The small army is gone. The skirmish line and the blockers have packed their bags and headed across the horizon, leaving a mile-long cloud of dust.
This time there is no, “how should we hit this one” conversation. No waiting on slowpokes or getting into position only to watch the line dissolve into a grupetto.
Now, it’s just the dog and I and a simple plan. Head up wind, as quickly and quietly as possible.
No whistle, no yelling, just a quiet “easy,” then we’re moving. A few dozen yards in, she sniffs hard, inhales something bigger than bird scent and snorts a bit before working two hens into the air. Their flight sends a jumpy rooster up, just out of range.
We round a corner and two roosters get up. I whack the first one and when the second one drops, I’m momentarily disappointed that there is no one to witness my shooting, then Roxy drops a bird in my hand and returns to complete the double and I recall how many birds we have watched flush from 500 yards away on this trip. I snap back to reality and think about how often this game of wild birds and dogs comes down to chance.
Sometimes, for a few brief moments, the dog is flawless, the birds hold and my shooting is clean.
It’s just us and it’s perfect.