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Posts Tagged ‘steelhead’

What gift: skunked!

Oh well.

Add that place to the “naughty” list!¬† Sometimes, the best outcome on a pioneering hunting trip is to finally cross a spot off your list. You know the one: it’s been bugging you for years, tempting you with its siren song of lush habitat. That’s what happened yesterday.

Beautiful weather brought out a crowd, relatively speaking, of steelheaders, shivering  waist-deep while casting hopefully to the nervous water. In one draw there was even another truck with a dog box parked along the riverside road. But not a shot was fired.

No sign, no tracks. Not a feather or call. Simply glorious surroundings, bluebird weather and the chance for both dogs to get a pre-Christmas romp among the sage and lava rock.

No crash-landings among the boulders. Both dogs unscathed by barbed wire fences. A golden eagle peering from a cliff as we hunted past. That might be enough of a gift on the day before the day before Christmas.

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We'll see, won't we?

I was issued a hall pass for the day before Christmas Eve … are you jealous yet? Just one day, so close to home was the number-one criterion. Someplace undiscovered was my second priority. Hmmmm. Tough list already.

A chance glimpse at one of the dozens of maps lying around the shop sealed the deal: a famous steelhead river beckoned … well-known for its aquatic denizens, its side draws and finger canyons might hold valley quail and chukars. And this time of year, if I encounter anyone it’ll be a lonely, shivering steelheader not a bird hunter.

I’ll be celebrating, in a way. Not only is it the day before we quaff eggnog and finish decorating the tree. It’s just one day removed from the winter solstice. The longest night of the year, followed by the shortest day.

Our hunter ancestors feared the dark, long nights. We who live in homes, not caves, merely tolerate the inconveniences. But we revel in the longer days, even if the sun only gives us one more minute of its presence each day, even if those days portend the end of hunting season, even if in one way summer has started.

A lump of coal in my stocking couldn’t spoil this Christmas gift.

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