Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Even Blind Dogs Can Hunt

Saturday October 24th

Back down to Springfield MN on this brisk morning.  As I drove through town the bank thermometers were saying 25 degrees.  I unloaded Marge and Tina to start the hunt.  I put on a full coat and heavier gloves and was hoping that would be warm enough. Our first rooster got up pretty soon, too soon actually.  We were working the tailwind along a batch of willows and the bird burst out of the far side before I was really ready.  I should have been able to make the shot as I had connected on a few similar ones at the skeet range a few evenings before. I didn’t connect.   We moved on. This unit has a lot of cover and a lot of birds. Sometimes the going is slow because there is so much scent.  We made to the end of the field moving just one more hen, as we hit the end we moved south along the fence line and then west along another fence.  I was expecting to see a bird or two along the fence as it has heavy cover and bordered a field of cut corn.  About 1/4 of the way down the field a small draw goes from the cornfield to the upper parts of the CRP field we were hunting.  Both sides of the draw have heavier cover and the dogs start to work the area. The dogs were showing a lot of interest in the are so I moved out a little ways to give them some room and to hopefully cut off any pheasant on the run.  The dogs started moving quicker and then stopping quickly. After about three lockups they held and I moved in and started to kick the clumps of grass and nice sized rooster came up.  Remembering that I was behind on the first bird I shot at I tried to lead this one a bit more and when I shot I could see that it was a wing shot and the bird was on the move as soon as it hit the ground.   Fortunately Tina saw him go down and was working the cover and finally got him after a few missed lunges.

After putting the bird in the game bag continued down the field. As we came over a small rise I could see a number of roosters and hens jumping from the grass into the standing corn that was at the end of the field.  I was hoping a few lazy / inexperienced birds would be left in the grass.  There were a few but unfortunately they were all hens. After crisscrossing the field a bit more I decided to give these two dogs and myself a break.

I changed into a dry shirt and switched to a vest instead of the jacket.  I also changed out the Beretta 391 Ultra Light for a 16 gauge Browning Lightening Feather.  The 16 ga runs about 6 lbs and is a joy to carry.  I’ve also found that since I am hunting over pointing dogs that most of my shots are coming off of a point and flush that I don’t need to take a lot of longer shots and the 16 ga provides plenty of power.  It was Fergie’s turn to hunt.  She gets shortchanged as she is always the last one out for a hunt and sometimes we get our two bird limit before her turn comes.  We went to a section of over that is about 50 yards wide is bordered by a gravel road on one side and a fence on the other.  We had a nice head wind and she was working pretty well, as well as a blind 11+ yr old dog can hunt.   We made it through the first area with just a wild hen being moved.  Shortly after moving into the second are she started to work harder and get a lot more birdy. After two short soft points she was getting serious about it all so I started to kick around and a smaller rooster came up and I was able to drop it cleanly.  She was so excited to hear the sound of the shot after her work and then to get to smell her harvest topped it all off.

It was a day that I hope for whenever I head out.  Great dog work and no lost birds.

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