Trying to fill each day with some bird hunting for Millie before rifle deer season promises to be cold for the most part. We hunted a small part of the Game Lands last week and Millie found and flushed a cock pheasant. We saw a few birds but most were along the road and flushed , when we drove by.
The bird she found on her own was in a big field near a deer woods. She ran into the grass and weeds when she made a bee-lint for the bird. It flushed into the woods before I got the gun up and I didn’t shoot. At her young age, Todd told me it was the flush more than the shooting that sounds and he thinks she’s doing great for a youngster less than 6-months old.
She has already flushed twenty pheasants and that was her twenty-first. Garry and I shot three out of ten on her first day, missed a couple and the rest went out the far side of fence rows and we couldn’t shoot. The next time out three of us followed her and we flushed another ten birds, shooting five.
Without following a bird dog takes a lot out of the hunt for me.
I think I’d rather watch a dog work than hunt game birds or even waterfowl. It’s especially fun to watch a young bird dog discover what it’s all about. It’s as if a light goes off in her eyes and from that moment on, she seems to know it’s all about the birds and that’s why she’s there.
Of course there’s a lot of teaching between that first bird and years to come, but Millie has already figured some of it out. She knows to find the bird after I shoot and she seems to know, she’s supposed to bring them back. The hens we shot, she managed to fit in her mouth but the bigger cock birds, she can quite fit. For those birds she grabs a wing and drags it back. I guess it’s all about all the yard work we do with her. We throw balls, retrieving dummies, a green squeaky toy pig that’s mouth full. She brings them all back but sometimes she just has to do a victory lap like a race car driver driving around the track with the checkered flag.
She hasn’t done that with the birds she brought back. maybe she knows the difference between a toy and the real thing.
I enjoy our game lands much more today than I did years ago. I’ve met some friendly hunters with a variety of hunting dogs. The other day I met some fellows, a father and son. The father lived and farmed near Charlotte North Carolina and the son lived outside of Knoxville Tennessee. They had two German Shorthair pointing dogs and were camped at Colonel Denning State Park. They hunted the Game Lands' forebears. The Farmer and a friend are probably on their way to South Dakota by now to hunt pheasants for a week.
Another fellow I met hunted with a 12-year old English setter and on the first day he got his limit and was walking back to the truck.
His dog went on point and he offered me the shot. Millie moved in front of the setter and flushed the cock bird but it flushed low and through the fence row, so I couldn’t shoot. We chatted and he wasn’t sure he should get another dog, since he was getting old but he planned on returning to Virginia, then head south as far as Florida to hunt quail all winter.
Other fellows I’ve met in the game lands hunted French Brittanies, other springer spaniels and a host of continental breeds.
Many were from out of state including my friend John, who lives in West Virginia and hunts with a yellow lab. They all pay for a pheasant stamp and out of state license and all seem to enjoy following their dogs much more than harvesting two pheasants for the pot.