Friday, November 18, 2011

Hiding in the snow

I should have known better than to go out again today, but Riley and I had such a great time between the squalls yesterday we were ready to chance it again today. It wasn't a very good idea because there was quite a bit more moisture and wind in today's storms and the duration was a little longer. So we got a little wet.

Luckily we found a nice carved out spot in some rocks that gave us some protection from the blowing wet snow. I tucked myself back in as far as I could to protect both me and Riley, who was more than happy to hide with me. The hard stuff lasted for about a half an hour. It's amazing of the things that can go through your mind in that short of a time.

Riley pulled in as close as he could with his nose tucked deep into my chest. As he looked up at me with his eyes I suddenly saw Tucker in him. I remembered all the great times Tucker and I had together and how he used to sit next to me in the same way. He always made me feel like I was really something. Riley has turned into Tucker in his actions. He always wants to be close to me and is as aware of where I am on the hill as I try to be of him. If he comes back to where he thinks I should be and he can't see me he quickly gets that panic look in his eyes.

Tucker taught me more about chukar hunting than I could have learned from a book and now Riley is continuing my education. I remember feeling like all that I have to do to be successful in hunting chukars is to follow Tuckers lead and shoot well. We both had bad days but 9 out of 10 times Tucker's days were great. He had honest points that he would hold until I got into the position I wanted to be in. If I did my job the retrieve would be made with never a word being said.

Never a word being said. That is how my hunts now go with Riley now. Very few words have to be said for encouragement or because of discouragement, except for the times I'm cussing myself out. I know he does what he does because he loves it and it pleases me. I keep my mouth shut when he screws up because I know that he made the mistake trying to please me just as I sometimes miss a bird trying to please him with a possible retrieve. That is what Tucker taught me about being with a hunting dog. We are a team.

Finally the storm broke and it was time for Riley and I to work our way back to the truck before the next batch of snow and wind hit us. Riley jumped up and led the way, hoping to find a bird or two along the way. He seemed to know the way back to the truck and I was ready to head that way. As luck would have it, we did pick up a couple of more chukars along the way, but that wasn't what was important on my mind. It was the realization of how Riley and I had become one. He and I are not only good hunting buddies but are just great friends.

But with the good things our dogs do for us there is the one thing that they have no control over. They don't live long enough. With each passing of our animal friends we lose a piece of our heart. I have lost several pieces in my lifetime and Tucker took a pretty big chunk. Dakota, Tucker,s son probably only has a couple of years left before he will erase all physical evidence of his father. He will also take a large piece of my heart with him. He and his dad were an unbeatable pair on the hill. There will never be a pair of dogs that worked birds together than these two. Thus the name "Team Tuckota" will forever be engraved above my fireplace with the names of all their predecessors and followers listed with them.


While sitting under that rock I couldn't help but to wonder where I am going from here. I never thought I would have another dog that would fit with me as Tucker did. I don't mind saying that I bawled like a baby the day Tucker left and am getting tears now thinking back to that day. I also left some tears under that rock today. They were tears for Tucker but also tears of fear of the day when Riley leaves me. I don't know if I have many more pieces of my heart to give. I wish that the love each one of my dogs have given me would rebuild the heart but there's starting to be too much of a void.

Most who are reading this have hunting dogs so nothing more need be said except, thank you God for giving us such loyal friends and I pray we all see each other again.

12 comments:

Boblogger said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing. I got my first dog when I was 40 and just lost her last year (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQiY45FREsE). She had a great nose but ran too big to hunt with; her heart was bigger than her range, though. Now I'm enjoying a fantastic chukar season with her little brother, who is a natural (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbIR9q2fKGE). I understand your question about how you can bear going through another loss. I dread Angus's demise, but cherish every day and night with him. Thanks for such a great blog! I hope to run into you out there some day soon. = Bob

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Bob. I hope we meet too. Sounds like you're having a great time with Angus. They bring us so much joy and do a pretty darn good job of keeping us in shape. Keep hunting and building those memories with Angus for both of your sakes.

Karl DeHart said...

Thanks for sharing Larry. I'm glad you are finding that connection again with Riley. Don't worry about not having more heart to give because our hearts grow as we learn to love and appreciate each new hunting partner.

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Karl. I know the great life your dog's live and how excited they always are. I have always appreciated your words of wisdom.

CParkinson said...

Wow! Great post Larry. Birdie is my first bird dog I can't believe how close we've grown in a little over a year. I've never lost a dog but fear that day now. Few things bring me more pleasure than hiking the hills all day with my hunting companion. Like Bob I really hope to run into soon so I can meet the team. Thanks for the post!

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Chuck. I've been reading a lot about Birdie and the sisters so I know how much quality time you guys have spent with the dogs. You are right on about the pleasures of being out with your hunting companion. They make it so simple. They just want to be with you and make you happy. To bad we humans can't learn from dogs.

IDAHOMAN said...

Larry, great post. Would you mind if I copied and pasted it as a guest post onto my blog that highlights hunting in Idaho? I think a lot of my readers would enjoy it.

~ J. Bunch

larry szurgot said...

No problem at all Idahoman. In fact thank you for sharing it. I think there are lots out there that feel like I do.

larry szurgot said...

CParkinson. I apologize for calling you Chuck. That shows you how much dogs get the attention. Clayton gets called by another name but his little girl gsp is known properly as Birdie.

IDAHOMAN said...

Thank you, sir.

http://www.idahoman.com/2011/11/hiding-in-snow.html

Steve said...

Well put Larry. My Dad had Griffons when I was a kid and I always took it hard when they past. Now I've got my first Drathaar, Atlas, and have grown to love him more than I ever thought I would. I've found myself with the same thoughts you describe while out hunting - and this is our first season together!

Steve

larry szurgot said...

Fantastic Steve. The journey you are now taking is a wonderful one. The only journey better, in my opinion, is raising a family. Keep in touch and let me know how your pup is doing.