When I was about fourteen years old, my stepfather took me hunting during the winter. I wasn't fond of it, but I always liked being outdoors, so I tagged along.
He liked to hunt rabbits, dove, and quail. Myself, not so much. In fact, I lost count of how many rabbits I "pardoned." I have never viewed hunting as a fair sport. Once animals start packing heat, I might change my mind. Until then, I'll let them be.
Perhaps the most memorable trip was on a day we hunted quail. My stepfather and our friend, Johnny, let their dogs out of the dog box on the back of the truck. The two bird dogs leaped to the ground, panting and eager to lead the way. They sniffed the ground and headed into the field.
The morning was chilly and overcast. The muddy soybean field set at the edge of a thick pine forest. The dogs searched for birds over an hour before they finally headed into the woods. This area of the trees had been partially cleared. The dogs crept to a large pile of dead pine branches. Suddenly, they froze and their tails pointed straight up. They had found a covey.
My stepfather, Johnny, and I spread out and eased closer to the dogs. I was nervous because birds are swift, moving targets, and I never had any success shooting one. Apparently, I wasn't the only one that was anxious. We positioned our guns. As I clicked off the safety, my gun fired. Without any hesitation, Johnny fired five shots into the air. No birds had taken flight. And, this is the truth, both dogs turned their heads toward us. The expressions on their faces implied, "What the hell? You idiots."
The dogs flushed up the birds and my stepfather made a few unsuccessful shots. I believe this was the last time I went hunting because I kind of figured if you disgrace your dogs, you're not worthy to hunt.