I spent the spring of 2012 on a bomb dog contract with the Marines of 1st and 3rd LAR. I wrote this on a cot in a little forward operating base on the Helmand River in Afghanistan in a sandstorm.
I’d like to think that if I were home today I would’ve woken up at 4:00 a.m. , slipped out the door, then crawled into the truck where my mesh cammie coveralls with the hood and face veil sat stuffed under the case of my pawnshop Winchester 1300. I’d have cruised by the BP for a big cup of black coffee, Peruvian blend and some beef jerky. From there I’d pull onto Hwy 1 S. towards the big creek bottom I found back in early January with Telly, my fifteen month old French Brittany.
It was only the second week I’d had him and I was eager to get him into what I was sure would be a bumper flight of Woodcock passing through the Sandhills of NC on their way to the ACE Basin, Northern Alabama, or some other southern blood worm buffet. We didn’t put up one sorry woodcock that day, but we learned quite a bit about one another and that creek bottom. What Telly and I discovered was not only that he had a serious talent for treeing squirrels between bouts of unearthing and sampling the decadent tripe of November’s gut piles, but what seemed to be an endless turkey roost above the boggy bottom. We must have walked two miles in, all the while hearing the bass drum of beating wings, one after the other.
Telly on the same bottom Jan 2013
Today I’d be creeping through that soil, sand laced with peat. That stuff is easy to sneak around on quietly if you take your time. I’d place a single decoy right out in the middle of an open piece of bottom just deep enough to get past the other, lazier hunters. My back to a big White Oak, I’d watch the first rays of light hit the moss, waking the bottom up slowly, the steam of its breath hovering as some big tom came down to answer the call of a tattle tale crow.
Yup, that’s what I’d like to think I’d be doing this morning. More than likely though, I’d be hauling my sorry ass out of bed just in time to beat the clock to work. I like the turkey hunter of my mind. Maybe he’ll follow me home from Afghanistan in the fall of the year.