The Best Time of the Year

Here it is the end of September. The Upland season has begun in some parts of the country. In other parts we have only had our Dove season come in thus far. While there are other seasons that have opened such a archery and early ducks there is nothing to me more exciting than the opening of the Quail season.

 The anticipation of the unknown of did I do enough conditioning for the dog and myself. How is he going to perform on the birds will he be steady out of the gate or do we have to correct while we are hunting. Is he going to be difficult to handle or is it going to be a hunt where I can enjoy the outdoors and not have to whistle after him. Did I spend enough time at the range getting my shooting in order and put the birds down quickly.  These are the things that I think of and that add to the excitement of the opening day.

 The last training session that I was able to do was with a friend from work and his brother in law. We met up in the morning before it got too hot. The dogs were my Setter Cash, and then Hattie the GSP owned by my friend and the GSP named Sam owned by my friends brother in law. To say that the Setter, as a breed, is outnumbered around here is an understatement.

 The purpose of this was to just get the dogs on some birds and get the summer doldrums out of the dogs and out of ourselves.

 First up was Hattie.  We put a few birds out for her in a controlled situation and turned her out. In a short time we had her in to the first bird. The wind was not the best but she got in the scent cone and nailed a nice point. She stayed in place all the way through to the flush. 

She performed like this for the rest of the time that she was on the ground and gave nice performance in allowing  her owner to move in for the flush. She and him are going to have a fun season.

 Next out was Sam. He is a young dog and going into his second year. Sam is a handsome dog. I think he has a wonderful confirmation and when he got moving he was covering the ground effortlessly and with some style.

We turned him loose and his youthfulness was on display immediately. He at first didn’t want to range to far until he got a little more comfortable. Then he opened up his gait and moved smoothly across the field we were in. We get him to move in the direction we wanted  him going and into where the bird was planted. He goes past the trap the first time. I attribute it to the wind. He turns and goes up the other side and slams into a point that is intense and solid and lets you know there is no doubt that a bird is right there. As his owner moves in Sam does not move.

 For a young dog he is doing really good. We flush the bird and he gives a chase. His owner calls and he leaves the bird and returns to his owner. That is impressive to me because of the inexperience of the dog and he is fully under control without a lot of use of the collar. He does this same routine on all the birds we give him and each time he gets more and more intense. This, in my humble opinion is going to be a really nice dog when he gets where he is going.

 Next out of the box is the lone setter in the group my boy Cash. We get the birds planted for him and get him on his way. It doesn’t take him too long before he is on the move and changing gears. I give him a whistle and turn him in the direction that I want him to go. He moves along with the confidence of a dog that has been on a bird and knows what he is looking for. As he moves in towards where the bird is planted he gives us a point that is pretty typical of him in training situations. His head is up and his tail is straight behind him.

 I move around him and release the bird from the trap and he breaks at the flush which is the way I like him to perform. The bird goes about twenty yards and he picks it up. I command here and back to my hand he brings the bird alive and unharmed. I am very pleased because until I force fetched him he would just mouth the bird or even worse try to eat it. So I am happy to see that it is paying off. We run a few more birds and then it starts to get hot so we pick the dogs up and water them and then when they relax a little we put them in their crates, we talk about the morning and go our separate ways with smiles on our faces.

 This being the last time the dogs were on birds and the season is upon us. The excitement as I said earlier is building to see if the opening day is going to be something of memories for great points, flawless shooting and amazing retrieves or is it going to be a memory of busted birds and missed shots and dogs that run away with the bird.

 Either way the best time of year is here and I want to wish all a safe and successful season and lots of enjoyable memories in the Uplands.

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