Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Counting Coup - Six Days in the Trees"

For as long as I can remember, the stories of the battles between the American Indians and the 'white faces' have caught my attention. Of particular interest were those that dealt with the ebb and flow relationships between the Indians and their Mountain Man counterparts. Many a story has been recounted concerning said matters, many a coup counted (or epic recounted).

To the plains Indians any blow counted as coup, but the higher the risk of death or injury, the more the coup counted. Legends were wrought from a warrior counting his coup in the face of the enemy, the most prestigious coup being that in which an Indian warrior merely touched his enemy with a coup stick. Honor was shown to those warriors that faced their enemy, and little to no coup would be counted in attacking an enemy with his back turned.

Maybe these stories are why I am who I am. Maybe that's why hand turned and tuned calls mean so much to me. Maybe that's why I must train my dogs year round, and am currently painting a cork greenhead gunning block for next year. Maybe that's why I have always shunned a spinner for what amounted to four, 15 year old Flambeau's whose paint is finally fading.

Maybe...well, "maybe" can be a lot of things.

One thing is for certain though. That being for six days in the trees, I counted my coup:

Limit of Greenheads and a Custom Walnut Call from 8 Gauge Studios

Tuesdays are tough because that's my first day off in seven days. Generally speaking, I get a bit more fired up when I hear ducks overhead as I'm staggering through the timber to a hole found long ago. A hole that rarely lets me down when the conditions are right - which they were. And on this particular Tuesday, I used being tired and not hearing anything overhead as an excuse. An excuse to stop short of my usual mark and hunt closer to the truck - "closer" being a relative term when hunting on public ground. I'm of the opinion that ducks are here every winter, you just have to be willing to walk a little further and hunt a lot smarter to both find and stay with them.

On this morning everything about me was moving slower making for a frustrating several minutes trying to put the Ole Man tree stand bottom on the tree for Trapper - who was trying to get on the stand and out of the frigid waste deep water the whole of the time.

When it was finally done, I made short work of setting the four decoys (two pair bonds) out, sat on the stand with Trapper, and almost immediately nodded off.

With shooting time approaching I was awaken by a shaking dog who was demonstrating a steady, quiet whine. This was something Trapper never does, and being confused I started to correct him. I never got that correction in because before me sat something I had not been confronted with in some many winters. Hundreds of ducks were sitting on the waters in front of me, behind me and on every side with more trying to find a spot to land.

Shooting light was almost bitter sweet - almost.

At the first shot, the roar of the birds getting off the water was deafening. And, for six days thereafter, I counted my coup and my dogs took their scalps:

Trapper's Limit

I gave the beady-eyed hoards from the North-lands little quarter save for quick limits and early breakfasts to allow more killin' the following mornin':

Watchful Eye

Custom Fiddleback Walnut Duck Call

The shooting was close, the enemy was in my face...

Yea, for six days with four old decoys, two personally trained dogs, one custom made lanyard, and one hand turned and tuned call I counted my own coup...I touched my enemy.

No comments: