Hunting Woodcocks

For once, instead of painting realistic dog portraits, here are real loose drawings.
This new hunter's tale illustrates a fabulous hunting party, the closing of the season in 2001.
I just finished the drawings (sept 05)
The last Hunt of the season

It was the end of the shooting season. Brittany has been under the rain for weeks. All the rivers were overflowing and the meadows were like lakes. It was not a problem for us, the forest was on the tableland. It was a shiny winter day at the end of february. Our dogs did not meet any woodcock scent during the first hour, but all at once, in the last part of the wood before the untimbered plain, "Jasper", the pointer, found a hot scent.
My friend Jacques called me: "Cyrille! Come the dog is pointing"
The dog was among trunks of pine trees that have been thrown down by the tempest the year before and it was very difficult to walk in the wood. Jacques, who was 75 years old decided to stay outside, while I had to climb and to crawl to try to get behind his dog. When I arrived there, two woodcocks flew away, but so low, that I could not shoot them. Jacques did not shoot either.

We had seen where each woodcock had landed. The first one was in the middle of the plain, the second one just at the feet of two falling pine trees, 800 meters away from us. Jacques decided to cross the plain, while I was following the borders to try to find this second woodcock.
As I was walking in the ferns, I heard Jacques crying something and then "Bang! Bang!" ... I went on my way. Two minutes later, Jacques shouted something again and Bang! Bang!...
I was a bit jealous of his luck! He was still shouting and waving his arm, to tell me to come...
He was in the middle of this untimbered plain, which was about 200 hectares large. The furrows were full of rain water and the stubs between them were as many obstacles for my walk.

"Cyrille, he said, they are snipes and jack snipes everywhere. He showed me snipes in the sky trying to find a quiet place to land and in the same time, Jasper was pointing. The dog had his nose toward a two meters long puddle. We had a sharp look but did n't see anything. Jacques walked the in the water, till the jack snipe rose from nowhere. It was flying just like a butterfly, passed over my right shoulder, came back above my left arm, before to fly away. We missed this one.
But "Jasper" was already pointing again.
We had great time in this plain. The dog was finding birds all the time. To be honnest, my young labrador was very bad that day and did n't find any jack or snipe. Nowaday, he is much better than Jasper on both birds. Well we shot so many birds, that we were both nearly out of cartridges. As we were coming back to the car, a snipe flew away. I missed my first cartridge and killed her rather far. I saw the bird falling on a stub about 60 meters away. My labrador saw it too.

We were both running to it jumping over the furrows, but my dog was quicker than I and arrived before me. As he was very close to the stub, I saw my bird flying again. I stopped my run and was bringing my gun to my shoulder, when I thought :
"But this snipe is much bigger than the first one ?!? " ... and "..but..but.. it's a woodcock!" ... and Bang!
I killed my woodcock with my last cartridge... while my dog was retrieving the snipe.

Oh Yes! That was a memorable closing day !
Usually in january and february, we walk about 6 hours and are happy if in our quest, we succeed to see one woodcock. Most of the time, one of us don't even shoot a single cartridge.
That day before lunch, I had in my bag : 9 jacks 5 snipes and my woodcock !
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