First of all, the post I received from Steve told me how he was sidelined after his first hunt by an asthma attack and was hospitalized and put in a medically induced coma. I'm not sure whether he already had asthma conditions that might have led up to his hospitalization or whether it just came on but I know this heat, dust, smoke and pollen can knock a guy down real quick. I'm hoping that's why I was so punky on opening morning. I just couldn't get going. You'd think with finding grouse five minutes from my truck the enthusiasm would have had me pumped up but, within a half hour I felt like my pack weighed 100 pounds. Even when Jake busted or pointed another bird I felt drained and it was now only 8 A.M. I refuse to think I'm getting to old so I'm going to blame it on the weather and air conditions.
If you're like me, you'll go out there anyway. Just be prepared and pack lots of water and snacks to help you make it through the hunt. Slow yourself down along with your hunting companion and make it a short trip.
Speaking of hunting companions, keep a close eye on your pup. I remember something about a hot pheasant opener in the Dakota's and stories of many dogs dying of heat exhaustion. Watching Jake last Thursday, I could see how that could happen very easily. He drank a gallon of water in an hour. That's a lot of water, but he kept coming back to me and staring at my water bottle and I'd squirt more into his mouth. All of my dogs in the past would lay in a bog or puddle of water and cool down but Jake hasn't figured this out so he doesn't cool himself down. We were at about 5500 feet in elevation and in an area where a creek would perk out of the ground for 50 yards or so once in a while. Jake wouldn't use the creek but I'd refill his bottles when I could. His nose was so dry he didn't get that cake of dust and pollen over it like on normal early hunts. The worst part, (if you can call this bad) was there were enough birds around to keep his enthusiasm up and he refused to slow down. I finally had to convince him to cut our hunt short when I saw him stumbling a little.