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Watching him mature - finally - one of the many memories of last season.

Watching him mature – finally – one of the many memories of last season.

Maybe you’re at the same juncture: bird season, kaput. Training, sure, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. But it is a pale imitation of the real deal.

Desperate to do something related to bird hunting and dogs, I paid homage to the chore gods by cleaning and putting my guns away. I put it off as long as possible every year, a feeble gesture that foretells the inevitable admission: We Are Done.

Partly out of hope, during the season I leave my go-to shooters handy: safely locked away in the TruckVault because you never know when you’ll be near a birdy field! This morning, with little hope for another hunt in the foreseeable future, I slid them from their drawer one at a time, swabbed and oiled, then locked them away in the safe. It was the definitive admission that the season is truly and finally over.

I know, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of “reasonable facsimiles.” A few days of preserve season here, more just north in Washington. Clay birds of all species down the road a ways. And training birds (not just pigeons) are now fair game year-round if you did the paperwork (I did). But kissing goodbye to the “real” season is always a bittersweet affair. Memories of dogs and places, good friends. Regrets at the places not visited, those who couldn’t make a trip, or a season.

Spray, wipe, think about the missed opportunities. With each stroke of the rag, a destination for next year. How about you?

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