Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last Day of Hunting & On To Louisiana

We awoke Friday morning to 20 degrees and a light dusting of overnight snow, with gusts of 10+ mph. Luna was quick to do her morning business and didn’t need much coaxing to come back inside the game room. After her feeding I headed to the main house for my morning coffee and juice, returning 10 minutes later. Although Luna had been indoors for 10 minutes, she was trembling and even had a little teeth chatter going on and I was second guessing if I should allow her to hunt our last day. I asked the ranch’s owner Curt to take a look at her and after thumb pressing her gum, showing a white to pink return, he allayed my concern, attributing Luna’s shaking to nervous energy. “You didn’t drive her almost 2,000 miles not to hunt her, did you?”

I was glad we did as Friday was by far Luna’s best day in the field (mine too) and given it was our last day of hunting, there was no regret or second guessing decisions. It had warmed up to the mid-twenties, but the wind was blowing hard and cold out of the north, making any unexposed [face] skin feel like it was being pealed back. You would have never thought Luna had been shivering earlier as she was blow and go in the field. The ice crystals on the corn () stalks would fall on her dark red coat and look like little diamonds sparkling in the early morning sun. She hunted really well, getting on three solid points, flushing a good dozen plus birds and had a couple of fine to-hand retrieves to my buddy Scott Riddle. I did pretty well too, with three, clean solo birds and shared shots on another ½ dozen. As a group we finished the day with 37 pheasant and 113 on the three days, all on Curt’s Wagon Wheel Ranch & Bird Dog Lounge.

After lunch, I go us packed, loaded, said our goodbyes and headed to the west and south in an attempt to link up with Paul Hermes, a fellow Floridian and Vizsla human who was in Gregory, South Dakota hunting pheasant with his father and brother. I wanted to see Paul as I had read about his “ridiculously goofy hunting hat” on our TBVC Yahoo forum and had hoped to acquire an image for this blog. No such luck! It turns out Gregory County, South Dakota has a) no AT&T signal or co-share (my cell carrier), and b) not a single pay phone anywhere. After multiple attempts I decided to go ahead and head out of Gregory, heading out on US 18 to get on I-29 South. I finally did get cell signal and reached Paul while he was in a field looking for a pheasant he shot. Luna and I continued on an incredible 150 mile drive east on a two lane road through some outrageous South Dakota countryside…lots of towns with less than 500 population and lots of Lewis and Clark territory.
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Once we got on to I-29 I was determined to get as far south as possible so that Saturday’s big drive would get us as close to Sunset Louisiana as possible. We made it as far at St. Joseph, Missouri (300 miles) and checked into a Drury Inn. The next day we were able to get to Texarkana, Texas where we checked into a Ramada Inn…a slight edge above our hospitality experience of Alachua’s Royal Inn. The upside was it left us with only a 4 hour drive to Eddie & Adele Neupert’s farm in Sunset, Louisiana, which I was itching to get to. It was nice to see Mary Rathbun and Luna’s relative dogs Kokeny and Harvielu “Harvi” who earned her AKC Junior Hunter at the trial that was taking place. We were also able to visit with Adele & Eddie’s Carter, Luna’s “twin” sister from a prior litter.

We got a great family photo of me, Luna and her sisters and then were able to run the dogs after the hunt test was over. Luna, Kokeny and Harvi were able to chase up a pheasant and a ½ dozen quail. Soon afterward, Mary needed to get on the road to return to Minden, LA and after helping Eddie with some clean up chores, I met him & Adele at a local Mexican restaurant before returning to their farm for the night. Monday morning Luna and I made it to my sister-in-law Cindy and her husband Robert’s home in one of my favorite cities…New Orleans.I advantaged “alone time” to get a great massage to work off the 3,700 miles of road I’ve driven in 10 days and visit The National World War II Museum, something I’ve wanted to do for years in my NOLA visits, but have never had the chance. Picked up Ginny, Ally, Jessie and the rest of the Ft. Myers portion of our family at the airport Tuesday evening and checked into out B&B, the Margaret Gardens Inn. Today we delivered Thanksgiving baskets to a 1/2 dozen disadvantaged families in New Orleans and tonight (Wednesday) we’re going to do the New Orleans Original Ghost & Vampire Tour.

Needless to say, we have been blessed with so much good in our lives, for which we are incredibly thankful. Wishing you & your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Sal & his Family

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