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A first bird



By Matty McCain Big Sky Weekly contributor

Moving to Montana opened my eyes to many
things: -30 degree winters, the most beautiful
mountains I have ever seen, and the excitement of
bird hunting. I started hunting when we moved
here eight years ago; primarily antelope, deer
and elk, but then I was introduced to upland bird
My first few years of bird hunting involved me
trampling through the woods, sagebrush, grain
fields, or anywhere I thought I might run into a
few birds. Mainly, I took my shotgun for a walk in
some beautiful country.
Finally, I got my first hunting dog, Schmoo. A
pound puppy from Baker, she isn’t from hunting
stock. She is part Lab and part Brittany spaniel,
and my companion, hunting buddy and little black
Although my wife Summer doesn’t hunt, she’ll
pack out an elk, butcher and package the meat.
She’s come on many walks with the guns, mainly
to spend time with me. Now that we have
Schmoo, it’s more of a family activity and a reason
to run the dog.
After three years of taking walks, the day came.
It was a lovely cool September day, and we spent
the morning wandering around trying to decide
where best to look for grouse. After a few hunts
with no luck, we continued pressing on through
the pines and sage. As the day wound down, we
took a drive to give Schmoo a break, but we still
had one more short romp to go. As we geared back
up with water, guns and dog, we figured there was
no chance of us getting any birds that day.
Suddenly Schmoo’s tail and entire body started to
take on a new appearance, senses heightened, hair
on edge: she became a hell bent, wiggling black
bird hunting machine.
In seconds, we covered most of a field and were
headed toward the woods. Then, up from the sage
flew four grouse. Schmoo bounded around, and
I brought up good ‘ole Betsy and dropped two of
them. To my side I heard a BOOM and
then a SQUEAL!
I turned to see my wife jumping up and
down like a little girl with the biggest
glow on her face and the widest smile
Schmoo appeared from the bushes with
a bird tight in her grip; it was Summer’s
trophy. As Schmoo dropped the bird,
Summer was still glowing. All those years
and miles had paid off.
Ending the day on a good note, we headed
home to feast on bacon wrapped grouse
and a few well deserved cold beers. And
of course an extra scoop of food and love
for that wonder dog, Schmoo.

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