Thursday, November 5, 2009

Making me a liar

Got Gonzo out today and working him with Tess for about an hour and a half this afternoon. Rush, rush, rush to get to the woods only to slow way down because of the lack of game. Again, high temps in the mid 60's, (still too hot) and way too much cover for me to be slogging through.

It was good to have Gonzo back in the game and the two birds assumed their roles as if we had never taken a break. Gonzo hunted high, Tess hunted low. Tess would move first and Gonzo would survey the situation to see if it changed when Tess moved into a new area.

Thinking, always thinking.

We saw no game for the first hour as I waded through the underbrush. I picked tics off me as I went. Thankfully, they were slow moving.

The birds finally pinged on a squirrel. It darted straight to the top of a towering hickory. I only caught a glimpse of its ascent, but the hawks were on it, circling, limb to limb, climbing towards the canopy.

I pushed trees closer to the ground, pulled vines, trying to get the squirrel to move again. But it was gone. The birds moved to the next tree, intent on something in the dense pine needles. But there was nothing there. We bumped around for about 20 minutes, but nothing moved. It was the ghost squirrel.

We moved on.

Gonzo spied something in the distance and rocketed to investigate. I tripped along after him. They targeted a squirrel that was ratcheting up an elm whose base was surrounded by an almost impenetrable thicket that was growing over a jumble of broken logs.

I waded in, beating at the brush, knocking on the trunk of the tree, trying to keep the squirrel up high. Normally, I don't mind if a squirrel tries to make it on foot. I know Tess is waiting for just this opportunity.

The squirrel squirted up and down the trunk, the birds scrabbling to rake it off the side of the trunk. Talons ripped at the bark of the tree as bits of debris rained on my head. The squirrel had had enough. He bulldozed his way down the trunk and lept over my head to land in the brush and sticks on the ground. Tess bulleted through the undergrowth, but was stopped short by the piles of logs under which the squirrel was hiding.

The squirrel bolted for the next nearest tree, corkscrewing up the trunk and diving off a limb for the next tree over. My closer, Tess, was on the ground, in the brush and out of the fight. Gonzo grabbed the squirrel, snatching him in mid air, and spiraled with him down to the ground. His feet shifted for a better grip, and the chase was over. Gonzo was the closer.

Tess watched from nearby as I traded gonzo off to a tossed mouse and inspected the two small bites to his feet. Nothing to worry about there. Clean and bleeding like a champ.

It is good to have Gonzo back.

Here's to number 3.

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