Friday, October 29, 2010

South Dakota - Finale

yes, I know - I already typed this up though, so I'll post it then go back to adding more pictures and video's of the puppies, which takes some time...  thanks for hanging in there!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Today was a great day. It was, to me, the epitome of why we came here. Our young string of dogs has had hundreds of bird contacts and gradually, they are putting the pieces together. It was a day of singular hunting. Rod and I have very much enjoyed each other’s company – today I yearned to just spend time alone with my dogs, and Rod felt the same. To come to this place, be alone with your thoughts and your dog is an enormously fulfilling and satisfying experience.

Hank and I went to a several hundreds of acres open prarie field that had old coal diggings at the back of it. He launched with exuberance having had Thursday off and swallowed the dry grassland with each powerful bound. Not long, he passed over a rise and I could only see him on the Garmin Astro receiver I carried. He swung left to right and passed over the coal dig tailings at the rear of the property. Here movement slowed, then the Garmin chirped that he was on point. I could not see him, he was beyond my sight and nearly 400 yards out. I began resolutely to walk towards him, mostly expecting another bump or wild flush. The yards ticked down slowly on the Garmin and between us now was a large pond, which I had to detour, backtrack and resume my long trek to the standing dog. Climbing up the rise I reach the top after at least a five minute hike and the Garmin indicates he’s about 34 yards away – I see his flash collar through the brush, still unmoving. As I approach, two pheasant give wing. The first breaks from cover to my right – a hen. The second pitches up and straight away downslope and my shot finds it’s target, tumbling the bird among the broken sage and grass slope. These are the moments one hopes for when hunting. At that moment, all things came together. The dog suddenly understood fully the aspect of hunting together and for the remaining hour and a half he stayed in contact with me as he never had before. We were becoming a team. Finally.

Scarlet also has the fire of our breeding. Though not as independent a dog as Hank, she definitely has her own mind. Of particular interest to me, twice this week, unbeknownst to me, I dropped my tri-tronics electric collar transmitter through my vest rather than in the front pouch where I keep it. Scarlet twice smelled and pointed the transmitter, saving me several hundreds of dollars and the aggravation of replacing it!

How she found them, whether it was the scent of my hands or from some bird smell from it’s riding in my hunting vest, I will never know. What I DO know is that she was very happily rewarded and told what a fantastically wonderful dog she was when she located them!

The week has found her overly excited with hundreds of bird contacts, many being multiple bird rises, whether coveys of sharptail or bands of pheasant, not many of her contacts were solitary birds. Her first introduction was on a treeline the first day that she and her cohort in Crime Bailey bumped and chased probably around 40-50 birds with several coming up together at nearly every stride. That’s enough to unglue even a seasoned dog, let alone a couple of first season youngsters. But, eventually she began to respond a bit better and work more “with” me than to pursue her own dreams and aspirations. When I began to drop birds and she discovered her natural retrieve to hand, we – like Hank and I earlier in the day – began to gel as a team.

We paired up on sharptail and pheasant alike and my shooting was improving along with that of the dogs. The end of the day found Scarlet and my efforts rewarded with a nice brace of Sharptail Grouse, a rooster pheasant that gave her the slip and fine memories of time spent together in simple yet breathtaking landscapes.

I look back with happiness that I was able to share this with great dogs and a great friend.  I already miss being out on the Prairie, and the dogs are looking at me at home wondering the same thing - when can we go back...

I hope next year brings a couple more friends with us - who knows, it could be you! 

1 comment:

  1. An adventure of a lifetime. Many field trialers I talked to at this weekend's field trial, have never hunted South Dakota but always want to.
    Great time.