Thinking Back on the Season

Here we are in the middle of summer. I haven’t been on here for a while and I attribute that to the season being out and not a lot of bird dog activity for me right now. The heat in this area has been keeping me and the pup out of the training areas and not doing too much.
So during this time when most people are looking forward to the upcoming season with their new puppy, I am looking back at this past season and the adventures that I had.
This past season was a pretty good one for my dog and I. We spent more days in the field this past season than we have before. We covered some new ground. Hunted some preserves with friends. We ran in a few trials and tried a new format. We finished our Junior Hunter title. This made for a memorable year.
Looking back over the past season there are a couple of events on different hunts that stick out in my mind and I would like to share those with you.
The first one happened early in the season. I was out on a hunt on Camp Lejeune. It was just my dog and I. We were in an area that we haven’t been in before. A small caveat we had a very wet fall and winter here in Eastern North Carolina so there was a lot of water in the hunting areas. My dog goes over a small rise ahead of me and when I get to the top of it he is gone into some thick brush. I check the Pathfinder and see that he has gained almost two hundred yards through this brush and is going away. I give a whistle and a tone on the collar and he turns back in my direction. Then it says he stops. I call and whistle and call again. The symbol for him on the screen is not moving. This goes on for about twenty minutes. I change my position by using the map on the screen and get to where I am only about sixty yards from him. Most of this distance is pretty clear road edge and then into the thick stuff. I get into the thick stuff and check the distance to my dog on the screen and it says fifteen yards. I start looking around and I can see him looking at me. I call to him and he is not moving. I start to head towards him and find that he is on a little island in the middle of a creek and he is not moving. I get to a position where I am about ten feet from him. I put the gun down and mark it with my vest. I grab a small tree and lean as far out as I can and start calling and get him moving. He gets down off the island and swims to the bank I am on and we are reunited.
I gather my gear and we head up to the road. I put him at heel and we start walking to the truck. During the walk out the dog doesn’t seem any worse for wear and I am coming down from the nervousness that all bird hunters know if there ever goes missing for a bit. I am extremely thankful that I have the Pathfinder and I attribute it to saving my dogs life. I say this and I don’t say it lightly that it was thick enough that I would never have found him frozen on that island if I didn’t have it. I am now a big believer in the system.
The next event that I find pretty memorable is a hunt that I did on the morning of Christmas Eve. I told the wife that I was going to go for a quick hunt. The base is really close and I can get out in the field in about fifteen minutes. That is drive and get the dog out of the truck on the ground. That being said I told her that I would only be an hour. We load up and are in the field really quick. We get moving through some sloppy wet area and then hit an edge of pines that looks pretty inviting for us to chase some Bobwhite. After hunting for a while I check the time and we make the turn to hunt our way back to the truck. As we get to a thick edge the dog goes on point. I make my way over to him. Hop a stream and move past him. The entire time I am really impressed with how solid he is, sometimes when I move past him in close quarters he moves a little. Not this time. Just as I move past him up explodes a Timberdoodle. Woodcock to the general population. I get the shot off quickly before the bird can get away into the thick stuff that is right in front of us. He goes down and after a retrieve I have a bird in my hand and I am almost back to the truck. So I get to keep the promise to the wife that I would only be an hour. One hour and one bird is pretty good for around here. That makes for a very memorable time that morning.

The last special event that stands out from this past season is on a preserve with two friends of mine, We have three dogs on the ground and it is a mixed bag of canines. One setter, one GSP and a Pudelpointer. It is interesting to watch the three dogs hunt together.
Now this hunt is a typical preserve the birds are out and we go hunt them up. We are in the middle of the hunt and have a few birds in the bags and are having a good time. After a little while the excitement settles down and the birds are getting a little harder to locate. We change direction and start heading back through the field to see if we can pick up some singles. I get a point out of my dog and move in for the flush. The bird flushes, I drop the bird and the dog is bringing it back. What is so special about that you say. That is what is supposed to happen. I’ll tell you what is special about that, as the dog was bringing the bird back to me he goes on point in front of one of my buddies and his daughter, who is also along for the hunt. I see him on point with a bird in his mouth and I can’t really believe it. I have seen other dogs do this before but this dog is not the most enthusiastic retriever, for him to keep the bird in his mouth and point another is a big deal for me. The funny part of this is that my friend takes the flush and drops the bird. My dog drops the bird in his mouth goes and retrieves my friends bird. While this is happening my friends dog picks up the bird my dog dropped and retrieves that one to me.

Photo By Monica Brady

Like I said earlier this time of year I like to think about memories like these, tell stories and share the experiences with people that like bird dogs and bird hunting as much as I do. I am also looking forward to some training days that will start soon for us and the season to come and the new memories that my dog and I will make.

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