Friday, November 20, 2009

Hunting Season

Hunting season for deer and bear is in full swing. Orange hats grace the heads of guys in pickup trucks. In our part of New Hampshire, fresh "Posted" signs are nailed to trees on many lands, but there is plenty of public and private land still open.

I don't hunt and I don't like guns, but I do see the value of hunting, as a way to gather a local, sustainable food. Though I have never been fond of the photos showing a killed moose, deer, or bear with smiling hunters sitting or standing next to their quarry. Especially those hunters who go for trophy animals, rather than to fill their freezer for the winter.

We still go for walks in the woods this time of year. Bella is outfitted with a hand-me-down orange vest, one that Aria (our 12-year old Shepherd) used when she was a thin pup. Bella stands only a foot and a half tall, but she springs through the woods, leaping logs, rocks and small streams in a single bound, and her tail stands up like a whitetail flag.

Bella models her orange vest

Bella is a tidy little package at forty pounds. Her breed -- English springer spaniel -- is a hunting breed. She seems to be more a show line than a field, hunting dog. As she flies through the woods she is mostly chasing her own demons. Not much flushing or "springing" of game. At home Bella struggles with her role in the pack, constantly stressing at the need to keep the humans and other dogs in line. We try to remain calm and assertive, but I suppose just like dealing with difficult teenagers, we don't always meet the test.

Bella is a challenge; sometimes we waver on our ability to live together peacefully, but then we see her big brown eyes and keep trying. She is happiest "hunting" in the woods, so I take her out as often as possible. I don't mind.

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