Sometimes, they let us down.
At the end of a season, half-a-dozen years in, you expert a certain level of professionalism.
Mostly you get it.
Then there are the days like Thursday. Her blood was up. After a series of birds, we got into some chest-high sage where she was tough to see. I lost sight of her and when I saw a bird get up 100 yards ahead I realized how far ahead she was. I tried to reign her in.
To no avail.
Though I couldn’t see her, I could see birds getting up in twos and threes well out of range. While I shouted frantically.
I’ve used my whistle sparingly this season. Thursday, I didn’t even have it.
I’ve just expected her to do what she needs to do.
Thursday I regretted not just the lack of the whistle, but the lack of a training collar.
She let me down.
It took me a few days and a couple of trips to get over it. But she got back to center, I think she noticed the lack of shots or dead birds.
And I remembered the times I’ve let her down, with lousy shooting, or work, or poor planning or a million other excuses.
She’s far from perfect, but so am I.
So we hunt on and we hope to be better.
4 thoughts on “Better days”
I like this. A nice reminder of the two-way relationship we have with our dogs. Well done.
I find that we let them down far more often than the other way around.
The author let the dog down.
After many years and all manner of birds that have been pointed and fallen over my Brittanys I never turn them out to hunt without their e-collars and a whistle around my neck (in winter I carry two whistles around my neck as one can freeze). I hardly ever use the e-collars any more but occasionally I need to remind one of the dogs that I have a long reach. They may want to run trash (hardly ever happens now after a few early encounters with Westinghouse moments), be headed for a cliff chasing a wounded chukar, be after a running pheasant and headed for a road, lots of reasons that my voice command and sometimes a whistle command doesn’t get the job done. E-collars fail, batteries go dead, but my lungs and a whistle still are there for back up. And, my hunting buddies will not tolerate a dog that busts birds.
Still, we are all human and that involves more mistakes than missing a bird over a point or going-away shots. The dogs hold no hard feelings if they know they were wrong, just excited or focused.
Thanks for sharing your faults. I tire of perfect days and excellent dog work stories. I screw up lots and try to learn from the mistakes, I know those dogs of mine screw up less as they mature and learn pretty quickly. The author lets us see ourselves as human and not divine. I’ll hunt with him any time as long as he has an e-collar on his dog and a whistle around his neck. I’ll even loan him a whistle and my extra e-collar from the possibles bag in the truck if necessary.
Its hard to remember how we ever got along before the e-collar.
Great story, it reminds me of the first solo hunt I ever took growi up. I lost sight of the dog and holler’d and whistled for what seemed like hours. In reality it was 15 minutes but I was angry.
Then I stepped around a line of standing corn and there she was pointing a covey. Not sure how long she had held the point, but to think that I stood there calling while she was on the birds twenty yards away. Sometimes I forget that they know where the birds are. It’s nice when they hunt close, but I’ll follow a dog that wants to hunt.