They Should Know Better by Now

by Jason Duby

For some reason Dani and I have an issue with timing. Seems like anything “big” in life always happens during hunting season. To start things off, our wedding was right in the middle of bobcat season here in Oregon. Now there is a logical reason behind this, and no it was not a shotgun wedding. After dating for 7 years I don’t think she wanted me to put it off any longer. I proposed and 6 weeks later, BOOM, beautiful wedding and a pretty epic reception at the Steve Miller Band’s ranch. Then comes our son Colin… December 24th, 2016. While both sides of our family were concerned about my appearance at our wedding, I assured them I would not leave her standing at the altar alone while I was standing alone under a tree. Needless to say, when it came to our son Colin being born, their concerns were still apparent if not stronger. I was informed I had to stay within the confinements of cell phone service. But I can say that I overcame the temptation of my addiction and made it to both events with time to spare.

Now, enter Duby child #2. Dani and I are expecting our second child, you guessed it… right in the middle of cat season, again. At least this time I have a secret weapon in my arsenal. I know my new Garmin inReach (page 21) will be put to good use. At least the cell phone leash has been removed and maybe I can get a few extra days of hunting in. I guess their concern stems from my obsession with hunting. And at this point I am willing to make the first step and admit, “I, Jason Duby, have a hunting addiction.” I sneak out late at night to get my fix. I’ll be strung out for days, and I usually find myself hanging out with other addicts which is not helping my recovery. But there is one story that I will never forget. I blame all of my dog addictions on this man along with a few of his accomplices. With guidance like this it’s no wonder I turned out like I did.

Tony – “How ‘bout it Duby? Got your ears on?”

Me – “Ya Tony, where you at?”

Tony – “Just sitting at ■■” (this location has been deemed classified for your protection).

Me – “I’m headed up the pavement I’ll be there in a minute.”

We got dogs collared up and let them get their morning stretch. Tony poured himself a coffee while I opted for an ice-cold Mountain Dew (It’s never too early for Mtn. Dew if you have been up all night). After we caught up on all the gossip from the week and were mostly awake, we loaded the dogs back up and got ready to start the day properly, with a fresh blanket of snow on the ground it was time for business.

Then the catch…

Tony – “I have to be out of here by 11.”

Me – “Like off the mountain at 11 or load up and leave at 11?”

Tony – “Well… I reckon if I leave by 11, I’ll be close enough to on time.”

Me – “What’s going on today?”

Tony – “It’s my sister’s birthday today and they’re having a party at her place.”

Me – “Well that sucks.”

Tony – “You know I don’t understand why they always plan this sh*t on a weekend, they should know by now I hunt weekends”

Me – uncontrollable laughter

We went about our morning checking the usual crossings in hopes to find a nice bobcat but it looked as if Mr. Tom had forgotten about our scheduled meeting. Then we checked the not so normal crossings with no luck. To be honest we were running out of ground to cover with Tony’s time restraints. Then 11 A.M. rolls around.

Me – “You going to get headed out soon so you’re not late?”

Tony – “I guess I probably ought to, let’s just run up to the end of the road and get turned around.”

I knew we were both thinking the same thing. “this is it, last chance”. As we approached the end of the road, we knew we had been defeated. Despite our efforts, we were now over the estimated departure time by a solid 15 minutes. After getting turned around, as an act of desperation we decided to throw a couple dogs on the box to rig the rest of the way out. We figured as long as we were heading in the general direction of the birthday party we were ok. As we wound on down the road, they hit. With a strike that seemed to shake the truck, the dogs made sure we knew that there was something worth checking out. No track in sight but a solid strike to say the least. I could see the dogs winding hard down the hill. We both rolled out of our trucks and I walked towards Tony. Dogs still striking and ready to go.

Me – “Too bad this wasn’t an hour ago.”

Without hesitation or even a word I saw Tony’s response to an obviously stupid question. Before I knew it the dog box door was swung open and 3 or 4 old dogs were off and screaming.

Me- “Guess that answers that.”

When the old dogs hit the snow and there was no question it was a hot track, we emptied the dog boxes. We figured that if we were going to have three or four dogs out we may as well dump the box on this one given how fresh the track was. The dogs shot down the hill and started looping back to our left around the point. As we headed down the road after only 2 corners there was the track crossing to the uphill side of the road. Seemed like someone was taking a roadside snooze and got busted. The dogs started side hilling to our right, staying above the road. The last thing we wanted was for Mr. Tom to cross the road and head to the bottom, but another 5-600 yard race and it was all over. Locked down and treed.

The fresh deadening snow blocked everything but the roar from above us. Tony and I headed up to the dogs for visual confirmation. It was a typical Southern Oregon wet snow so we did our fair share of sliding around. Luckily for me Tony is much taller so he kindly knocked the snow off the limbs and made a dry path for me to follow. I don’t think it was on purpose, but it was nice either way.

When we got to the tree, it was one of those moments that everything else just faded away. It was just me and Tony, along with a colorful group of dogs, and a cat in a tree. We gathered dogs and started to slide ourselves down the hill towards the truck. As we got back to the pickup Tony leaned his walking stick against his mirror, shook off his glove and hat, and then with a smile I’ll never forget, he spoke the truth…

“Well, maybe someday they’ll quit planning important sh*t on the weekends.”