It’s warm for the season. Out hunting today at Nockamixon, where I’ve harvested birds, blackberries, and nettles (for food and cordage), I tromp around with sweat at my brow and at the waist of my pants. My left hand clammy against the pigskin protection of a single glove. The weight of extra water in the blaze orange sack attached to the back of my canvas jacket pulls back and cinches the collar under my Adam’s apple. My feet are dragging, hanging up in low-lying briars, reluctant at the sight of stands of trees toppled by Sandy.
Cedar is working hard seeking the origins of scent. He’s young yet. I know the pheasant are gone from here, either taken by hunters or in self-exile on the fields of corn and soy stubble belonging to farmers surround the park. But he examines all clues, regardless of the age, trying to find our quarry. In fact, today, it is woodcock, otherwise known as the timberdoodle. I know the mid-day warmth is keeping them from moving much, if we happen upon one it will be pure luck. I’m ready to abandon the hunt – a luxury of modern society to have this option.
Woodcock are a small bird, about the size of a quail or dove, and in my estimation, delicious. They are tricky to hunt. While pheasant tend to move about on their feet foraging for food, flying only when in danger, the timberdoodle will more likely fly from place to place. They are a migratory bird, and accustomed to flight. When flushed, they fly in erratic patterns and are very swift; the chirping sound I hear is not their danger song but the sound of their wings battering the air.
I call it for lunch. Head to the diner down the road, where I get a burger and a beer and another burger patty for Cedar for $8.00, including tip. Talk for a bit with some dude about dogs and their ways, and why the Sonic Burger closed in Quakertown. Back at the park around 3:00, two hours of daylight left. Cedar, scratched and banged from the earlier day, is quite literally on point. His success is my invigoration, my success is his wiggly joy.