MAKING OF A BIRD DOG
The Pheasant flew from under the bush and out over the creek. I swung BANG, SPLASH, in the middle of the creek. I then saw it swimming for the far bank.
Tony, my Brittany was a year old on September 1, 2000; this was the middle of October his first season. He and I were traveling down the highway and I seen a Farmer/Rancher friend of mine. He lets me hunt his land, had a bull out of it’s’ pasture. He was trying to get it back into the pasture. I stopped to give him a helping hand. After we got the bull put away and the fence fixed. We were standing by my SUV drinking coffee from my thermos.
A State Game and Fish truck came by, it stopped about one-half mile down the road. It proceeded to release about 30 Pheasants. We watched and when they were done, I asked Floyd “Is that land Feel Free To Hunt land.” He said “Yes.” I replied, “I think I’ll take Tony over there and give the pup some OJT.” Floyd replied, “Take your gun and shoot a few.” My answer, “Why, won’t they be there tomorrow?” Floyd replied, “No, the coyotes will have a good supper tonight.”
Tony and I topped the first hill and he went on point. I walked in, seen the bird and kicked it airborne. Bang, Bang I missed both shots. I reloaded my 12 gauge O/U, went a little further and Tony hit another point. Bang, Bang missed both barrels again. Then another point same result. Tony hit another point and this bird got up and flew behind me. I spun around and Bang down it came. Tony ran to it, put his paw over its’ head and laid down panting. I was giving him water after each bird, but he was still getting pretty hot.
I walked back up the hill, picked up the bird and put it in my Game Bag. I said to Tony. “Let’s get you down to the creek and cool you off.” We worked our way down to the creek without incident.
There was a Cut Bank about 20 feet high over looking the creek and the wide weedy shoreline. I told Tony to go get some water. He got to the bottom took 3 steps and went on point. “OH MY Goodness Tony, how am I supposed to get down to you?” I gave him various commands, I was not suppose to. But he held firm on his point, like a good bird dog should.
I unloaded my gun, held it high over my head, sat down, and let nature take me down the cut bank. Luckily I landed on my feet. Tony was still on point, 15 feet or so to my right. The weeds I discovered were Western Broom Grass about 5 feet tall. Some were standing and some were lying down. I walked over in front of Tony and started kicking the grass. Tony, firm on point, looked behind him. I kicked some more and Tony looked behind him again. Finally, I said, “Find the bird Tony.” I didn’t know what was about to happen he wasn’t trained for this. He turned and ran up onto the cut bank and went on point by a brown bush that was growing there. As I walked over to him I could see the pheasant nestled into the bottom. I said, “AH HA, he snuck out on you huh.” With that the bird flew out over the creek. Bang and SPLASH, it dropped in the middle of the creek. It swam to the far shore and was climbing out. I screamed “Tony Fetch.” Tony grabbed it by a leg and pulled it back into the creek and let go. “Oh my gosh,” as I ran for the creek. I lost sight of Tony and the bird as I fought my way to the creek.
When I got there, Tony was standing next to the bank on my side of the creek. I said, “Where is the bird.” Tony with his nose touched the weeds overhanging the creek. I knelt down and started parting the weeds back toward him. All of a sudden there was a pheasant head with a blinking eye. I picked up the bird and put it in my Game Bag. That bird was a wild bird for it had no state leg band.
Tony was cool and all I had to do is figure out how to get out of there. I found a Game Trail and followed it back toward where the SUV was parked. Soon I came to where the Game Trail leads up and out.
When I got out Tony was on point. I went in and kicked out the bird. You guessed it, Bang, Bang MISS. The bird flew a short way and sat down near to a windmill. I said. “Tony he should be easy to find and right on the way back to the SUV.” We worked our way over to where it landed and Tony went on point almost immediately. I walked in and up it went and bang, down it came. Tony went to it and pinned it down. I went over picked it up and put it in the Game Bag. I then ejected my shells but did not reload.
“Well Tony you have had 7 good points.” I said. “We have our limit, so let’s go home.” Tony and I went back to the SUV and packed up to leave. As I was driving home, I was reflecting on the day we had. I learned a lot about my dog. He knew more about this pheasant game than I did and it was a new, to me, game. I did know he got his fire lit and he was one happy and tired puppy. I had the makings of a fine bird dog all I had to do is learn what he was trying to tell me. Note: I traded that 12 gauge O/U after the season and got a 20 gauge SxS. I’m still shooting the 20 gauge.
Bird Hunting With Man's Best Friend, Is As Good As It Gets.
Written By Field Staff Member Bob