Last night Pop, Tipper and I loaded up and headed down the road to a nice open tract of woods, we weren’t expecting to finds bird in it but were anticipating a nice 25-30 minute run to brush up on staying forward while making some near 90 degree turns in direction. I suppose it was just as much brush up work for me as it was them. Having watched and judged a slew of Pop’s peers this past Saturday I was pretty pleased with how he looked and ran. I also think he shape up nicely into a finished dog whether mine or someone else’s… I expect the former.
Without birds, there wasn’t a whole lot of action, the wind was a hair gusty and both dogs stretch the limits of long-range bells as it is so Pop ended up with the usual long range bell and Tipper ended up with one that had the amish kids in the valley wondering why the school bell was ringing during supper hour. Both dogs still managed to skirt out of audible range for a few minutes. I hadn’t run dogs in this patch since early this past fall when my nine year old daughter and I had two pups, one Pop and a pointer in there running (the pointer I’ve since parted ways with). I was only reminded of that when I came across a cheap blue nylon dog lead my daughter lost there… which is precisely why she was given the cheap blue lead.
At 28 minutes I called Tip and Pop back in and connected them at either end of a lead. They are in better shape than I predicted. We had a 1/2 mile impromptu heel command refresher on the way back to where the truck was parked. Pop did well even though I really don’t start heel until derby age. I’ve come to like pups brazen at a level most hunters would find intolerable which, has nothing to do with how they’re bred, but how OR how they’re not obedience trained. They only time it bothers me is while getting them belled before a run. At home, they know the routine and are plenty affable. I loaded them back up and sat in the truck for a few minutes, there was still quite a bit of daylight remaining and I decided to swing into a spot quick to prospect for some woodcock with Tipper.
After re-belling and collaring Tipper, a short walk had us in some prime woodcock habitat. It was less than a minute after that he was on point. He’ll be four in about two weeks, I wasn’t anticipating trouble on woodcock manners. As I began to circle in from out to his side I heard his bell jingle. “Whoa!”, it stopped. I got in a flushed what I would guess was a big hen. He took a few steps and had to be whoa’d again. The GunX barked, he took a few more, “Whoa”, e-collar zap (to get his attention, not punishment) and I walked up to him growled whoa at him again. Granted he’s been out of the mix on birds for about two months with the ice and crust, but broke is broke, and he’s almost four… “the bar don’t bend at this point”. I saw the area where the bird flew and dropped back down into. I made Tipper remain steady as I went over to re-flush it. Surprisingly, I walked right into it and it started running back in the direction of Tipper (this wouldn’t have been a good bird for a young) unfinished dog. I corralled it pretty good back within about the same distance he initially pointed before walking swiftly in and put it back up. It flew directly over him about 10′ above. He never moved even through the GunX crack. He had zero style though as he was just earlier put under pressure. This was the same patch we limited out in one evening 2 seasons earlier when he handle three flight birds.
After a stroke or two and his release 70 yards later his pace slowed and his tail began cranking, he was working something. Now out of sight, his bell stopped. I walked in to find him in an awkward stance very intense. I snapped a photo and went into flush. I was looking for a bird and saw a clump of feathers. A step further and I saw the heads of two male Bobwhites one on the left of the clump, the other one the right. In disbelief I tried to snap a few iPhone photos. As I walked in further the males darted, tto females then scattered as well, a covey of four birds. Not one flushed, they all took off running. Tipper creeped some more and had to be “barked” at again, four “wild” (not in a bird launcher or at the house) birds took off running in all directions 6′ from the tip of his nose, wheels vibrating ready to come off. But it didn’t end up in a manner-meltdown Not getting one up I released him to relocate and try to pin one. The male he had trailed would have none of it and rocketed off. Frankly, I’ve never seen a quail takeoff that fast and that strong. He stopped to flush and I walked him out at heel scratching my head to sit in the truck and rehash it all and study phone pictures before I turned the engine over and rolled home. What it all amounted to with him was revealing an incentive to keep quail, chukar and homers this summer to present, particularly he and the older dogs different scenarios. I suppose this spring will have me build a third loft, specifically for chukar.