That is what I love about squirrel hunting. The relaxed feel of taking a walk in the woods, a low key, low-pressure day with many of past hunting days being considered successful with either the amount of game taken or simply by filling your lungs with fresh mountain air. Add in your buddy, mine happens to be a mountain feist hunting dog whose passion is finding squirrels and letting me know exactly where they are hiding, and the day afield is magical at worst.

I unlatched the dog box and Boogie was already wagging his tail so hard and fast that his whole body was one big wiggle. He jumped off the tailgate and with a simple command of, “hunt” he was off like a shot in search of his preferred quarry. For those of us who keep hunting dogs, we understand that you never really know what is going to happen when you unsnap the lead from their collar. What we do know is that if you walk behind a hunting dog long enough, you are guaranteed to witness some simply amazing things and learn much about them as well as the targeted species you are in pursuit of.

This the fifth hunting season that Boogie and I have hunted together and I am still learning from him and he is still learning how best to hunt for me. It is a great partnership and friendship.

In fact, this last hunting trip was a new experience for both of us. I sent Boogie into a wood patch adjacent to my farmer neighbor’s hayfield. As I stood in the gravel road leading to the hay field, I heard Boogie start to bark. I knew by the sound and urgency of his barking that he had located and was wanting me to come alongside him quickly. I crossed the barbed wire fence into the woods and worked my way to the tree.

Boogie was barking leaning and looking up the tree and also looking for me while he was barking. In the tip-top of a large white oak tree were two very large squirrels. Boogie had his eyes on the trophy — fox squirrels. He couldn’t wait to show me what he had found.

After I showed him the trophy squirrels, we walked back to the truck as two successful hunters that worked together as a team. It was a great day afield for a couple of hunting buddies — a man and his dog.

Chris Ellis of Fayetteville, W.Va., an outdoorsman and Marshall University graduate, is owner of Ellis Communications, a public relations agency serving the outdoor industry. Contact him at chris@elliscom.net.

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