What a great day we had. I’m still thinking about it two weeks later. My 19 year old daughter Taylor, a wildlife biology and biology major in college, was home for Thanksgiving break. Taylor completed the hunter safety course in October, scoring a 100% on her exam, and purchased her hunting license. During Thanksgiving break, she became the second generation of women hunters in our family.
The day started off with a trip to the dentist and errands, then headed toward the dirt road where I deer hunted last weekend. There were signs of partridge so although I hadn’t seen the birds, I knew they were around. Along the way, I spotted one partridge in an apple tree before we got to the dirt road, a good sign that the birds were moving around. I pulled the truck off to the side when we got to the dirt road so we could get our shotguns out and put on our two pieces of orange. We were ready. A mile down the road, I spotted a partridge and we got out to walk.Taylor loaded her single shot .20 gauge and went after the bird. It flew before she spotted it again, and I said, “Once it flies into brush that far away, it’s over.” She lowered the shotgun. I blew it for her! I didn’t see that the partridge landed in a tree in plain sight. She could have continued after the bird. By the time I realized what I’d done, it was too late.
Taylor didn’t see the second bird. From her angle it was hidden behind brush, so I claimed it. It disappeared into the dense evergreen saplings on the side of the road. I heard rustling in the leaves in a small clearing so I pointed Taylor in that direction and continued on my way. I didn’t locate the partridge until I heard its “quit-quit-quit” alarm. I couldn’t see it so I took a few steps closer and startled it. I heard the rush of wings as it flew away, still unseen. Six feet later, another rush of wings as a second bird flew, and then a third that I got a glance at as it disappeared deeper into the thick hemlocks. I scared a fourth partridge out of that stand of young, dense softwoods. They were gone. I could hear Taylor walking on the gravel road and turned to go back to her.
Taylor hadn’t been sent after a partridge. It turns out the rustling came from a snowshoe hare. We moved on. A few miles later, Taylor spotted two partridge in dead, brown grass. I wasn’t expecting to see birds as we were on our way out. I’d just said “we never see birds on the way out.” She followed the direction they walked away along a narrow, overgrown logging road as I walked the dirt road away from her. I wanted to be out of her range so that she didn’t have to worry about my location if she found a bird.
Further up the dirt road, I shot at a bird as it flew and missed. Taylor didn’t find the partridge again. These were the last birds we saw, and we came home empty handed but had a great time.