"T'IS ONLY NUMBERS" AGRI-RUINS- A photo essay.

Discussion in 'The Duck Hunters Forum' started by Irishwhistler, Dec 6, 2017.

  1. Irishwhistler

    Irishwhistler Senior Refuge Member

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    Aye Mates,

    So I recently promised I would scribe a photo essay after what was to be an upcoming hunt for ruffed grouse in Maine with me Mate Dave aka "COALMAN"as many of ye that frequent the same hunting forums might know him as so called. I left lower New England early Sunday morning with the promise o' at least one good day o' weather forecasted ahead. David and I had made plans to hunt on Monday and Tuesday, the latter was looking a bit more bleak with rains progressively getting more intense past the noon hour. Me trip north was uneventful and much more pleasant once I left the interstate highway and made me way along the winding roads so typical o' rural New England. I sipped on a large cup' o' coffee and listened to some great Irish traditional music within the confines o' me SUV where I can comfortably belt out in song with nobody to give critique except for me gun dog TRAD and he remained mum in that regard just patiently putting up with me Irish ways.

    I was greeted by David at the junction o' the main road and the dirt drive that leads into his camp at a bit after the noon hour, a welcoming grin on his face. Within minutes I was parked and unloading me gear for the stay at grouse camp. It had been way too long since I last spent time directly with Dave. I trained his gun dog BELLE a few years back and we have had a grand friendship ever since, that despite the 2.5 hour ride that separates us.

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    Dave and meself were together for mere minutes whence we decided a toast was well in order to celebrate the time we would spend together for the next two days. There was no hunting to be legally conducted on Sunday in the State O' Maine so we had planned on spending the day catching up, doing some drives through the local countryside, and spending quality time with our gun dogs BELLE and TRAD. We hoisted a dram o' good cheer and Dave was besides himself with excitement for what we anticipated would be a grand time shared together.

    The majority o' the remaining daylight hours were spent with Dave giving me a tour o' the area and sharing some o' his treasured covert locations with me. Some o' ye that know Dave personally fully understand whence I tell ye that the old trapper gets a crazed twinkle in his eyes whenever the topic is hunting, fishing, or trapping, today being no different. Dave's yellow Labrador "Miss BELLE" was just as excited as Dave and she stuck her head out o'er the console in his pickup truck and she sang in our ears whenever the truck was underway. BELLE"S tune went full out staccato anytime the road turned from pavement to dirt, the wee Lass being a bird hunting addict just like her owner Dave.

    Later on Sunday evening we went to a local eatery for some dinner, to which Dave most kindly, treated me. Good eats and a bit' o grog, we headed back to camp and shared a few yarns about our respective hunting adventures, some recent and others from our memorable pasts. As the evening went on, t'was clear that we both needed to get some sleep to deal what was likely to be a physically demanding hunting schedule o'er the next two days. Lights out in the camper, we both wandered off into slumber and what was likely dreams o' grouse folding mid-flight at the barking o' our stack barrel 20 bores, BELLE nestled up against Dave and me gun dog TRAD's head draped o'er me legs just enough to transfer his body heat whilst mildly cutting off me circulation. Ye gotta love gun dogs, they just live so unconditionally for us.

    Despite the fact we had turned in early, morning seemed to come quickly The early evening serenade o' two separate groups o' coyotes emanating from the opposing mountain walls that formed the valley in which Dave's camp was located had long ceased. I was uncertain if the howling had been more the result o' the super full moon or the taunting calls that COALMAN sent outward with his hands cupped to his mouth and directing his howls and territorial calls toward the mountains that were brightly bathed in moonlight. Either way, the howling coyotes provided a most primal concert that both Dave and I had enjoyed. Stepping out o' the warm confines o' Dave's camp, our senses were quickly jolted awake by the frigid morning air, the thermometer pegged at 18 degrees F. The heavy frost left nothing unscathed and t'was clear to us that we would be dealing with a more than chilly morn. Dave and I readied the dogs and headed out to grab some breakfast to provide nourishing energy for what would be a full day o' chasing feathers. We traveled down to a four way intersection o' rural roads and the General Store located on the corner. I love visiting most old General Stores, unfortunately a quickly disappearing hub o' rural society in way too many locations succumbing to chain operated "convenience marts". Our breakfast was prepared by a nice young woman that cooked, tended register, and went out o' her way to make all that patronized her establishment feel welcomed. As Dave and I took a seat at a table in the dining area, I flashed a grin at an old gent seated adjacent to us whilst saying "how are ye doing sir". The old lad piped right up in response with an accent that was purely o' one that may have spent the far majority o' his days in Maine. He clearly knew we were hunters, just as he knew by me own accent that I was "from away" (that being anywhere other than Maine in the local parlance). Regardless o' me status as a "flatlander", we quickly struck up a most friendly conversation, that bond being formed in a matter o' seconds by a common love for hunting. Dave told the old gent we were grouse hunting which seemed to put a sparkle in the eyes o' the old timer, his hunting days seemed to me to be obviously long finished by troubled legs and dependence on a cane to walk on the most level o' ground. As the old lad spoke to us about bird hunting, he not once referred to "THE KING O' GAME BIRDS" as anything other than "pat'ridge" with a Mainer affect that can't be mistaken. Our conversation also included the topic o' "the great fires o' 1947", Maine forests o' huge proportion ablaze as a result o' a severe drought making the wooden fuels particularly dry. Property loss was devastating, many natives left Maine never to return. The old gent spoke o' his memories o' seeing the glow o' the fire from his crib as a toddler, and sadly o' his family losing their home. So, our morning breakfast was one filled with friendship, a spellbinding historical account o' a tragic forest fire that left many homeless, and o' local flavor / culture that is pure Americana and most sadly, a disappearing way o' life.

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    Dave aka "COALMAN" flashes me a "thumbs up" as he makes ready to get underway at the helm of his pickup TRAD and BELLE in the backseat and dressed in their upland vests. The blackpowder season for deer in effect, we decided to take precautions to protect our dogs by making them more visible to others gunning in the vast Maine woodlands. We never encountered another hunter in two days.

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    Dave, BELLE, and TRAD are eclipsed within the remaining rays o' sunlight as the sun is sinking below the horizon and casting the elongating shadows of late day. We worked steep thickets of aspen, birch, and spruce throughout the two days we hunted.

    Dave and I relied on his GPS readouts as an accounting that had us leaving seven miles o' boot leather aground on each o' the two days we hunted. Some o' the terrain was deceptively gentle on us, carpets o' sphagnum and reindeer moss gently cushioning our every step underfoot with a barely audible squishing sound. Most o' the topography was brutal with climbs and descents that were challenging, some more than others as slash from former logging activity made for precarious footing and potential for injury far from any nearby road an ever present reality. Our time spent watching our gun dogs at work (when we could see them darting in and out o' the thickets) and the beautiful Maine woodlands made the arduous nature of the quest for "Ol' Ruff" just another aspect o' the total grouse hunting experience each day, but ne we surely felt at the end o' the day.

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    Me gun dog TRAD sporting his "upland vest", one much different from the camouflage neoprene duds he recently wore during our hunt for sea ducks in frigid Maine Atlantic waters. Gear selected with specific purpose and conditions in mind to protect our beloved gun dogs.

    So, I imagine there are those wondering where are the obligatory photo's o' a few "pat'ridge" laying alongside some pretty double guns resting on beds o' verdant moss? Maine daily bag limits allow for four birds per gunner per day don't they? So, where are the photo's? Dave and I each had encounters with grouse during our two days o' hunting. We walked what seemed like countless footsteps, spent numerous hours afoot, spent X number o' dollars on fuel, tolls, food, non-resident small game licenses, drove hundreds o' miles, and we shot zero ruffed grouse, the encounters presenting no real opportunities for a connecting shot. T'is only numbers Mates! Sure, connecting on any o' the five grouse we encountered o'er the past two days would surely have been splendid, but despite the fact that we were grouse hunting, the birds are not the sole reason we give chase to them. It seems to me that each grouse hunter has their own intimate connections with these most grand o' upland birds. For meself, t'is connection with me youth, whence I often shot birds with a 20 gauge pump action shotgun I bought with money earned from delivering newspapers. T' is a connection to the memory o' the first double I ever shot on two o' the most unfortunate "pat'ridge" I ever swung a smoothbore on. T'is the memories o' sharing hunts with friends now gone. T'is the joy o' considering the antics and abilities o' gun dogs past and present. I could go on and on, these being many o' the aspects o' hunting grouse that make doing so a most special pursuit for meself personally. I would wager to bet that many o' the elements o' hunting for grouse that I cherish are the same that fuel the passion for pat'ridge o' those reading this, and good on ye for ye desire for the chase.

    T'was most clear to me as Dave and I traversed the hillsides o' Maine that there are way more miles behind me than there are in front o' me, all o' those miles measured in numbers. T'was also clear that regardless o' the lacking o' bird numbers for this particular hunt, that I already long for the opportunity to do it again and that the intrinsic reasons for some pursuits just cannot be measured in numbers.

    Slan go Foill,
    Irishwhistler
     
  2. GUNNERX2

    GUNNERX2 Elite Refuge Member

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    A notable chapter in the life of a "bird hunter". Well done.
     
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  3. Irishwhistler

    Irishwhistler Senior Refuge Member

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    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Location:
    LAB LAND
    Aye Mates,
    As a visual artist I continually seek to evoke emotion and contemplation through the images I bring to the viewer. Last year, I presented a series of photo's that I had titled "WRECKLAMATION". The series featured a 1953 Mack Dump Body Truck that had been sitting on a farm property for many years. The series was a month by month comparative of environmental changes over the course of an entire year as was relative to the seemingly constant state of the truck. The series was a popular one on this forum and several others. I received commentary from around the globe and the connection between people, the truck, and the surrounding land was one that stirred the thoughts of many viewers.

    I am embarking on another such series that I am titling "AGRI-RUINS" which will focus on buildings and equipment related to agriculture that have fallen into various states of neglect or disrepair. It is my hope that the photo series brings to thought the disconnect betwixt current day mainstream society and our once prevalent agricultural past. As we move into the future with continuing disregard for the land and all that is dependent on it, it is my hope that this series brings a more intense focus of to each viewer of how dependent we as humans and the wildlife we cherish are on our dwindling agricultural lands. "NO FARMS - NO FOOD - AND NO WILDLIFE.

    So here's the December installation for the "Agri - Ruins" project with no snow available to set the mood.

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    "SLAUGHTERED" - This once beautiful stone building served as a slaughterhouse on a farm now in total ruination with the exception o' the rich earth it stands upon. At one time the "last stop" for a number o' livestock, the building now moans with her last gasps o' life.

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    "ICONIC RUST" - The unmistakeable green and yellow paint on this old tractor holds the patina only the passage o' time can impart. The raised lettering in the metal going bare says it all.

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    "STRANDED SCULPTURE" - Missing one rear wheel and given it's aged condition, one can only ponder how long the passing o' time since this old tractor last moved?

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    "CORN CRIB O' CRAP" - This old corn crib seems to be a depository for "crap". Makes me wonder if there are any treasures within her slanted walls?

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    "CREEPING" - This once beautiful barn imploded with the passage o' time aided by severe neglect. The old structure is now covered with the creeping vines o' invasive Bittersweet.

    That's it for December Mates. The next installation in January will surely bring images with stronger winter overtones.

    NO FARMS, NO FOOD, NO WILDLIFE.
    Irishwhistler
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
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  4. por boy

    por boy Senior Refuge Member

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    IL.
    Thanks for posting
     
  5. P Frey

    P Frey Senior Refuge Member

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    Location:
    New York
    Love me some TRAD!! Good looking boy and by reading your posts he aint a bad hunter either!!!:tu
     
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