Who knew I left it there? Well, Erik, a Dutch Ex-Pat, got to have his first upland hunt today at Miller Ranch hunting over Team Double Dutch, Powder and Fowler. We put ten birds in the field, and found all ten - one did get lucky and make an escape. The dogs worked together pointing, honoring one another, and retrieving like champs as we have come to expect, despite the cold and wet conditions. As people who know me know, my shooting is Amazing (Amazingly bad, or Amazingly good) and today I got to wear my shooting mojo like Hugh Hefner wore his silk PJ's. Erik managed to punch birds out of the sky like a boss as well. Unless you were a pheasant in field #2 it was a good day.
Just so we are all on the same sheet of music, I found the classic graphic I believe most "pointer people" can agree on to define the various "levels" of steadiness.. The further to the right, the "higher" the level of steadiness.
In the world of pointing dogs this can be quite the debate. In Real World hunting situations, with all of the people I have hunted with and all the different dogs I have had the opportunity to hunt over I have heard a lot of things, mostly yelling, cussing, copious whistle bleating and even witnessed a tantrum or two over dog performance for one thing or another. The one thing I never heard a peep over is a guy complaining his dog was too steady.. Let that soak in for a quick minute. Hell, I'm guilty of this. Please allow me to digress...it is my blog after all...In fact my first real bird dog from puppy is Paxson. I thought knew a lot about dog training already, read a half dozen books on Bird Dog training - man I got this, I thought. I was living in New Mexico at the time, and The Poof was about eighteen months old. He spent his first year and change living in Amstenrade, The Netherlands and had only seen a few pheasant and Grey Partridge when I took him out for walks in the South Limburger countryside.... Back to New Mexico. It was a banner year for Scaled quail, the coveys out on the mesa where epic - hundreds of birds, just in a single covey! It didn't take long and Paxson began to point naturally, doing an amazing job really. People have paid more to trainers and got less - just saying and since I thought I knew so much I allowed Paxson to be hunted with my dear friend's yellow Lab, Drake. I love Jim, and I really thought the world of Drake, but he was no pointing dog! True to type, he'd blaze on in and the quail would fly. Soon this became a competition for Paxson and turned into a behavior I have never been able to completely rein in. I learned I couldn't hunt him with another dog and so Paxson, despite being an amazing bird dog, has never had his talents showcased to anyone wanting to run their own dog during the same hunt.
Overall, the birds are down. In fact the past several years have seen a steady decline. Each year a step down from the year before. This year was supposed to be a good year, the monsoon rains were on time, and in good quantity, reality is, they were spotty. Still, some reports allege a violent mid-Sept storm decimated the young bird population... I can confirm the spotty monsoon reports, the rain was absolutely right in a handful of areas, and those ares where a tremendous amount of fun to hunt. Overall we had some nice dog work which made the whole trip well worth the time, energy and effort. Meanwhile, just to the North, Arizona wine country continues to deliver pleasant surprises: Like newcomer: Deep Sky vineyard, and places I've made threats to visit for years only to just now make the visit happen Rune Wines made for some nice tasting opportunities. While tried and true stalwarts Callaghan Wines, and Dos Cabezas delivered to expectation. Good times.
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I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some years later this is what you get.