Today I woke up at 4:50 AM. On purpose. I was going to go hunting with Oscar today. At least, that’s what I thought I was doing. Lets rewind.
On Monday I had lunch with the whole family (Luca, Donatalla and all of Donatella’s family). Luca and I ended up at Oscars house watching a video about how he goes hunting and uses dogs to point out the birds. It was pretty cool, and he offered to take me with him. It ended up that he was going today, and I went with him.
What I ended up doing was not what I expected. If you don’t like seeing guns, dead animals, or gratituous nudity (just kidding, or am I?), then please, don’t feel like you have to read the post.
So like I was saying, I woke up at 10 till five this morning. After deciding that I really had nothing other to wear, I went with the dirtiest jeans I had, and a T-Shirt. Oscar arrived at 5:30, and we drove to his friend’s house. It took about 10 minutes to rouse him, and half an hour later we were on the road. I wasn’t introduced to his friend really at all, but got in his good graces when he tried to light his 7:20 cigarette, and didn’t have a lighter. Luckily, I had mine, and he finally talked to me.
By 8:30 we got to the game wardens house. Then the oddness started. I had noticed that Oscar had a pheasant in the car, which was strange. Then, he bought 7 quail from the warden. Now I was really confused. Why would he buy the birds? To release when he shot others? To shoot? To eat? I had no idea, I just kinda rode along.
We drove down to two connected, open fields, that both were cut low, but had patches of higher grass. There were signs around that said “Type C Dog Training Ground.” After letting the dogs run around for half an hour or so, Oscar went and got the quail.
When he opened the box, one of the quail managed to hatch and execute an escape plan. Oscar let loose with a string of curses that I really wish I could have written down. I’m sure it was impressive.
After Oscar got one of them out of the box, he tucked it’s head under its wing and started swinging it around. This evidently sufficiently confused the bird, and he stashed it in a patch of the taller grass. Oscar hustled back, loaded his shotgun, and gleefully handed it to me. I dutifully took it (I hadn’t held a shotgun in 5 years, but it came back pretty quickly), and he let his dog loose.
It was sort of neat, watching the dog find the bird, then freeze close to it, then wait for me to get close, then scare it up. The first I cleanly missed, and didn’t realize that 3 rounds were loaded. Oh well.
Oscar quickly stashed another bird, and we went at it again. This time, I had gotten a feel for the gun, and summarily put the bird down. The dog went and retrieved it, and I felt both proud and guilty. It really wasn’t hunting, it was just target practice.
Since Anthony’s dogs were still scared of the shotgun, he just hid his birds and let the dogs chase them around. I think the most impressive thing I saw all day was when one of his dogs scared a bird up, then chased it across the field, leapt up in the air, and brought the bird down himself. It ended up getting away, but it was still pretty awesome to watch.
After the quail were gone, Oscar tried to stash the pheasant. Almost immediately, it “woke up” and started walking around in the short grass, looking confused. Oscar scrambled back and tried to sneak around with his canine. The bird flew off into the forest, and we managed to scare it out once more, but then it was gone.
We ate lunch, which was actually pretty good. Each of the two men had brought enough food and wine for three people, and we ate basically everything. Anthony brought 4 sandwiches, dessert (a sweet bread), and a liter and a half of wine. Oscar brought fried meat (couldn’t tell what it was, exactly), tomatoes, cucumbers, another liter and a half of wine, and a big loaf of good bread. Out came the pocket knives, and we basically just tore at the food with our hands and knives.
After lunch, we packed it up and headed back. Later, Oscar gave me my prize, a very dead, very feather covered quail. I took it back to the castle and was instructed by Donatella to de-feather it. So I did. Surprisingly, I was completely fine with it. It really didn’t bother me. After service, Donatella made a great sauce, and cooked it for me. It was quite tasty.
As far as I can remember, this was the first animal I had actually killed myself, then eaten. It was a memorable experience. I’m not sure if I’d do it again with quail, though. It took me damn near half an hour to de-feather ONE freakin quail. I’ll just keep having mine done for me, thanks.