Scrub Oak

Frozen mornings and snow in the forecast has me reminiscing on the past quail season and looking forward to following the pup through the scrub oak in the coming days. While the snow comes to the high country I am looking forward to wandering the high desert. I had my first day out this past weekend and walking through the prickly and spiny scrub reminded me just why these empty places are my favorite. While I’m certainly no writer and definitely not a poet, solo hunts in this country often have me feeling like I could be if I just spent more of my time in places like these.

Hard point in the scrub oak

Brushy cousin with noble relatives

Unremarkable, grey and drab

But to the hunter

And it’s hidden coveys

Treasure in the wastes

Untapped potential over hills and washes

Grey gems in a grey land

Where even the live oak has its thorns

Never falling leaves

Tipped in biting points

Sure to slow a careless path

Yet hiding grey birds

Thrashers, robins and larks

Sparrow and towhee hide in the tangle

But today they are but chaff,

to be left to blow away with the icy northwest winds

In favor of the running quail

Sharp, drab leaves hide emerald budding shoots

Winter grass sprouts hidden

Verdant patches on south slopes

Beneath the anonymous scrub oak

Here is where quarry hides

Often overlooked

Pointing dog is lost in the browns and greys

Rustling bush her only sound

Silence comes when dog has froze

Locked on hidden scent

Scrub oak yields its treasure in frenzied flash

A rush of grey wings beat against blue sky

Feathers slapping feathers

Smashing brush

More heard and felt than ever seen

Shots ring out in broken silence

Feathers floating on the breeze

Grey treasure left on arid ground

Brought and found by chasing hound

Be sure never to overstay your bounds

For next year’s harvest is in these grounds

Bobbing heads fade over hills

Next year’s hatch runs off

Scrub oak’s hidden treasure

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