|Dave Hawke and Tony running dogs this morning|
Finally, we got some heavy rains during the night as a front came through and moved out the hot and humid weather we’ve been having. Temperatures tonight are expected to be in the mid-40s that is my kind of weather. This morning we headed for the orchard to run the first pair of dogs and expected woodcock in all the usual places only to be a bit disappointed at first. LJ and Dave’s dog Ginger ran in the first brace and didn’t find any birds in the lower part of the cover. Things changed up on top as Ginger had a nice find and then LJ had one way to the front that moved out on him and Ginger came in and pointed as well. LJ almost immediately had a second woodcock in under the old apple trees and then a third one down on the edge of a big mowed field. As we headed back to the trucks LJ had another woodcock up on the edge of area where the land owner did some clearing as part of the management plan for the area. As we got almost back to the trucks both LJ and Ginger had finds in a stretch of cover they had blown by on the way out as they raced far to the front on the skidder road that cuts through the cover. Final count was 8 woodcock — 7 pointed and one walked up.
The second brace was Trip and Frankie and we took them far off the road into a cover that had long ago been a farm and now has a camp in it. We had to go way to the bottom of the cover to find a few woodcock as Trip and Frankie each had one about 50 yards apart and then I walked up one which flew and landed right in front of Frankie for a little bonus bird work. Shortly there after Trip had her second find to give us a total of four woodcock deep in the cover. When we got back to the trucks Frankie hunted down along the road and had a really nice find on a woodcock to give his his second find and raise the woodcock count to 13 for the morning after two braces. At one point Frankie stop well to the right of the trail we were on and I went forward as Dave and Tony followed the Garmin to Frankie. When then released him he ran forward up the trail until he passed me and then began to hunt to the front again. I could just barely hear Tony behind me calling for Frankie which brought up one of the fine points of judging and handling in grouse trials. It is my contention that our dogs are highly competitive and do not like to be behind the forward dog and handler. I expect my dogs to regain the front when they are released in a trial. In fact, it is one of my pet peeves when judging when a handler gets behind and keeps calling a dog back to him or her. Often what you end up with is a dog the runs to the front on the course and then gets reeled back in. forcing the dog to run up and down the path to keep it with you only makes you and the dog look bad. The forward jude should put someone from the gallery on the dog until the handler catches up. In fact, whenever possible I try to have someone in the gallery who knows my dogs always stay with the forward party, carry a blank gun, and offer to keep an eye on the dog until I catch up. Tony thought Frankie should have returned to the rear when he was called although I could barely hear Tony yelling and I’m sure Frankie, who was 100 yards further away with Tony’s big loud bell strapped to him couldn’t hear him at all. So what the rear judge would have been led to believe (if there had been one today) was that Frankie was being non-responsive.
The next brace was the grouse brace with Dave’s puppy Daisy and Tony running the Bilodeau’s dog Bertha. We started out working them along the road where we had found woodcock recently but both these dogs lack a lot of experience and found the road to much of a temptation. So, we headed into a cut and followed a skidder road up the hillside. Daisy put up the first brood with to separate stops. Then further up the hill Bertha was in the cover and a really big brood of grouse blew out like a covey of giant quail. She came back through and put a couple of stragglers in the air. One came out and flew right down the skidder road offering what would have been a pretty easy shot attempt. Bertha runs with more animation every time I see her and the grouse today really caused her to shift up a gear. On the way out Daisy pointed (briefly) another brood. I really don’t have an accurate count but the two small broods were three or four and the big may have been as many as ten so if this was a field trial we’d probably report 18 grouse moved on the brace and we wouldn’t be exaggerating by much.
Tony then ran Bee who had a couple of unproductives including the one pictured below. In the hunting season Tony and Bee’s owner Lloyd Carney run her with a orange vest and you can see why in this picture.
Tony and Dave went off to work more dogs in the cool weather of the day while I came home to clean up for a doctor’s appointment the afternoon. This evening we’re planning to work some of the young dogs in the bird field.
|Sometimes it can be really hard to see a dog in heavy cover. Can you see Bee in this image?|