Trouble in the ADK
By John Jarzynski
“Jarzy, we have a problem”.
It’s not actually as riveting as a Ron Howard film, but it certainly hit me hard.
It was in fact one of those extemporaneous endeavors that I would treasure. One of my longtime friends and judging partners, Bruce McNeilly texting back and forth a few nights earlier and as luck would have it, we both were available for the weekend. Despite living some seven hours away from each other, an opportunity to hunt with this future Hall of Famer is all the temptation I needed to load up the dogs and meet him in the Central Adirondack Mountains for one of the last weekends of the season.
We would hunt one of Bruce’s favorite swamps. “The flow is frozen solid” he promised (a note of foreshadowing here). So we collared up four of mine and one of Bruce’s dogs. We even connected to each other’s dogs with our Garmin Alphas as this swamp is vast. Then we donned snowshoes as the snow had a solid 20 inches of base after a long winter. Hare sign was prevalent in the fresh snow and after a short hike, Roxy opened up and the chase was on. Five hounds joined into the revelry. At this point in our lives as we both are comfortably into our mid 40s (writer’s embellishment here) listening to our pack of dogs’ bays and chops echo through the mountains of the Adirondacks has become more of the goal than harvesting our limit of hare. It was a moment we live for, that unmistakable music that quantifies us. Bruce and I share this ideal.
Or so I thought.
“Bang, Bang, Bang”
McNeilly’s 12 gauge interrupted the peace and tranquility of the morning.
“Still running” he reported over his radio. I guess I’d better load my pistol. The hounds turned and circled again. “Did he really bring a 12 gauge?” I pondered.
“Bang, Bang, Bang, “McNeilly unloaded his gun again. This time the hare surrendered. I guess I had forgotten with whom I was hunting. I worked my way to the kill site and there was Bruce with a broad smile, the same look of childlike jubilation I have seen him wear for 25 years. Leave no doubt: he is more at peace in a frozen swamp with his dogs than most any other place (aside from when he’s with his great family).
The afternoon continued with steady running while a few March snowflakes cascaded down through the spruce and cedar. Perhaps I missed a hare with my pistol. My memory is not what it used to be, but as I sat on a downed spruce log to enjoy the music (and maybe check texts) I was interrupted with that fateful call from Bruce over the radio:
“Jarzy, we have a problem. As I look on my Garmin I notice that one of your dogs is not with the pack. He is about 140 yards behind” reported Bruce.
Don’t miss the rest of this article starting on page 34 of our May issue.