Buddy and I were wandering the sage behind our place, me admiring the incredible weather and he searching the brush for sage rats. Then he simply glided to a stop, pointed, and before I could compliment him a pheasant hen flushed. Not one to ignore providence, I marked it down and we flushed it twice more before it disappeared into our rural subdivision.
Yes, it was the wrong place for a pheasant, and we’ve been puzzling over that question all afternoon. But it was also an echo bouncing back at me after 25 years.
I’d moved here because it was between two of the best trout streams in the west. My weekends were mapped out for the foreseeable decade, casting to wild rainbows until my elbows gave out or darkness set in. My tying kit was set up, waders were hung by the garage door, awaiting their baptism.
My rods were hardly unpacked when I lost the argument and we were getting a dog. I was awarded the consolation prize and got to pick the breed. So when we saw a fuzzy, dog-shaped beard and eyebrows in the back of a parked pickup truck, we were committed.
That dog was pregnant and her owner was a long-lost sorority sister of my wife’s. A few weeks later we were the proud owners of Bill, a chubby ball of wiry fluff. He soon graduated from waddling, to streaking across the prairie hell-bent for election.
Then came the day he zigzagged in front of us, leaping the sage until he slammed on the brakes. I wondered aloud about the tail pointing skyward, the front foot lifting elegantly. But before I could answer the questions in my mind, a commotion signaled the rise of a pheasant hen. I soon bought a shotgun, and as you well know am still learning how to operate it.
The rod cases are dusty, it’s three dogs later, and I’ve never looked back. Except to thank Bill whenever a pheasant hen rises in front of one of his successors.