FERTILIZER SPRAY TANK
Lessons Learned From A Dogs First Retrieve
The bird came running back through the alfalfa; he was heading for the safety of the tall weeds in the CRP. It was the last day of the 2000 season; Tony was completing his first full season as my Bird Dog. He was a year old on September one, so he was old enough to learn the upland bird game. Is what I thought; only he was teaching me a thing or two. All season long we did not lose any birds, but Tony didn’t retrieve any either. He would run to the bird put a paw on its’ head and hold it down until I got there. Dead or cripple made no difference he treated them all the same.
My son Len and I went to a CRP area near Rosalia, Washington to start our last day hunt. We had no more than entered the field. I wanted to go left, but Tony went right and at the edge of the weeds, went on point. I walked over to Tony and the Rooster took flight before I could get in front of Tony. I rushed my shot and only crippled it. The Rooster had his feet running before he even hit the field of mowed down alfalfa.
The bird took off running toward a fertilizer/herbicide spay tank about 100 yards away in the alfalfa field. Tony seeing that took off in full chase. They got under the tank and went around a few times. Tony got caught up in some of the spray hoses. The Rooster seeing Tony was hung up took off for the CRP. Tony wasn’t hung up that bad, a few shakes and he was free and giving chase once again. The Rooster got to the CRP. He must felt safe in the CRP and stopped. For when Tony got there the bird started jumping and fighting Tony. It was just a few yards inside the CRP. Finally Tony got it pinned and low and behold he picked it up in his mouth. I gave him his “Here” command and be came to about 3 feet from me.
He then decided it was his bird and started to run away with it. I blew “Whoa” on the whistle and he stopped. But every time I got close to him he would move away just out of reach. I forgot about the “Whoa”. I wanted him to give me the bird. It was still very much alive. He was just riding around in Tony’s mouth with his head held high.
Then it hit me, I remembered reading that when this happens DO NOT chase the dog. Just turn and walk away. I did that, it wasn’t long, a few seconds or so and I felt a brush against me leg. I looked down there was Tony walking a perfect heel right along with me. He was still carrying the bird. I stopped and knelt down on one knee. I held out my hand, but did not say a word. He dropped the bird in my hand. I took care of the bird with Tony watching, I was still knelt down. I said, “Tony you wonderful dog. You made your first retrieve.” I gave him a hug and he put his paws On my shoulders, he was as happy as he could be. I gave him a drink of water and said, “Let’s go, find the birds” and he went happily bouncing away.
It is heck going through the off-season wondering. If your dog will retrieve for you the next season. For I never got the opportunity to find out that day. Well he does and he has lost very few birds in the nine years I have hunted him. I can only remember 3-4 in those nine years.
Bird Hunting With Man's Best Friend, Is As Good As It Gets.
Written By Field Staff Member Bob