Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Hey Big Mouth
Well as happens every year, or is it every day, I have managed to screw up a good thing. Luckily, the damage was with a very smart dog, Riley, who knows how to forgive and forget quickly. The damage done was opening my mouth and trying to do the hunting for Riley. About a week ago I posted about the perfect dog day, well today was the "a chance to be a perfect idiot day". A day where the birds were plentiful and the weather was beautiful. There was more soft sand than shale rocks to traverse the hills in, making walking a lot easier. The chukars were talking making their prescence very obvious. It wasn't long before Riley's first point. He held the birds for my flush. My first shot dropped a bird and my second hit also, but it was one of those shots that didn't take affect until the bird had flown a couple hundred yards, flew straight up in the air, and dropped down the canyon out of sight. Riley was soon on a trail 50 yards away and heading towards where the birds flew to. I recalled him and told him dead bird. I walked to the area where the first bird had fallen and repeated dead bird. Riley acted like there was no bird there and headed for the other side of the hill again. After all these years of hunting with good dogs you'd think I learn to trust them. No, not me. That's why I'm a chukar hunter. No brain. I kept recalling Riley with the same result. No dead bird. After about a half hour of frustration, I decide to head down to where I thought bird number two was. Another fifteen minutes or so and not even knowing for sure where the bird went down at, I turned back up hill towards where the first bird was shot. Loosing two birds had me really frustrated, a feeling dog owners should let go of fast. We got to where I felt the first bird was and gave it another fifteen minutes of frustrating search with no bird to be found. With discust
, I finally headed in the direction the large covey of chukars had flown. Knowing where the birds had gone I kept calling Riley back, trying to locate him where I wanted him to be in relationship to where I thought the birds had gone. Riley was obviously getting confused with my directing him, but for some reason I persisted on helping him find the covey. The birds were where I thought they'd be and Riley put up another great point. I moved below him where he could see me approaching and dropped the second chukar I shot at. Keeping my mouth shut I was tickled to watch Riley find the bird and bring it to me. I remember thinking, "thank God, I thought maybe Riley forgot how to find dead birds".
As we headed back up the hill, Riley locked on point again. His head was high and he kept relocating back in the direction of our first encounter with the covey. He finally locked up and I moved in for the flush. No birds. Riley then broke point and picked up a dead bird from the trail we were near. He enthusiastically brought it to me and headed off hunting. We were about two hundred yards from where I had shot the first shots of the day and as you probably have guessed, I followed the trail around to find Riley's tracks in the sandy soil. This was the trail Riley was on when I was trying to get him to come back for a dead bird. My dead bird was a cripple and Riley was on his scent when I kept calling him back..
I started up the hill following Riley's lead. I heard some birds talking off to the west and could even see one jumping from rock to rock. My dog was down on the east side of the hill working the breeze. I wanted to head back to where I knew the birds were but common sense finally grabbed hold of me. Keep your mouth shut and let Riley do his job. As the day progressed I did just that. Riley didn't fail me and before the day was over he even took me to the covey of birds I had heard earlier. Too many birds and easy walking conditions can sometimes create a bad dog day just because us humans think we can become better predators than our canine companions.
I was reminded of a cardinal rule of training dogs today. Luckily, I have a good companion with lot's of experience. Getting frustrated like I was has no place on the hill with a dog. Let it go or get off the hill. The best way to ruin a dog is to lose your temper and control. If you've done your job as a trainer and a hunting companion your dog is out there trying to please you because he/she loves you. They make mistakes the same as we do, but not half as many as we are inclined of making. Over and over I think back to Tucker and his training of me. Sometimes I half to be reminded the rules of companionship, and how a team really does accomplish more than an individual. I don't know if it's macho to admit this, but man I love my dogs.