"A MOST MEANINGFUL HUNT"

Discussion in 'Photography Forum' started by Irishwhistler, Nov 22, 2017.

  1. Irishwhistler

    Irishwhistler Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    256
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Location:
    LAB LAND
    Aye Mates,

    This coastal sea duck hunt and photo essay are dedicated to the memory of Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Enforcement Police Officer James V. Spignesi Jr. whom made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our beloved natural resources on 20 November 1998. NEVER FORGOTTEN.
    [​IMG]
    C. O. JAMES V. SPIGNESI JR.

    Monday 20 NOVEMBER 2017 was the 19th anniversary of the line of duty death of our Fallen Brother Officer James V. Spignesi Jr., who was tragically shot and killed while conducting a foot patrol to combat illegal deer poaching activity. Normally I would attend the annual memorial ceremony held each year in honor of Jim. This year, I participated in a sea duck hunt that was purchased at an annual auction event held to support a memorial scholarship supported by the Connecticut Conservation Officer's Association and The Spignesi Scholarship Fund. It so happened the memorial ceremony and the hunt were scheduled on the same day, Monday 20 November 2017. The scholarship in Jim's name is at the UCONN School Of Agriculture and Natural Resources Engineering where Jim studied wildlife management and became a graduate of that program. Tribute was maintained to Jim on Monday, both in Connecticut and on the Atlantic waters of Maine.

    [​IMG]

    So, settle into ye chair and pour yourself a cup of coffee or any other beverage you might be inclined toward, and come along on our most special hunt dedicated to Jim. This hunt was most generously donated by USCG Captain and Maine Master Guide Troy Fields of TRADITIONS GUIDE SERVICE in his support of the memory of Conservation Officer Spignesi and Natural Resources Conservation Law Enforcement. Troy is truly a stand up guy, an incredibly talented guide, and a true friend. Troy has already committed to supporting this cause with another hunt for 2018 and this most special partnership is deeply appreciated.

    The hunt was attended by myself and three of my best friends, two of us retired law enforcement agents and two still active on the job. The group consisted of John and myself both of us Game Wardens by calling, John still on the job and myself a retired Sergeant, along with father and son Bill and Billy, the senior (Bill) a former State Police Sergeant and Billy currently serving as a Trooper First Class. This hunt was surely law enforcement maintaining the honor of a Fallen Brother.

    [​IMG]
    "MAINEtaining Morning Watch" - My gun dog TRAD is on watch for any approaching birds as long lines of eider and scoter decoys are set out for the hunt on thrashing Maine waters.

    We hunted with Troy on both Monday and Tuesday, each day meeting with the good Captain at zero dark hundred and making our early morning trek to the boat launches from which we got underway. The beauty surrounding us as the rising sun kissed the main coast with incredible hues was spectacular and each of us took it in on our own terms. For myself, it was a personal connection to my Fallen Brother C. O. James Spignesi and the natural world he had so diligently dedicated his life to.

    [​IMG]
    "Setting The Rig" - USCG Captain and Maine Master Guide Troy Fields of Traditions Guide Service in Shapleigh, Maine is captured in light while stringing out decoys on the morning of our first hunt. TROY put us on the X and we had some grand gunning on both common eider and three species of scoter on Monday. As a visual artist and lifelong waterfowl hunting fanatic, I was torn between reaching for the camera and my smoothbore, in the end both getting plenty of use.

    [​IMG]
    "UNCOMMON BEAUTY" - My gun dog "TRAD" made his first retrieve of the day on this beautiful common eider hen. The estuary we were hunting was teaming with life and the decoy rig was continually buzzed by setting eider. Lurking seals and currents ripping with the incoming tide kept me continually on watch for TRAD'S safety and when in doubt we would radio Troy to make pick up of downed birds that might potentially put TRAD in danger. Safety on these beautiful and often treacherous Maine waters was always priority one and none of us were lulled into falling to her uncaring and always lurking wickedness.
     
  2. Irishwhistler

    Irishwhistler Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    256
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Location:
    LAB LAND
    [​IMG]
    "TAKING A KNEE" - My gunning Mate Bill and a U.S. Military Veteran "takes a knee" in patriotic good form as he swings on this eider swooping in on our decoy spread.

    [​IMG]
    "TRAD ON SEND" - My gun dog TRAD makes way past past the last two decoys on a long line of eider blocks as he goes out to make retrieve of the eider folded by Bill. We had a quick flurry of birds that came in feet down and committed toward the decoys and my spot on gunning mates and myself had TRAD making four retrieves in a row. We called Troy in by radio to make retrieve by boat of a fifth bird that was in a strong rip with a seal lurking in it's reach, taking proper decisive action in consideration to TRAD'S safety.

    [​IMG]
    "INCOMING" - Father and son Bill and Billy move inward along a jetty as water rushes back into the estuary with the incoming tide. Both have a deep respect for frigid waters and the dangers presented by them. Just a few short years ago, Bill, Billy, and a third friend Jon plunged through rotten ice as they walked off of a remote pond at the end of a day of ice fishing. Young and strong, Billy made heroic efforts to get himself back on to firm ice and to use a long hemlock branch retrieved from a nearby shoreline to get his Dad and Jon out of the deathtrap presented by the frigid waters. Billy then ran approximately 1 mile in a water logged Carhartt coverall to get a truck to warm his father and Jon after being able to get one call out for help before his water damaged cell phone died. This rescue effort by Billy is truly amazing given all the odds stacked against the survival of this most fortunate trio. Among my best of friends, I am most thankful to God for their survival under highly dire circumstances. I am so lucky seeing them still amongst the living and to hunt in their company.

    [​IMG]
    "UNDERWAY" - Captain Troy Fields makes way with his very apt vessel, a crew of "four flatlander fowlers", rigs of scoter and eider decoys , and Labrador gun dogs PEARL and TRAD riding o'er the blustery wind driven waters. Over our two days of hunting with Troy we gunned from both land and water positions, each presenting some incredible action on very different shooting platforms. Shooting at birds flying like feathered fighter jets from a boat pitching in constantly changing angles as driven by the rolling Atlantic swells will challenge the best of wing shooters. One of my first partners on the job, John (up front) takes in the Maine scenery as we change locations. John is amongst the very best of Game Wardens I have ever had the honor of working with.

    [​IMG]
    "MORNING LIGHT EIDERS" - A string of three chestnut red common eider hens catches the morning light and contrasts beautifully against the cold blue Atlantic waters as we gun from the boat. These three caught the swing of my camera instead of my shotgun, lucky for them and lucky for me.
     
  3. Irishwhistler

    Irishwhistler Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    256
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Location:
    LAB LAND
    [​IMG]
    "DUMPED" - Unlike more than a few birds that buzzed us with narry a feather ruffled, I caught this scoter getting "dumped" in mid air as Bill let fly with a round from his shotgun. More work for the retrievers in some cold and rolling surf.

    [​IMG]
    "PEARL" - Troy's shadow and gun dog, makes short order of retrieving one of many birds she recovered over our two days of hunting with the good Captain Fields.

    [​IMG]
    "WORKING THE ICY WATERS" - My gun dog HR UH TTF CRAIGHORN KIFFIN TRAD SH, call name "TRAD" proved himself a worthy lad in launching off of the bow of Troy's Duckwater and quickly learning to make return with the retrieved bird via the dog ladder off the transom.

    [​IMG]
    "BLACK ON BLUE" - TRAD lines across blue water on a mission to retrieve a crippled scoter. God how I love watching fine gun dogs work.

    [​IMG]

    "PEARL"
     
  4. Irishwhistler

    Irishwhistler Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    256
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Location:
    LAB LAND
    [​IMG]
    "TRAD"

    Both PEARL and TRAD were true assets in the recovery of downed birds, they both live to work and make for a completely traditional experience for any fowlers fortunate enough to gun over them.

    [​IMG]
    "CAPTAIN TROY FIELDS" - Special thanks go out to Troy for his support of the C. O. James V. Spignesi Jr. Memorial Scholarship and for his most deeply appreciated friendship.

    We took Troy and Terri out to dinner on Monday night and started the evening with a toast to the memory of C. O. James V. Spignesi Jr. A fine dinner and grog shared amongst great friends in tribute to a friend lost and deeply missed.

    [​IMG]
    "ON SKIES OF GOLD" - A most meaningful hunt held on a most significant day, Jim was surely smiling down upon us. Jim, you are NEVER FORGOTTEN.

    Respectfully,
    Irishwhistler
     
    stevena198301 likes this.
  5. dankoustas

    dankoustas Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    1,026
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Gibraltar, Michigan
    Wow, those are some great pics and a nice tribute as well.
    Dan
     
    Irishwhistler likes this.
  6. GUNNERX2

    GUNNERX2 Elite Refuge Member

    Messages:
    3,916
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2007
    Location:
    TENNESSEE
    Great story and images.
     
  7. tgs

    tgs Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    837
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2009
    Location:
    So. Maine
    Very nice Mike! The pleasure was all mine and I look forward to continuing our partnership in Jim's honor.
     
  8. Irishwhistler

    Irishwhistler Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    256
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Location:
    LAB LAND
    Troy,
    We had a great time with you and I personally look forward to the next time I hunt with you. We are very fortunate to have your most generous support and I look forward to our continuing partnership. Give Pearl a belly rub for me.:tu

    Respectfully yours,
    Mike
     
  9. Ct Lab

    Ct Lab Refuge Member

    Messages:
    65
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Mike , Awesome tribute to a fallen comrade. Trad has become quite a wonderful retriever too.
     
    Irishwhistler likes this.
  10. Irishwhistler

    Irishwhistler Senior Refuge Member

    Messages:
    256
    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Location:
    LAB LAND
    Many thanks to ye.

    Irishwhistler
     

Share This Page