Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A perfect dog day

I headed out early this morning not knowing what to expect from the weather. It called for rain but the radar looked like there might be a break in the direction I was heading. When I arrived at my hunting destination the rain was still coming down but I could see a break further off to the west, the direction the storm had come from. I'm not much for hunting in the rain and I've never had a shorthair that was very excited about it either, so Riley and I waited for the clearing. It wasn't long and Riley and I were out heading up the hill in the stiff breeze that followed the clouds. My guess was about 15 mile an hour winds. That's what made it the perfect dog day. The rain had washed out all old scent and any scent that was fresh would surely be picked up and carried to Riley's nostrils. The temperature was 54 degrees. Very comfortable. About 15 minutes into the hunt Riley had his first point. He was about 200 yards away, but his staunch point told me I had plenty of time to side hill up to him. He had the birds pinned. I picked a bird out of the covey and Riley retrieved the bird in short order. Riley was off to find another covey. There wasn't a false point all day. Riley covered the mountain with his long strides and high nose and as soon as his pace slowed and his head lowered some I knew it was time to start heading his way. He was never over 300 yards away but with the steepness of the hills it still took some time to get to him. By the time I got to where I last saw him he would be locked in again. This was the kind of day when the point left no doubt about whether or not birds were there. It's perfect weather conditions like today that can really make the relationship between hunter and his dog the way it should be. I'm not saying that Riley didn't bust a couple of coveys today. He did. But through no fault of his. While chukar hunting you can't always be hunting into the wind. Sometimes while making those big casts you have to turn with the wind to your back. But more often than not, on a day like today you are going to get some good dog work. Now is the time to try and put it together. The dog is locked in on a fresh scent. It's time for you to move in on the birds in a way that your dog is accustomed to you doing. Moving in a calm manner helps the dog stay a little more focused and calm. If you have to whoa your dog from creeping you do it in a calm voice letting him know you are there as a team. Now is a very important part of the team aspect with your dog. The flush and shot. Very seldom do you hear anyone mention the shooting aspect of hunting with a dog. The dog needs to know that when you flush and shoot at the birds there will usually be one there to get in his mouth. That's part of the big equation. Dog points, hunter walks in on point, flushes bird, shoots and the dog gets to retrieve. Believe it or not, missing enough can cause a dog to start chasing. Today was perfect. Not because of the number of birds we got, but the way we got them. The whole picture was there. We worked as a team. I knew when Riley pointed there was no question as to where the birds were. The wind was strong enough to remove any doubt and the scent had to be fresh. I could approach the birds from a position where Riley could see me. If Riley crept a little I knew the birds were further up the hill but If he stayed staunch I knew they were right there. My shots usually hit the mark today. Mainly because the birds were where Riley told me they would be. It's not always posssible, but when you have a day like today, when the conditions are perfect, take advantage of it. Put it together with your canine partner. Make things happen so your dog knows how it is supposed to work as a team.


The Noisy Plume said...

Thanks for your blog. I have been checking in for the past couple of years and always enjoy your updates. One of the things I appreciate most about your writing is that your thoughts/points come from real life/practical bird hunting experience based on countless hours in the field. One thing that resonated with me in this post was your point that it is not possible to always have your dog working into the wind while chukar hunting - how many times have I read Always work your dog into the wind? In the real world of chukar hunting geography and terrian dictate most often which direction we work our dogs - plus most of us like to end up back at our trucks at the end of the day. Another one of those Book rules that is not based on real hunting is relocating - but now I am just rambling. Again, thanks for all the effort you put into sharing all you have learned. Rob

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Rob. You're right about the relocating. We could ramble about that for ever. As usual it's just a matter of letting the dog show us how to do it. Relocating is very neccessary to being succesful at getting birds.