I saw a quail today.
Hidden among thistle & brush.
Spaniels ready to flush,
When something unexpected happened to me.
“Why hello my fine fellow. Yes, I’m talking.
Yes, it’s true. Before I flush
and you volley shots one and two.
Take a moment, nay- take two.
Soak in the setting. Me and you.
Amber waves and chilled afternoons.
Call me Sir, as many tend to do.
Tis’ our ancient ritual between two.
If you’d like I’ll fly straight and true.
The shooting? Well, of course
that’s up to you.
Before I part, as I intend to,
pardon my manners for they are not becoming,
but this thistle and brush are my friend.
I hoped to stay hidden,
but, since you are here best we carry through.
Pardon me a moment, I have pen and paper for you.
A simple contract really just between us two.
Disregard the fine print. Simply legalize.
Note clause A) and B).
Subsections C and D.
Here is a pen for thee.
He steadied his top hat. Straighten up his bow tie.
Before the ink was dry, Sir Bob had flushed to sky.
Bested once again, I simply tipped my hat and said
“Well done my feathered friend.”
naked trees, quite melody,
casting wistful memory.
He yearns for colors of Fall
Umber, Sienna, Caramel leafs call,
a fusillade of desperate dreams.
By window ledge does he rest
filtered thoughts of missed regrets,
the feel of feathers remembrance.
Sting of cold November rain
A somber dance felt with pain.
Crisp Martini poured for two
stacks of vinyl to sift through.
The perfect song for a somber grey,
Nate King Cole croons
a STARDUST melody.
A consolation of missed dreams
from such melodic words.
To console missed whoa’s
of fleeting feathers.
He preps a board of better cheddar.
Tasting exquisite memories,
around the world from sea to sea.
He tasted Camembert, bloomy rind,
powder white. Earthy delight.He thought of Normandy.
Beaches where young men be,
battle grounds-brave soldiers did see.
beloved one’s lost oversea.
The Alps of Italy towered high,
scraping the heights of blue skies.
He tasted distant memories,
of earthy mountain cheese.
Fontina Val D’Aosta
subtle fruity, grassy to please.
Words of Hemingway ringing true.
Speed of duck wings zipping through.
Prairie Pheasants, Kansas winds,
“oh to be in Heaven again..”
Memories flooded with delight.
King of birds taking flight.
He marveled at the taste
Of a midwest delight.
A sheep milk cheese,
fit for royalty.
Tall in stature, Dirt Lovers.
Reminds him of rolling grassy seas
sweet undertones, oozes to please.
Coated in vegetable ash,
a way to memorialize past regrets.
Hint of subtle gamey notes.
Far away yet not long ago
venturing to the by and by.
With last bite, flooded memory.
He looks upon the cheese board
tastes of such acclaim.
He longs to trek once again
across the mountains and the plains,
side by side with dearest friends.
resting feathers felt in hands.
Wild birds vaulted to sky.
Citori swung-birds motion, buy,
shells projecting…birds still winging.
The man simply smiled, and shook his head for he knew what would be said…
did other hunters cuss.
Hunter smiled and nodded head,
Bellowed words..that must be said.
“Of places I miss & long to be…
I find feathers and fromage
"Far Away Fields"
By Erin Woodward for Missing Sucks
Pendant leafs autumns calling,
in hidden coverts of fields afar.
Hand drawn maps lead me here
thistle lies to all but one.
A place since long forgotten
a remembrance from my dreams,
the sounding Brittany’s bell a silent hush
brace of Grouse skyward flush.
Rendezvous with old friends
I watch them glide astray.
On autumn winds they soar like kings
to live another day.
The Brittany bell still again
in coverts far away.
Beyond the thistle
remains a place for me
if only in my dreams.
Just because you've shot a higher number of birds
in a place with no limits,
does not make you a better hunter.
Yet, there are those who actually believe this,
defend it vigorously, and unconscionably live by it.
they threaten our passion
and sporting traditions perhaps twice as much
as anyone of the most dedicated
By Mike Thompson - @upland_ish
Most gods as a matter of course,
don't help those who don't help themselves.
The power of the blessing or the curse is in the ritual.
It is the process we should be worried about
as the product doesn't matter.
Try hard enough and the product will take care of its self. Travel a thousand miles
and walk a hundred more
to earn the death of a prairie bird
and you can sleep well at night knowing
you did right in this ending of a life.
You earned it.
Thank yourself, not the grouse.
By Mike Thompson - @upland_ish
my consciousness isn't in my own mind anymore
but careening past sage brush, and over cactus,
and around badger holes - remote viewing a tri-colored nuclear power plant
that is busy reading the wind for folded wings.
I am invisibly chained to a heart that pounds
within stout ribs like a compressor gathering up light
and storing it in the sky
for the next burst toward heaven.
Much like a fiddler on the roof,
I strive daily to scratch out a sweet tune in life
without falling off and breaking my neck.
But the "balance factor" helping me do so
is not tradition;
although a fine partner it would be.
In my case,
my balance comes from a never ending
attempt to put into words
what this upland and waterfowl way of life
means to me.
Please, Don't Answer.
There are those who boast
how their bird dog is steady to wing and shot.
But I submit to you,
this accomplishment robs our companions
of their long, awaited opportunity,
to fully express themselves,
in the face of another, hot headed, covey rise.
Why restrict their festivity?
Wouldn't you jump for joy if Mr. White
erupted beneath your nose?
Let it be clear this is NOT my attempt
to excuse the fact that Daphne
has never been interested in learning
how to be steady to anything.
Do you believe me?
don't answer that question.
The King of game birds,
most certainly he is.
That royal scream, that regal screech,
all fund, that frustrating miss.
Profound colors, do illuminate,
his sky-rocketing motion.
Can others honestly match,
his incendiary explosion?
My hopes are to be quick,
as I'll aspire not to lag.
For the right speed of my swing,
will ensure his highness,
be in my bag.
And the epicurean gift,
possibly the one that most matters;
is the chance to uncork a fine vintage,
as his majesty is served on a platter.
One thing I know,
is that I don't know much.
But of the few things I do know,
one just happens to be so.
I'm consumed with a tiny bore;
even though it may be discouraging,
to shoot a .410.
And since the only meat I eat,
is what I have hunted afield,
I've been awfully hungry
since my early 40's.
On The Ride Back Home
No deeper, whole-hearted struggle,
than the one balancing the exhilaration of a shot well made, with the notion of knowing,
her nearly 5000 mile journey,
ended this way.
A journey she most likely made by herself.
One filling her with hope.
One made with valor and perseverance.
One transforming her from a 6 ounce bird,
to one barely over 4.
A journey she began way up north,
seeking safety, and that much needed,
A journey ending abruptly,
in the echo of my shot, and with me,
I forget all of this before pulling the trigger.
But think about it often,
on the ride back home.
By Erin Woodward for Missing Sucks
Cold my breath wisps through morning dawns blush,
With weather eye open approach we wait.
Arms ready for canvasback flight
Enveloped in marsh, shadows we become.
Ripples of water expanding in grace
Among the decoys
A brace of ducks volant to skies
Quiet dawns glow explode in a rush
The Parker consumes a rush of wings
The canvasbacks breath wisps no more.
I've thought it over,
then thought some more.
With every option considered,
one rose above all.
That in the rare occasion,
of harvesting His Highness,
attribute it to luck, and nothing more;
especially if your chase,
was .410 bored.
Thought something else,
made his grace fall?
you wouldn't have the gall!
Audacity comes to mind.
Here's more distress, as this may sound harsh.
But no one ever outsmarts,
the Prince of the Marsh.
The most difficult thing about being a bird hunter,
is knowing a beautiful life has to be taken;
a life lived with immense courage,
a life dedicated to survival,
and one that gives us so much pleasure
from just knowing it's out there,
living freely in the fields, hillsides, marshes, or prairies.
I wish I could hunt and not have to kill.
When she always embraces promising directions,
and turns her lines to match your wish.
When she is impartial to the changing winds,
and vicissitudes in temperature.
When she appreciates what is "just right" and "too far";
irrespective of the farthest, striking scent.
When her last efforts are sharpened auras,
of past remembrances.
When her stare eloquently says
“don’t worry, we’ll find them”
and drops back behind you, just to ensure.
When she ignores all scents,
except for the one,
first bringing you both together.
And when you never blow your whistle,
or ever utter a single word;
it will be then, when you'll quietly whisper,
“I’ll never have another dog like her.”
You May Agree
There really is no excuse for it,
although reasons will abound.
And when done in front of an audience,
who in their right mind, would want to be found?
Characters & decorum's
are the first to be affected.
While the relationship with our 4-legged friend,
will most certainly be tested.
And it will feel unbearable and excruciating,
that after so much hope, dreaming, & vision
we were unable to fulfill, the key part,
of our desired mission.
The more mature & level headed amongst us,
will have no conflict with one,
or many of these occurring.
But how could one remain so calm and composed,
when what just happened,
was just so despairing.
Statistically, I’ll admit it has to be a possibility.
But even your wise and consoling words,
won’t stop me wishing
for a better swinging ability.
Moods will sway all day
and well into the night.
And we may lay awake debating
our gun fit, swing, or sight.
And the wiser ones will say;
"it really isn't that bad"
but rather absurd & infantile
that we be, so wretchedly sad.
But dearest of friends,
here is something I’d like to say;
it's something backed up by my personal experiences
lived on every hunting day.
…that after pulling the trigger
& failing to see something fall,
be prepared for your world to come apart;
for your breathing to suddenly stall.
And it won't matter the game bird you pursue;
be it quail, geese, snipe, or ducks,
for the only reality I know,
is that missing truly sucks.
I Stare At A Snipe
Damp and sodden grounds,
is where you’ll stroll and call home.
Unwise for Daphne to be around,
I'll find you myself,
if for hours I roam.
My spirits climb higher,
as more mud I push down.
As promising views, fill me with hope.
For when our moment, does come around,
I feel almost certain,
I'll be able to cope.
But as you chaotically rise,
without any direction,
and my late gun mount, halts my left welly,
I realize it's too late, for any correction,
and sadly just stare,
at your blinking white belly.
Lords of Waterfowl
It’s unimportant what brought you all together.
Just know your gathering, will make so many feel better.
What we should be motivated and inspired by,
is how you’ve decided not to fade away,
and simply begin to die.
While observing your scars, gashes, and wears,
attempting to understand your life,
is something I wouldn’t dare.
For it must be unthinkable to conceive your sporting story;
one I’m sure brought you
no publicized glory.
I reflect on what you’ve seen and lived through.
And ponder on those who haven’t given you, your just due.
For many probably said, “that deek won’t pass my bar”,
and walked away; away from the only true star.
Your absence of blue blood and lack of a known maker,
are more reasons why you may never have any takers.
But your long, hard existence
is indeed remarkable;
for you’ve survived all elements
and the utterly unimaginable.
How often have you been thrown into icy waters?
After being boorishly unknotted
from your sisters and brothers?
I see sleet, winds, and fierce rains
tenaciously pelted your sides.
And the burning shot scarring you,
you decide long ago, to just abide.
you’ve arrived to this wall from various lands.
Far, far away from your home waters
and original carving hands.
But you’re not here to end your profession,
least of all to retire.
You’re simply taking a merited rest,
while growing your stout desire.
I believe your brightest days are yet to arrive,
where you’ll command those churning flocks,
to take that final dive.
As echoes of shots will ring again in your ears,
delighted once more that you feel
so alive and so real.
So repose, fine-looking friends,
for a comfortable while,
as I detect the beginnings of 12, happy smiles.
For you Lords of Waterfowl, enablers of dreams,
know damn well you’ll be out there again,
along with your teams.
And please know, that as your temporary host,
I never judged you by your exterior,
nor by the wounds or welts making others conclude
you were inferior.
But rather by my respect, esteem, and admiration,
for all the years you have shown,
just sheer determination.
And when you charm again,
from any river, bay, or pond,
just remember that our time together,
I considered a most inspiring bond.
I was hoping to feel better,
and to bear less guilt.
About how my passion ends,
what you have,
so courageously built.
So years ago, I chose a smaller bore,
to give you greater odds,
at living even more.
But that decision came,
with a higher cost;
for wounding you or hurting you,
would make us both,
It just seemed a 12, 20, or 28,
reduced your chance for that deserved escape.
So with a .410 I walk today,
hoping not to ruin, both our days.
And though I deemed a smaller bore,
and practice on my marksmanship,
would make our encounter,
a more balanced partnership,
the truth is I ache for this pain to get better;
the pain of taking your life,
with a tool that “seemed” fairer.
But as I see you laying on the ground,
hoping you didn’t hear a single sound,
I reflect on the many seasons,
of trying to come up,
with one soothing reason,
to use against this ever-growing pain;
one that trying to ignore,
has been utterly in vain.
Amongst the Georgia thorns,
soggy wet grounds, and old barbed wires,
impressed once more
at how you would not tire,
your nose muddled beyond and through;
as you searched for a cinnamon Lord,
you barely even knew.
Before the moment came,
you flash-pointed the scent, of our aspired game.
And as you early tangled with two,
your passion for timber doodles,
His wing beats, his colors,
his flight path and wingspan
took me way back, to that green Vermont land.
Where what doesn't seem,
but in fact is, a long time ago,
I chased him with your sister Tulula;
a setter who loved hearing
"Tulula, let's go!"
It was when your hope,
became more contagious,
and our heartbeats felt, like one for the ages,
that you suddenly halted and went still,
and waited so elegantly
for me to join the thrill.
I walked in humble. I walked in ready,
while you and his Lordship,
held forever so steady.
Approaching the area,
you undoubtedly saw promise,
(after all, ten years of scenting, made you no novice)
I felt an enthusiasm, that may only be found,
in the heart of a first timer saying;
"I'm finally woodcock bound!'
He went up fast, as to give us a test.
Thought again carefully,
and turned to the west.
But my gun and I, fell victims to his trick,
and I concluded, in that very second.
"my swing just can't be fixed."
In disbelief, I was left standing,
while trying to form, a possible understanding,
of how I could have failed you again;
oh sweet little Daphne, I'll never be able to explain,
what happened back then.
It seems impossible to understand,
how a long-beaked Lord, that felt seconds from my hand,
could fill me with such regrettable emotions,
the kind that remind me of not living up,
to your faithful devotion.
No excuses will I try to give you.
No preposterous reasons will I try to feed you.
Just suffice to say, that I was enormously remiss,
to reward you again,
with just Another Miss.
I have tried on many occasions,
to sit down and write a poem about her.
A poem about how sweet and loving she was, and one reminding us of how things were.
But every time I attempt and try,
to choose the words describing
I rapidly and suddenly begin to cry,
and just conclude we were
I learned today,
that to the applauses of many,
and most likely for the wrong reasons,
another one of our kin was sold;
only this time, for the price of a million dollars,
or so I was told.
And thus, my bewilderment grew,
and became even more perplexed,
about a age-old disappointment,
that has had me gravely vexed.
I hear it all the time,
of my wooden relatives being bought and sold,
at auctions where many
have clearly misunderstood our goal.
So I urge you not to be one, who won't comprehend,
for my purpose is clear, and has only one end.
I was carved, as Ward so movingly mentioned,
to drift in the waters and shorelines,
and attract their attention.
To be placed on a shelf, rack, or office,
just to enhance the tones of someone’s decorative process,
is too far-fetched for me to understand.
So I'll consider it a most dreadful shame,
when I’m used for anything other,
than my only game.
So please sit back and sit still;
as I speak through this pine,
that is now my bill; I belong amongst the winds and calms;
in estuaries, marshes, potholes, or bays.
Where I’ll seesaw in the tides,
while I watch you silently pray,
that my heartbeat-owning “twins”
spot me as they fly up and around,
and trust my colors and lines,
to silently call them down.
And should they mark me,
from way up high,
and commence their inevitable descent,
I’ll have accomplished what I was carved to do,
so much to your content.
My Beloved Perdiz
Having first laid eyes on you,
almost forty years ago,
your yellow golden colors
easily separated you,
from the pinks and grays,
in my fathers bag.
Being the blessing of his dove hunts,
I carried you through endless fields,
never once suspecting,
what you would become.
To know back then
how you would turn in my mind,
To know back then
how you would dance in my thoughts,
To know back then
how you would whistle in my ears,
would’ve been unimaginable
and possibly too much to have asked,
of a six year old.
Yet today, so many years later,
you fill my reflections and my every thought.
You are indeed irreplaceable,
yet only few know by how much.
Fortunate for having met you,
I elatedly recall the last time we waltzed,
and remember how we once again,
danced our ballad.
How we once again.
shared our time
and traded foot steps,
amongst the highest volcanoes
in the world.
You have, on more than one occasion,
made Junior, Daphne, Dasha, Archie,
Manjar, Nicki, and Canon
stare at themselves and wonder.
You have, on more than one occasion,
forced us to smile, as we gave up search,
on a recently visited dance floor.
Nevertheless, here and now,
I whisper in your ears only,
that I've been grateful for the times
you have denied me
your magnificent image, flight,
it has been more stunning that way.
In my eyes,
you are the Queen of the Andes,
extraordinary and filled
You are matchless
and are painted in my mental canvas
for as long as I'll have reason.
You are a survivor
who merits understanding.
So elegant, evasive, and wise,
I break my gun open,
dig in deep for a new breath of fresh air,
and surrounded by chocho,
I ever so appreciatively say,
"Ode to you, my beloved perdiz."
The Natalie Jordan Rig
With charisma and allure,
they’ll seduce those up high in the sky.
And today, dear friend,
our love for waterfowling,
you and I, will surely amplify.
But the shapes and lines in front of us,
represent more than enticing forces.
Bodt painted and Bodt carved,
can you see what their layout nobly endorses?
It validates the dreams of a few with vision;
some present, and others from some time ago.
Dreams my 16-year-old Natalie,
upholds today, and will never want to let go.
Without consciously trying,
she is genuine about feeling this way.
So please share it with those,
whom you feel may need it most,
what you will listen to, and gather here today.
For the floating community in front of us,
proves again that peaceful living can actually be;
even though its residents don’t look or quack the same,
as they spring from different lands,
and different seas.
Just watch them working together,
all towards one common end and common goal.
And they do it appreciating
and supporting each other,
not minding their differences;
not minding them at all.
This vision for the world, I feel Natalie desires.
And it enthuses me enormously,
making me a beyond-proud father,
that she would have such a caring & hoping vision,
in time where to many,
this vision would deeply bother.
So, on her 16th birthday,
the gift of 16 different lives,
I believe will make her glad.
But as she is vegan, I’ll have to hunt them myself,
for a passion that began,
long ago with my dad.
And as we sit here,
hoping they’ll soon begin to pitch in,
please consider this moment,
may actually be quite big.
For in the near or distant future,
you’ll be able to happily say,
“I once gunned
with The Natalie Jordan Rig”