Yesterday was summer hot and sultry here in the North Country with temperatures topping out in the low 80s. A front came through last night and it suddenly feels like fall with the high for the next couple of days in the high 60s. overnight lows may even drop into the 30s. Knowing the weather was changing I didn’t even set the alarm this morning. I’ll be able to run dogs all day and plan to take LJ out this afternoon.
Friday night the Big Thuddd came up bearing gifts for the grill as well as spirits. We had another convivial meal out on the porch talking about dogs, birds, and field trials. Saturday morning we reported at Tony’s at 6:00 am to run Little Thuddy and Trip down through Red Barn. The woodcock have abandoned the cover for the most part and we only found one woodcock and a brood of about five or six grouse. the Little Thudster ha a broke piece of work on the woodcock and busted the brood inadvertently as he came on from the wrong side of the wind. The temptation was too much and he went with the birds which gave Tony the opportunity to do a little training. Tim was torn about Little Thuddy — hunting season is just around the corner and he wants to spend time hunting the little guy, but at the same time he is looking to the future and Little Thuddy’s potential field trial career. After many discussions with Tony (and some Italian brow-beating) Thuddy is going to stay in New Hampshire at least through the fall derby stakes. This is a dilemma that many face with their young dogs. If you have a field trial prospect you have to decide which comes first trials or hunting.
I have always hunted my field trial dogs and over the years we have developed a hunting style that keeps the field trial dogs sharp. The main thing is whoever is running the dog doesn’t carry a gun they just pay attention to the dog. This is especially true with the younger dogs and is sometimes ignored with the finished adult dogs especially when they reach the age and experience of a dog like Jack, but even Jack can get a a little sloppy — if you let him — when the birds start falling out of the sky and feathers are drifting on the wind. This wasn’t always the case but it’s where we’ve gotten too now that we’re counting the time until the social security checks start arriving in months instead of years.
We also ran LJ and Rigby yesterday morning as it started to warm up. LJ had a broke find on a woodcock and a good derby find on a single grouse. Rigby was the star of the morning with a really nice piece of work on a big brood of grouse that would have given us a number of shooting opportunities. Trash ran by herself up in the Orchard but it seemed like someone had been in there before us as she only found a single woodcock and we walked up a couple of grouse. Unlike Tim’s facebook report where he seemed to use a factor of two in reporting the bird count we moved around 15 grouse and a few woodcock including one in the road when we were on our way to Tony’s.
We went for breakfast and then to the bird field to work a few more dogs. Tony’s three sisters — Ginger, Trash, and Bertha — have had just about enough work in the bird field. They are standing the birds as we root them out of the cover but have developed the habit of trot around from objective to objective until they find the one the bird has been planted in. It doesn’t take them long to figure this game out. If we were going to be doing more planted bird work with them it would be time to spread the birds out in more natural settings and make them hunt for them, but what we’ve started on the quail can now be transferred to wild birds.
Thursday this week Tony and I will be heading back to Canada to judge the North American and run the derbies in the Woodcock futurity. That’s followed by the Northern New England Woodcock Championship with a companion derby stake on wild birds, then the Midcoast Grouse and Woodcock Championship. the first weekend in October takes me back to New Brunswick for the Leslie Anderson Derby Classic and the International Amateur Woodcock Championship. Then we can just hunt until the end of the year unless I decide to go to the Grouse Futurity and the Grand which is looking unlikely at this point.