Another beautiful day in Kentucky. Temperature in the 40s and clear blue sky. Had one minor set back, as the 4-wheel-drive in my truck stopped working just as I was trying to get through a patch of mud caused by the warming temperatures. It’s going into the shop on Monday so I’ll have to stay on the graveled roads out at the farm until I’m back with the truck fully functional. I tried a new spot today with Brandy (Wild Apple Calvados) and she pointed in a strip of tall grass in what was a vegetable patch last summer. When I walked in, a covey blew out and I caught some of it on video which is inserted at the bottom of this page.
Brandy isn’t the only one who can pin a covey of birds here in Kentucky. Wild Apple Moon Glow who suffers from a case of the Cobbler’s Daughter and doesn’t get the ink of some of the client dogs was up for sale at one point but I changed my mind and decided to hang onto her for a little longer. Today she also pointed the first wild covey of quail she’s every had a chance at and looked pretty good doing it.
Both finds today were fairly close to me while yesterday and Tuesday I ran at the Miller/Welch WMA which is manicured for field trials with big fields mowed in strips. If a dog takes an edge and stays with it they’re going to make some pretty big casts. Now all the dogs I have with me are derbies and puppies. They have all been started in the woods and run a pretty natural quartering pattern which is perfect for the grouse woods but makes them look kind of short and y0-yoie when turned loose on the trial grounds here. I’m going to run them in some of the walking trials this winter and they are learning to take an edge better. The dilemma comes with the idea of just how far along an edge should they go. If they were going to run in horseback stakes I would expect them to take the edge to its logical conclusion and then cross to the front. To give you a sense of just how big some of the fields are on their initial cast Brandy and Spot took the left edge of the field and went over 400 yards before taking a right and ending up in front of me. Near the end of their workout Spot took another edge almost 500 yards and probably had another 100 or so to go to get to the end of the edge but I was turning away from him and called on him to come across before the end which he did. Had I been on horseback I would have been able to see him most of the time he was on that edge. As it was I could see the edge and see on the Garmin screen where he was in his forward progress. The dogs need to learn to adjust to the cover and the activity. As they mature they’ll come to know the difference between a field trial race and a day hunting. Although, I have always let my best field trial dogs run a field trial-style race when we hunt as some of our grouse trials are during the fall hunting season. The derbies and puppies that I hunted last fall were kept pretty handy as they earned their freedom by handling birds. The derbies obviously had more freedom but even so are usually within 200 yards (bell range) in the woods and often much closer as they hunt the good cover we’re passing through. At a place like Miller/Welch the “best” cover should be the edges as that where the birds will be planted and where any native birds will be found as they come out of the woods to feed along the field edges and the nearest food strips to the edge/
Now if we were talking all-age and some of the venues they run on (although the Kentucky All-Age is run here) 4 or 500 yard casts can be kind of short. I remember watching a dog many years ago at Mortlach, Saskatchewan take a fence line and stay on it for an entire section — a mile. When they take those same dogs to the South they have to adjust to the different covers from the piney woods to huge bean fields. Spot’s sire Chase Hill’s Little Bud has won so many championships because he has learned how to handle the different situations from All-Age to walking cover dog stakes. His range is often on the edge of what’s needed for a particular venue but that’s often what wins the big trials.
It will be interesting to watch the dogs I have with me as they compete against dogs born and raised on running a field edge.
Here’s 7 seconds of the flush. All the whooping is because Brandy is very close to being broke on the flush of a single bird or a few grouse — but a couple dozen quail getting up in bunches is a really strong temptation.