Petzal: Bits and Pieces

One of the pleasures of a hunting trip is the little images that stick in your mind; some of no … Continued

One of the pleasures of a hunting trip is the little images that stick in your mind; some of no seeming significance at all at the time, but years later, there they are. And you never know which ones will endure over time. Here are a few of mine:

*Near Fort Riley, Kansas, a quartet of pointers slamming to a halt around a setter who had just pointed a covey of wild quail. It was as though the dogs had been instantly cast in bronze.

*Outside of Bozeman, Montana, watching a cloud bank approach from the west. It was pitch black, and extended from the ground into the stratosphere. It was a major blizzard, but it looked like the End of Days.

*On the tarmac at Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg, in 1988, as I landed I saw one of the airport workers dancing his heart out right out there among the tugs and the baggage carts. Maybe he was happy, or drunk, or both.

*In the Northwest Territories, near Courageous Lake, a young grizzly boar with a mangled snout sat on his haunches like a dog and regarded me with polite interest.

*In Alaska, a young guide who had nearly been killed by a grizzly a few days before, and would have been had his client not kept his nerve and kept shooting. His face was still a mask of terror.

*A big, big, South Carolina buck with a yellow rack who stayed out of rifle range and finally vanished into a pine thicket, his antlers twinkling like lights.

*In Zambia, in 1987, a dead buffalo with a dead oxpecker lying next to it. My bullet had killed both the bull and the bird.

My 41st big-game season is coming up, and this is why I keep at it.