Five Points, Vol. 4 No. 1Fall 2000
From Ha Jin, “I only write about failure. I never write about success. I never write about important people. I never write about the brighter side.”
The man who has brokered the 100,000 acres doesn’t exactly say, “You should have been here last week”—not in so many words; and in fact, in my eagerness to find birds for my dogs and my wife (a dangerous sentence there, I know; either you understand or you don’t), I misinterpret the broker’s glowing stories of yester-week. I apply them to the present. He’s telling me about a lawyer from Seattle, or maybe it was a doctor, a first time member, who came out here with his family and limited on pheasants by nine, chukars and Huns before noon, and then shot some ducks for good measure. And I believe some valley quail might have fallen too, though I’m not sure about that part. The broker said that the family of them had sixteen pheasants by the end of the first day.
I’m not saying the broker had stacked out a honey hole to impress the rich or the famous. And I wouldn’t want any preferential treatment myself; in fact, I’d choose the opposite. No one wants to hunt under tainted circumstances, any more than you’d want to eat tainted meat.
You have to be prepared to expect nothing. You have to hunt with anticipation but not expectation. I still have not learned this lesson. I still get suckered every time. You have to learn to take what it is the land, and the moment, desires to give you. Your own needs and desires rarely, if ever, factor into this equation.
We’re here for two or three days, depending on how the hunting goes; the children are with the baby-sitter. It’s a vacation: a highlight, a treat. I suppose the fact that I’ve paid to join the big lease—five hundred bucks—is what’s driving the expectations. That, plus the memory of being here as a guest last year of two friends—one rich, the other famous. We got into birds then, too. We got into more birds, I’d venture, than even the Seattle lawyer. We got into more birds than I could ever have imagined. It was ludicrous.