Yesterday evening Reacher and I spent the last hour of daylight sitting on our property boundary listening to the clamor of several thousand Canada geese, just a short quarter mile away, grazing on the manure of a cattle pasture. The manure contains minimally digested corn kernels, and trust me, this pulls in the geese big time! It’s right up there with sugar beet trim! On the one hand, this makes me wonder about the ultimate “palatability” of the geese. Yet, in reality, we always work hard to be certain that our freezer(s) contain our bag limit quota at the end of each season. A carefully managed freezer gets us through our paleo requirements over the balance of the year.
Today I had the great pleasure of hunting my eighteen month old Brittany, Reacher, until he was actually showing some signs of tiredness! This is a first! The dog wants to range and crash through premier pheasant cover a quarter mile ahead of me, normally. But today he actually didn’t wear out the electrical charge on his collar…although I did recharge the unit midday!
Here’s the story: three non-experienced hunters and one experienced with a black lab, but the lab was not oriented around pheasants. Instead of flushing, the lab was focussed on retrieval. Nothing unusual about this. Training labs to be effective pheasant hunters, to charge through dense pheasant holding cover within shotgun range, is not a simple task. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of “pheasant” experience.
Over the last two years I’ve had the hard-to-match pleasure of training Labrador retrievers from a strong line of exceptional Yellows, and a Brittany from a similarly gifted Canadian line of pointers. I’ve watched them interact with terrific concentrations of both wild and released pheasants here at the Joy of Hunting headquarters. We’ve also had the singular good fortune of having seasoned dogs from both lines to help with the training process!
There’s one other factor that I can’t over-emphasize…a regular hunter here has a wealth of pointer experience (which I lacked). He graciously has taken Anne and I out on pointer-based hunts, during which, and immediately after while enjoying a sip of liquid refreshment on the back porch, the finer details of pointer training have been “expanded” on!
It’s full tilt hunting season, mid-November at Joy of Hunting in Shepherd, Montana! Now and again we have clients interested in a mixed bag hunt. It’s a great pleasure for us and I think the dogs pick up on too!
We are five minutes walking time from:
1. Pheasants! In fact I’d amend that to two minutes for our gaudy, long tailed cacklers, as they everywhere including a cattail covered ditch flowing into House Pond, a hundred feet from our front door.
2. Sharptails! The grouse winter here, and this year we are seeing exceptional numbers.
3. Ducks and Geese!
Thoughts on Abundance During Climate Change
There was a time when I was fearful that my dogs would drink from Fish Fry Lake. Early on, there were times the lake was just a carpet of algae, interrupted by the occasional bright splotch of weird colored cyanobacteria. There were indicators that it was hazardous…dead birds floating belly up in the green muck
Vio(let), our nine-year-old yellow Lab, is patiently helping bring on Reacher, our Brittany pup. He is almost seven months now, and precocious. I have been mixing hunt time with puppy time…perhaps pushing Reacher towards the hunt because of my lack of a dog, as Sam, my female Lab left us last year. But Reacher’s reality is that playtime is anytime. And I'm being trained too,
In which Bruce writes about our experiences of trying to outwit the battle-weary, sharp, cagey wild pheasant at the end of a long season - and sometimes winning! Bruce writes as someone frequently known to get a limit on the last day of season. I (Anne) am more likely to come back with a duck and a goose, but I'm not complaining! Here it is...
Bruce knows and loves the pheasant like no other hunter / landowner, and he writes with humor and expertise about this glorious bird. His stories are full of wisdom and insight and are fun to read! Eventually they will be published - working title "Pheasant Book".
Joy of Hunting
bruce's blog &