Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Young and Old

The last few hunts have been uneventful over the past week or so since I last posted. Mostly the hunts have been of the turkey nature behind my house where I've seen them come through to pick at the corn I put out. (Now I know what you're thinking, but I don't hunt them over the corn, er, not usually.)

One exception to my recent slow hunts would have to be the first pheasant hunt of the year at my friend Walt's spot in Ingham County, Mich.

Usually a tough hunt anyway, this year was even tougher as the cover there, a mixture of weeds and burr tangles to go along with the standing corn and soy beans, was just insane. Most spots well over even Walt's head, who stands 6-foot-4.

The gig started off on the wrong foot when we made the awful decision to jump right into a section of standing corn. Bad idea. Real bad. Lost the new dog, Hank, for at least an hour.

I would zap him with the electronic collar, tellin' him to come, but I could only hear him go "yipe"! Which is one way to locate his whereabouts but probably not the best use of the shocker as a training aid. Bells and beepers are better method but useless for hunting the wiley rooster, who will just run away from the jingle on the dog. Then, again, with me yelling at them the whole time, I often wonder, what's the difference?

But I got to see how the newbie would do on a big league hunt, and for the most part, he was in the game. Staying at a decent range and showing an eagerness to find birds or whatever we were out there for. (See, I'm not sure if he's down with that quite yet. Hopefully, in time, that will come. And he did flush a woodcock during the evening part of the hunt.)

Then there was his second disappearence when Hank crossed a neighbor's electric fence and wouldn't come back through it. I would zap away, hear a faint yelp. This went on for an hour or so until I figured out where he was.

Meanwhile, the 12-year-old springer looked good and stayed in the game for the duration. I was very pleased and surprised with Henry's performance. Temperature seemed to be right for him -- in the mid- to upper 40s. Colder the better for Henry. And as I've told others who have counted him out lately, when I was in thick cover chasing around a woodcock in the viney woods that juts out into swale we hunt, it was Henry I was depending on to come in and hunt down the timberdoodle.

Of course, with a venerable dog such as Henry, he sometimes hunts the way he sees fit, not always in unison with the hunt at hand, which was he did in this case. Off he went on old scent while I was in the prickers getting tore up trying to get a last shot as darkness came calling.

Damn dogs. Like women, can't live with them, can't live without them.


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