THIS IS A tale of three hunts. All three were successful, each in its own way.

I was hankering a pa’tridge pie last weekend because I have not had one in quite a long time, and it is the most delicious way of all for preparing and eating that wondrous bird.

My mother made pa’tridge pie as well as anyone in history. She made hers in a deep cast-iron skillet lined and topped with homemade baking powder biscuit crust, and filled with homemade gravy, peas, onions and taters. No pot pie made in a restaurant could ever top it.

On my first hunt, my aim was to bring home a pa’tridge. I failed to succeed at that and yet, the hunt was a total success. How, you may ask?

As it turned out, I could easily have killed two birds on that hunt, had I only pulled the trigger. As one stood at the edge of a road I was driving on to get up to Nebish Lake country where I planned to hunt, it was just too pretty to shoot.

I stopped the truck about 20 yards away as it stood there with ruff fully extended and tail fanned out to match that of any turkey gobbler in full spring strut. Would it have been legal for me to get out on the gravel road and shoot? Yes, but that’s not the way I hunt.

Instead, I watched it pace around, tail remaining stiff and fanned the entire time before it finally took a casual walk into the brush at road’s edge. Right then and there, without getting out of the truck the hunt had been a success.

More was to come. As Gordie, my faithful, but only slightly useful yellow lab, pranced off an old logging road, I looked and saw a pa’tridge sitting calmly not 30 yards ahead. Instinct brought the gun to my shoulder, but as I peered down the barrel, I couldn’t bring myself to shoot. “When it flies, it’ll be a sure thing and much more sporting at that,” I  told myself.

Sporting? Yes, but was I successful at hitting a fast flying pa’tridge as it finally flew into thick cover? No, but though I wasn’t successful in getting a bird for a pa’tridge pie, it was a resounding success in putting a great memory in the bank. Sometimes the value in a hunt is simply what does happen and what is seen rather than what doesn’t happen and what a hunter doesn’t see in the game bag at the end of the day.

My second hunt took place Sunday afternoon. With late afternoon shadows slanting through scattered huge oak branches amidst a thicket of second-growth white pine, Norway pine and balsam fir, I set out on a hunt for the Griswold family Christmas tree of 2020.

Mind you, the hunt’s purpose was not to cut a tree, but simply to find a perfect one on a day when there was 3 inches of snow on the ground rather than 3 feet.

Up a steep hill I went from the back road where I parked, wheezing before I got close to the top, wondering “Why not just head for the nearest Christmas tree lot when the time is right?”

I answered that question as quickly as it flashed through my mind. I have never put a store-bought tree up in my house and as long as I can walk on my own two hind legs, I never will. I hunt for and cut my own Christmas trees for two reasons. The first is that I love to spend a few, or many, hours each year searching the woods for a tree Clark Griswold would be proud of. Secondly, I won’t buy a tree from a commercial lot because they have no character.

They are all one and the same, cookie cutters if you will. They do not have the freshness, the incomparable scent nor the shape of a tree born, raised and cut in the wild.

My Sunday hunt for a tree was three times successful. Within a quarter mile of the truck, I found not one, but three beautiful balsams, all in one small open vale. One of them will be in my living room come December.

To cap off my three expeditions, I looked for and found a fall turkey to fill my tag Monday. I hunted off a snowmobile trail where I walked in about three-quarters of a mile to a place where I knew there was a good brood of turkeys raised this summer. I had no expectations of finding a bird, but as it is with all my hunts, just being out there was reward enough.

There are times when a hunter is successful because of knowledge and skill. There are other times when a hunter is just plain lucky. This was one of those times. Having seen tracks of two birds crossing the grade at one point, I decided to stop and sit about 200 yards beyond.

There was a convenient stump to sit on about 6 feet off the grade. As I sat there and enjoyed a morning quickly warming through the 30s, I thought, as I so often do, how lucky I am to be able to sit in perfect peace and quiet at a remote place in the world with only trees, a few birds, a squirrel or two and a mild breeze to keep me company. As luck would have it, my sit was not a long one. Not more than 10 minutes after sitting down, I caught movement to my right. The movement was a turkey.

I waited and watched. The gobbler was not a trophy, but it was destined for my dinner table. When it cleared the brush and stepped onto the grade, a well-placed load of magnum fours put it down.

I will always remember those two days when luck was on my side three times.