Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Trust Your Dog

Long ago and not so far away I was an upland game and waterfowl hunter.  Before, that is, my     knee  went bad and I switched to hunting birds with a camera and a notebook, it was a sport I thoroughly enjoyed. I owned a series of highly trained hunting dogs long before Baron, my GSD, arrived on the scene. Chessie was the name of our second dog. She was a full-blooded Chesapeake Bay retriever. Stockier and more broad-chested than Labs and Goldens, she had short, curly and somewhat oily hair. Chessie absolutely love being in the water. Cold didn't faze her at all. In other words, Chessapeakes are the perfect waterfowl retrieving machines.

This morning, as Baron lay beside me and I looked out the window on a cold and dreary day my thoughts drifted back to the times when wonderful hunting dog companions led me through the fields, sloughs and around farm ponds. Come on along with me….
Picture of Chessie as a puppy.

On one  particular day though, I was pheasant hunting. Chess   was   about eighteen months old and   in her first year of hunting. She  had already proven herself ready, willing, and able to retrieve ducks. Pheasants though would, perhaps, be another matter. That game bird required steely nerves and a good nose. I left school as quickly as I could getting out the back door that late afternoon. It was less than 2 miles to one of my favorite sloughs.There was a little creek running through about 30 acres of grassland and cover. Chessie started sniffing the ground right away. We had walked in for about 5 minutes when the first rooster flushed. It was a tough crossing shot. BANG!
Hey... sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. The bird dropped into the grass about forty yards away. Chessie was right after it. I followed on the run. I watched    her    circle a bit and then head off to the creek. She went right in the water. "Well what can you expect from a water dog," I thought. At that point, I decided it was up to me to find the bird. I searched for ten minutes. Then I called the dog. She came reluctantly. I got down on all fours and putting my nose to the ground showed her the proper technique. No interest on her part whatsoever. Maybe a little amused smile though. Then she raced back to the creek The stream was about two feet wide there. It had a bank of about the same height, where it had cut through the meadow. Still in the water, Chess seemed particularly interested in this one spot. I thought, "do you suppose" and bent over to look down into the water. Nothing. Then, I lay on my stomach for a closer look. Reaching down, I parted the grass hanging over the bank and there it was..... a large hole in the bank. Mmmmm. The dog, now emboldened, began a low growl and put her head closer for a look. It was obviously some kind of den. Maybe a beaver? Or what?

Now, at this point, one must consider common sense. Reaching into a den without knowing what one might encounter there raises some serious questions. To put into perspective what happened next, one must also take in account  several factors. The age of the hunter for one thing. How young, foolish and determined is he? How much faith does he have in a puppy who has never tracked a bird before? Well, as my uncle Walt often said, "Ve gets too soon alt unt too late schmart." The answer, dear reader, is that I reached into the dark, hoping to find feathers and not sharp teeth! My lucky day, it was feathers. Live and kicking feathers on a very smart pheasant. After doing what you have to do, I gave the bird to Chess to carry a bit . Then we began hunting again till dark sent us back home For the next ten years Chessie proved to be a wonderful hunter-companion. She was the best! I had learned on that first day in the field to trust her judgement implicitly. Here she is with a late season pheasant in the snow.

23 comments:

  1. I would love to see you down on all fours, with your nose to the ground! However, I would NOT have stuck my hand in the hole, or been able to "do what you have to do". Yikes!

    ReplyDelete
  2. she was a beautiful, smart and talented dog, for sure. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Haha, I love imagining that young TB teaching a dog how to hunt. A cute story, TB

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great post, TB. Yeah, imagine if it was a river otter with young ones....how did you cook the pheasant? I haven't had a dog in years, but the last one, a Newfy/Husky mix was a character.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love your new picture with the absolutely handsome German Shepherd.
    Your stories remind me so much of my late husband. He loved the outdoors and hunting or just walking in the woods with his dogs.
    Thanks for the memories...yours and mine !

    ReplyDelete
  6. i too was amused at your getting down on all fours,LOL.A good bird dog is fun to watch in action, whether hunting or not.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fun post! I wonder who was teaching who? ;)
    xo Catherine

    ReplyDelete
  8. Got a giggle out of your yoga position--downward facing dog. Was pulling for the pheasant but that is why I make a poopy hunter. I had a rabbit do the very same thing to me on my first and last hunt with my beagle as a 12 year old. That bunny ended up on the dinner plate like your pheasant but I lost my taste for the hunt.
    Beautiful dog.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Chessie is beautiful. Smart pheasant indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh what a very clever dog and for you to trust is what it is all about. I am certainly glad it was not teeth:) B

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a smart dog Chess was. A Natural!
    She had a great nose to sniff out the hidden pheasant. Hmm, I'm not sure I would have reached into a dark hole, but glad it worked out okay for all concerned.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Great story!!!!! AND YES---we do need to trust our dogs. Sometimes they are smarter than we are!!!!!

    Sorry you can't do that kind of hunting any longer.. Bet you miss it... BUT--getting good photos of birds is also quite special!!!!

    Have a great day.
    Betsy

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love all kinds of dogs, but I must say that Chessie looks like she was one in a million! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Pheasants are wily birds. Smart girl, Chessie.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great story. I often think back on pets that are no longer with me. So sad that they have passed on but we were lucky to have had them.

    I now have 2 GSD's. Tempest is most like your Baron. I'll be getting some new photos of them.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This is a sweet story and a nice tribute to Chessie...however, I would hot have stuck my hand in that hole. Nope.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm visiting from Michelle's. What a sweet dog you had in Chessie. I saw my son on all 4's looking for a lost partridge once...and my man, Bill, takes me along to retrieve for him. The fear of flying things still unnerves him...it seems he was attacked by Banties as a kid. He never got over it. I'm going to follow you. I love the outdoors. We no longer have dogs tho.
    Blessings

    ReplyDelete
  18. She sounds like a wonderful hunting dog! I enjoyed reading about her! Especially the part about you teaching her:)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Loved your photos...awesome dog!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great story. My dad had an English Setter whom he once tried to call off point, thinking it was inaccurate. As he walked over to his dog, two quail flew up in front of him. He said the dog gave him quite a disgusted look. He trusted him after that.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Well, I am not into killing, but enjoy the hunt with a camera as you have learned to do. Nor would I have ever been brave enough to stick my hand down that hole! Actually, I would have taken that poor pheasant to the vet to get him patched up! LOL!
    possum (the mighty Hunter! - Have Nikon, will shoot!)

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a clever dog! I'm happy you switched to photography as I prefer images of alive wildlife, but I do admit to enjoying the tasty pheasant soup my mother-in-law makes.

    ReplyDelete