It happens once a year, one excursion I don’t take any notes on… I wait to jot it down here (weeks later) and what I end with is the Cliff Notes version.
It had been awhile, since the trip north in November, down two dogs this time. Carrie the pointer pup moved more than 200 miles NE, placed with a field trialer who runs pointers. Annie with her broken tail, on the injured reserve roster. I was told that each time the truck took off down the road with just three of the four Easy Loader Kennel bays full, she’d voice her displeasure for several minutes knowing she was left marooned. The dogs along were Tipper, Pop, Blaze, Roscoe and Jagger, a boys only trip.
It was frigid, to the point of the rain-guns being brought out and used incase the, at times, sub-zero temps made the gun buttstocks brittle and prone to crack or split on recoil. There was some snow, not enough for the birds to really snow roost but enough to allow them to make good use of snow-enclosed windbreaks under younger hemlocks as well as create nice little pockets up against downed trees, stumps and drumming logs. We got a late start, sometime just before noon I believe. Roscoe was ran first down through the middle of the slashings. He complete it with a solid find on a bird in an older rotting, downed treetop. I’d gotten off to the side, so far of in fact I didn’t hear the 16ga. pump’s ‘chick-shick’ between shots on the bird, misses. Frankly I was impressed there was a followup going from a double to a pump cold turkey.
Blaze started his day off with an unproductive down in the bottom, we wrapped up by coming back and running him through a portion of the slashings, opposite to what Roscoe did, Blaze sort of complete a figure-8 for them. We did have one bird pop up out of the snow behind us and land on one of the bottom limbs still 10′ up a white pine before taking off, darting away. We watched it sail off.
Jagger, who took a 2nd and 3rd place ribbons as a leggy dog in predominantly short-legged-dog trials was ran next. We headed up the main road on the ridge, mostly covered by mostly shin high laurel which is something a leggier dog can handle with better ease than the shorter-legged sort. It has it’s pockets of nice, younger growth that hold birds. It always helps if the dog has some extra fire as there’s sections of that continual shin-high laurel that will still make for some tough going and a passive, older dog or younger puppy will not be able to help themselves from squirting out on the road to get out of it in some portions. Here’s where the events suffer from the Cliff Notes version… I know there was more than one bird moved on his run. He did have a point on a bird out in the pocket shortly after we’d made a hard turn. As we dredged up through the snow the bird went out behind some heavy cover and we found it’s tracks that appeared as though it wasn’t a sitting/settled bird. A lot of the birds at this time of the year up there aren’t new to the game and yet the bird wasn’t pushed enough to flush until we got there and put the extra pressure on it.
Tipper was ran next right down into the main hollow. He wasn’t seen of most of his run (neither were most of the others) but he seemed to be going pretty big and popped out ahead working the side of a southeastern ridge side. It was off that ridge he dropped down deeper into the hollow and his bell went silent. No GPS collar, we actually ended up coming down in just above him and had two go up one after the other that stayed low behind the pines offering no shot. As we continued down in Tipper broke and went to continue on bumping a third. No shot taken.
By the time we got back up out the sun was going down fast, and as a result, Pop wasn’t put down. I’d run him the following week, first out of the truck in the best cover for a tad longer than usual to try and make it up.
On a side note, another trip is planned north this fall for a (to quote my wife) “long week” of dog running and bird hunting. At tad later this year I must admit that I didn’t check the cover dog trial schedule… hopefully I didn’t create conflict. It sounds as if there’ll be at least one serious prospect added to mix as well. As one bird hunter of a different lot is known for saying, it’s all happy, happy, happy.