My Rule Number One: Don’t Bird Hunt For Business by Tom Word

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Soon after I became a bird hunter I adopted a rule: Don’t take anyone bird hunting in search of law business. I had figured out you only wanted to bird hunt with a few folk who shared your love of the dogs and the sport, folks who were safe and not game hogs. .

I broke the rule only once, and regretted it. Here is that story.

Reid Feld (not his real name) was a high-pressure high-volume insurance salesmen, constantly after me for referrals and promising reciprocity. I avoided him mostly. Then one evening he called and proposed we hunt duck next morning from a blind he rented nearby that by reputation assured a quick limit, then hunt quail in the afternoon on my territory and with my dogs. In a moment of weakness I agreed.

We met way before dawn next morning and drove to his blind together. On the way he pumped me for referrals . By the time we reach the boat dock I was regretting accepting the invitational. When we reached the blind I saw he was shooting three-inch magnum 12s . My heart sank. In the blind ducks attacked and he blasted aggressively, shooting across in front of me at my birds as well as those approaching from his side. In fifteen minutes I had one duck and he had his, and the rest of my, limit. I also had ringing ears and a fierce headache from his muzzle blasts.

We returned to the dock and drove three counties away to hunt quail in the afternoon. The temperature was rising and my ears still ringing. Then we reached our destination and turned loose my dogs. My heart sank when Reid again pulled out the 12 gauge auto loader. Thankfully he did not insert 3-inch shells.

We started a trek across a big cutover. The heat rose and I halted standing on a
stump to remove a layer of undershirt. When my torso was bare, one of my dogs pointed half-way between Reid and me. Reid walked to the point, and I said “go ahead and shoot the rise”( I knew by now he would have shot it in any event).

A single got up, and I followed its flight with my eyes. It swung in its flight toward me, and from the corner of my eye I saw Reid swing on it. Standing on the stump still and shirtless, I leaned forward toward Reid so my eyes would not be exposed to birdshot. His shot rang out and I felt birdshot hit my hat.

I looked up just as Reid said, “ I didn’t shoot toward you.” Just then, my dog went to the downed bird and picked it up, half way on a straight line between Reid and me, contradicting him exquisitely. I put my shirt on in silence and began my walk back to our truck. “Hunt’s over,” I said, my dog bringing me Reid’s bird.

We drove the hour back to Richmond in silence. I never hunted with Reid again for birds or ducks. And I never again hunted in search of getting law business.


About the Author

Tom Word
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Tom Word is a lawyer who represents individuals about managing their assets and for amusement writes fiction and non-fiction about bird dogs and humans obsessed with them.


About the Artist

Leah Brigham
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After graduating from Millersville University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s of Science in Art Education, Leah began teaching Art to inner city Middle School students in Houston and later Dallas, TX. Leah has shared with her students her passion for art and nature. This passion has sustained her and continued throughout her life in the form of painting and drawing.

Leah was introduced to American Field Horseback Field Trails and has been able to experience the excitement of seeing her own dog, competing for the National Championship at Ames Plantation in Grand Junction, TN ...standing on point, head and tail held high. This has inspired her to create works of art depicting dogs and the wildlife associated with the sport and hunting.

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