Sometimes it's hard to put a finger on poor dog work. I know that more than just once I have wondered if my dog has gone brain dead. The beginning of this bird season had me wondering about Grady and my letting him run wild this summer. It seemed like he had found a new past time, chasing birds. As the hunting season came upon us, I tried to explain that I could make them run and fly without his help but it seemed like we weren't connecting. Jake, on the other hand, has learned to pace himself while Grady bumped more and more birds. I knew it was hot and dry, making scenting conditions tough, but things were getting a little out of hand. We had a few decent days but watching birds fly 100 yards away was beginning to get old. I was thinking we might have to go back to the basics and then the snow came.
It takes birds to make a good hunting dog, but it takes bird scent equally as much. I decided after Grady's performance today that for the past month his nostrils were filled with dust and pollen. He was running so hard he was creating clouds of dust he couldn't see birds through. Today's snow knocked all the dust down and Grady became a different dog. I mention Grady just because for the most part Jake has become mister dependable and has learned not to get all fired up like Grady. His pace is a little slower and purposeful. He might not find as many birds but he very seldom bumps them.
From the time we left the truck Grady was off to the races. 300 yards to my left, then three hundred yards to my right and then three hundred yards behind me. There wasn't much area uncovered. I knew that because even though I usually couldn't see my boys there tracks were everywhere in the new snow. I was wondering how many birds had already been flushed that I never heard or saw, when my Alpha said Grady on point 158 yards away. I headed towards him and soon it showed Jake on point in the same general area. When I got there Jake was honoring Grady and I could see the birds about 20 yards in front of Grady huddled in the snow. The birds held well until I moved to the front of the dogs and then flushed. Neither dog moved a muscle until the flush and shot. Wow! That's how it's supposed to be. How come that hadn't happened much in the past month?
As the day progressed I saw more and more of that great dog work by both boys. I only saw one covey busted wild. Both dogs were on point ahead of me and out of sight when the birds busted at about 100 yards away. I don't know if the dogs broke or the birds just flushed.
I had 3 or 4 points that were solid but, when I approached, all I saw was bird sign where they had been feeding but had flown earlier and left plenty of scent.
To make it short I had excellent dog work today and I attribute that to the snow or moisture. I know better but I was expecting more out of my dogs then they could produce. Grady traveled just as far and fast as his past hunts but seemed to be able to find and hold the birds. By the time we got back to the truck we had 11 birds with only 10 shots. It wasn't because of good shooting but good dog work. Outside of getting a scotch double on one covey of huns I shot one bird out of each covey pointed.
The only draw back to the day was when I saw Grady trying to get something that seemed to be stuck in his mouth. As I approached I could see the quills in his lips. I never saw the porcupine, but evidently Grady is getting smarter because there were only about 20 and they came out fairly easily.
Another note is the condition of the birds. None of the chukars had any fat at all and the huns had just a little. Their crops were filled with seeds and no green grass. As long as we get some good sunny days this snow will have done us a lot of good. Not only for scenting but to get the grasses growing and helping the birds fatten up before the real cold season comes.
I saw loads of birds today so get out there and let your dogs do what you got them for. And trust them to use their instincts to find you birds.